Emerson's Nikki BishopTurnarounds hold a natural paradox: How can downtime be among the most intense periods for a busy plant?

These time windows of scheduled downtime for improvements, debottlenecking, maintenance and other actions are crucial to prepare the plant for ongoing safe, reliable and efficient operations. But these turnarounds are considered an intense time of “controlled chaos” as well, because a long list of work must be done and any schedule delays means extending the expensive window of lost production. For plants running at capacity, lost production is time that can never be made up.

Managing the scope of turnarounds is critical to getting the work done and staying on schedule. Emerson’s Nikki Bishop (right) offered her expertise as an “Effective Plant Turnaround Scope Management” panelist at the Gulf Coast Shutdown and Turnarounds conference in New Orleans on June 8.

Bishop was joined by turnaround leaders from owner companies on a panel focused on full project controls alignment, proven best practices for aligning objectives and avoiding “scope creep,” and mitigating overruns risks.

Having a clear scope for the turnaround is important, but even more crucial is support driven by the top down, said Bishop, director of Emerson’s Global Turnaround Program. This approach bolsters ownership and ensures clear accountability for actions and agreed-upon timelines.

Following this focused plan requires a culture change driven from senior executives to ensure the cross-functional teams are aligned and accountable for their activities, Bishop said. Having a well-defined scope is important, but it’s the activities that are outside of scope that keep turnaround leaders up at night.

Leveraging diagnostics to identify maintenance activities to be performed is helpful—but they must be done well in advance and not right before the plant outage, Bishop said. Similar to an app that sends smartphone alerts when your car needs a service, these diagnostics need time to understand the assets and identify patterns.

nInterested in learning more? Check out Bishop’s posts on Emerson Process Experts.