Process plants face a very different business environment from 30 years (or even 10 years) ago. There are higher business demands for maximal availability, safety and environmental performance grades. Old installations are aging, new ones are more complex. Shrinking maintenance teams means a good share of staff may be working on their first shutdown…but nearly all process plants want to extend intervals between planned stoppages. This puts a heavy burden on shutdown teams to select the right valve to pull for maintenance, within the constraints of a set budget and timeframe. They then also need to ensure valves are pulled, serviced or replaced and installed back in the pre-agreed sequence, while meeting all quality, documentation and safety expectations.
Good planning and project management are essential
Good planning requires good project management and an early start. With the data-driven approach, the first step is to understand which valves are on site and how they affect process criticality. Valve historical data and asset monitoring data help us to finetune the shutdown scope.
Thorough shutdown planning makes use of all the available information: maintenance logs, smart positioner diagnostic alerts, process performance diagnostics, historical service history, vendor lifecycle experience, and benchmark valve performance from comparable applications in other plants. This is especially important for valves in severe and process critical applications and valves in safety critical applications.
It’s important to also consider opportunities to address long-term operational, maintenance and inventory challenges. Recent technological improvement can help process plants improve performance and safety, or can simplify device and process condition monitoring between shutdowns. A shutdown could also be an opportunity to tackle asset obsolescence, reduce capital tied in inventory or curtail fugitive emissions.
Finally, shutdowns are fraught with scheduling pitfalls. The data-driven approach delivers a clear timeline for ordering spare parts and planning site work. Tasks are planned backward from the end date to identify the critical path and to minimize surprises. This is also supported by tools that facilitate good project management and clear communication with trusted partners.
Even as a busy shutdown reaches its end, it’s important to document all work and results, collect recommendations and learnings and accurately update inventory. Digital solutions help to discover and reinforce best practices to facilitate the work of the team planning the next shutdown.
The data-driven approach delivers smoother shutdowns, with less risk, fewer surprises, and more sustainable plant performance and reliability.
Join our shutdown seminar at Valve World on Nov 29
Want to hear more about this topic? Our blogger and expert David Anderson will be presenting about predictive maintenance and how to maximize reliability with modern, data-driven shutdown planning at Valve World Expo in Düsseldorf on November 29 at 3.30 pm. You can also watch our latest webinar recording about the topic here.
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