Skip to main content

A Roadmap to Effective Shutdown Readiness

There is no substitute for detailed planning...

There is simply no substitute for planning the details of the project. The smallest item can cause the same delays as the largest item. The most control we have over a project or shutdown is during the planning phase. Once the shutdown ‘starts’ we are at the whim of the people executing the work. After the planning has been done then there is an opportunity to optimise the plan and utilize Single Minute Maintenance to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the critical path jobs.

The other essential element is protecting the plan. This is a simple process as follows:

Review each task and ask what can go wrong (not unlikely things but the things that we always see that cause delays). Identify these and then either change the plan so that these cannot go wrong or develop a contingency. A good example of this is offsite component repair. If these items do not come back on time what is our contingency? Having a spare ready is an easy contingency.

There Are 4 Steps To Project Success:

  • People
  • Planning
  • Parts & Materials
  • Site Preparation

Shutdowns are one of the biggest sources of pain and stress for companies in heavy industry.  Schedule or budget overruns, safety incidents, or reliability problems on start-up are frequent problems, and commercial remedies may take months to follow up once the shutdown is finished.

Download our Shutdown Readiness Checklist to help you along the way and read on to hear some great tips from our team.

Many of the Specialist Asset team members were experienced shutdown managers or project engineers before coming to work for us, and shutdowns are still a major focus for us today. 

We asked a number of our Specialist Asset team the following question:

In your experience, what is the most common thing that sites overlook when planning and preparing for a shutdown, and what impact does it have on the outcome?

Adam Hawkins

In a nutshell (Parts)

  • parts not made available for shut commencement date;
  • parts are not staged with shut pad;
  • incorrect parts arriving (e.g. BUCKET BUSHES always seems to crop up!!!!!);

the above issues can be a result of poorly prepared FLOC's, BOM'S, Tasklists etc...poor planning and execution also go hand-in-hand.

Whilst the question is broad, the issues will vary from machine type to machine type and of course...plant to plant.

Other softer issues I have observed are;

  • Correct Site Inductions completed for commencement of shutdown where Contracted labour is used;
  • Incorrect staging (or no availability) of support equipment, i.e. EWP's, Cranes AND LIFTING SLINGS!!!!!

I was fortunate enough to be involved with a 996 shut with Bluefield in 2017 (by memory). In all the years of my shut experience, this by far and away was the surest, most succinct, accurate and smoothly run shut I have ever experienced. We even finished the shut 4 days early with Nil breakdowns after the 996 was commissioned and sent back to work. FYI, it was a superstructure changeout....for those in the know, you'll appreciate the enormity of this task.

Scott Studdert

My last shut was my worst. Errors here started with a change of schedule from the OEM changing their schedule without communicating at day 6 when they started their scope. A lack of accurate communication slowed the management of the shut and how we progressed the plan. 

Regarding excavators I always focus on parts, the right parts organised in a simple nature is key. 

Planning is critical, you need an experienced planner who knows how it comes apart and goes back together and allows them time to develop and communicate that plan. Plan the details then protect the plan.

Jeff Horn

Predominantly the shutdown is performed outside of normal production areas however access to the shutdown pad sometimes can only be accessed through the production haul roads or work areas. To reduce inefficient work time due to various reasons i.e. Traveling to and from the worksite, Blast delays, Appointment of drivers within the site (Escorts), Shift Handovers etc. A work area should be designed with private access that minimises delays.

Weather conditions. Sometimes hard to predict the weather patterns, but advanced studies can assist with start and completion times or assist during the Risk Assessment process to identify contingencies if faced.

Site access systems. Commonly random D&A Testing can delay the progression of shutdown tasks if the client is not efficient in the testing process.

Mark O’Neill

In addition to those above, and aimed more at the fixed plant:

not checking that all the parts have arrived in advance of the shutdown and are correct.

not completing adequate contingency planning: what can go wrong? What can I do to stop it from going wrong? What can I do if it still goes wrong? And have I got everything in place to react if it does?

Mark has previously written about spare parts preservation, read it here.

Stefan Van Der Linde

I was involved at a site where shutdowns were planned and executed by a central maintenance department. I had interesting learning. We had 2 shutdowns on draglines and 1 shutdown on the shovel, all conducted by the central department but by different PM's and they couldn't have been more different. 

The single major difference between the success of the latter and the failures of the first two was communication and accountability. The first two shutdowns had VERY little communication between the stakeholders leading up to very close to the execution start date. This proved almost catastrophic as site and central were not aligned on accountabilities and what needed to occur. 

Items that were almost missed were things like Pad setup when the machine would walk off the production bench to the pad, how was it going to get there, what is the access path to the machine from the site entry (or back access gates) etc. During the 2nd shutdown, there was countless meetings and comms pieces which meant the ship was steered correctly from the very early days and issues raised could be corrected well ahead of time.