As we get closer to winter, plants are beginning their scheduled turnarounds, shutdowns and outages as they prepare for their peak seasons. Summer and winter require power plants to be at their best due to customer demand and usage requirements. To meet that demand, plants must align their machinery, isolate issues, and maintain or upgrade equipment as needed.
This is without a doubt a complex process that adds stress to any power plant’s team. Having a process to follow and being prepared for an outage will not only simplify the task, but provide productivity boosts as well. Let’s dive into the hows and whys of an outage and look at how a partner like SITEX can help make these processes run more smoothly.
Before we go into the preparations and solutions companies can take for more successful outages, it’s important to understand the benefits that come with a properly executed outage. As energy consumption increases, it’s critical to have well maintained equipment in order to deliver the power that consumers demand. Scheduling an outage is the best way to prevent equipment damage and while an outage may cost time and money, it saves millions when compared to the cost of replacing damaged machinery.
Safety is also a key consideration when it comes to an outage. Properly executed outages or shut downs aren’t just for equipment. An outage enables operators to properly inspect the machinery in detail. This thorough inspection can uncover issues with equipment that could lead to worker injuries if not addressed or identified. And finding these kinds of issues enables plants to maintain and repair their equipment on a scheduled basis, preventing unscheduled outages which can lead to lost time and money during peak usage times.
We’ve covered tips and best practices for improving outage schedules and the benefits of consulting services in the past. Let’s focus on specific best practices for improving outages themselves, making for a streamlined process that any plant can replicate.
First is the importance of a pre-outage briefing. These meetings do two key things that every outage requires. First, they help the entire team, including contractors and partners, understand the goal of the outage and what exactly needs to happen at every step. Secondly, a pre-outage meeting identifies key performance indicators (KPIs) so that the team can coordinate their efforts and mitigate confusion during the outage procedure.
The next important step is all about information. Exchanging information with contractors, team members, and plant operators is crucial to a successful scheduled outage. Integrating the schedule across all involved parties will help facilitate the communication and coordination of every task that needs to be completed. For example, if a pump rebuild is required, the timing it will take everyone from the technicians to the electricians to the carpenters to do their work needs to be accounted for and communicated. This helps to facilitate the work in a smooth way and having a team at your side that has done this kind of work before is a must.
Speaking of information, it’s important to keep a regular cadence of communication during the entire process. Daily and weekly status meetings don’t just keep everyone up-to-date, they also prepare everyone for the next steps in the outage process. Plus, the reports that are created for these meetings can be analyzed and the data can show how the outage is running compared to the expectations set at the start of the outage. This info can then be reviewed at the completion of the task, seeing what worked and what didn’t to better prepare for the next scheduled or unscheduled outage.
When it comes to a scheduled outage, preparedness is the name of the game. Creating a well-defined scope at the start is great, but keeping good communication and reporting throughout the process will keep that scope from just being a wish list.
SITEX has deep experience in safely planning and executing scheduled and unscheduled outages. We offer a wide variety of certified personnel and advanced solutions to help plants realize their goals and smoothly execute their outages. Our dedicated personnel work alongside customers to fully understand their challenges and goals, helping to facilitate communication along the way. Contact us today to discuss your specific unscheduled outage challenges today and see how SITEX can help you turn an outage headache into a streamlined process that boosts productivity and safety.