Maintenance Outsourcing

Many companies have lost their turnaround management expertise in recent years due to retirements, corporate downsizing, increased reliance on contractors, reduced training and development funding, and talent recruiting challenges.

Some companies never offered or were forced to eliminate a career path for personnel who possess turnaround management skills. Lack of viable career paths, stressful work, and frequent overtime, make attracting and retaining talent to the turnaround management function extremely difficult.

Here’s what leaders need to know about turnaround management to achieve the technical right to succeed in effective Asset Life Cycle Management.


Turnaround Management

A turnaround, also known as an outage or a shutdown, is a budget, planned, and scheduled event designed to maintain and/or enhance the reliability of manufacturing assets. The performance of these downtime events establishes the cornerstone for how a plant’s assets will perform between turnarounds when the uninterrupted supply of finished goods to customers is vital to your company’s profitability and reputation.

A turnaround includes maintenance and replacement tasks, instrumentation and equipment calibration, electrical and mechanical integrity inspection/testing, installation of new capital equipment, and other tasks that must be completed while manufacturing equipment is down, cleared, and locked out.

The primary purpose of turnarounds is to ensure that the assets perform safely, productively, reliably, and at the optimal manufacturing cost until the next scheduled turnaround. This leads to safe, environmentally compliant, high-quality, and profitable manufacturing operations.

Keep in mind that the duration of the turnaround shouldn’t be the primary focus.  When it is, decisions become short-term focused and lead to ongoing potential safety risks, unplanned downtime, long-term asset performance problems, and high manufacturing costs. The problems can last much longer if these short-term decisions cause significant equipment damage.  The primary focus of a turnaround should be to ensure that the assets will be able to operate safely, in compliance, and reliably until the next scheduled turnaround.


Determining the Turnaround Schedule

Hours during a turnaround are extremely expensive—from both a direct cost and the opportunity cost of lost or delayed production.  The following factors may cause turnaround hours to be expensive.


    • Equipment is being rented.
    • Your products may be being provided to the supply chain from higher-cost plants.
    • Highly paid contractors are on the clock.
    • Overtime costs may be high.
    • The high concentration of people in a small area poses safety risks and can reduce work efficiency, thus increasing the cost per unit of work completed.
    • Expediting costs due to “discovery work” or parts ordering mistakes are high.
    • Managerial personnel are being fatigued at a fast pace.


These costs make an impact, and they’re at their highest during a turnaround. While it’s tempting to schedule as many tasks as possible during a turnaround, it’s best to include only jobs that require the equipment to be down. All other work should be executed at a different time when costs are lower.


Schedule vs Cost

Management must decide whether the turnaround is schedule-driven or cost driven.

If the turnaround is schedule driven, the objective is to do whatever is possible to minimize the length of the turnaround’s critical path and get the plant back to full productivity as quickly as possible while maintaining safe, compliant performance.

If the turnaround is cost driven, all efforts are made to complete the full scope of work safely and at the lowest possible cost. Cost-driven turnarounds normally last longer because crews are staffed and scheduled to achieve minimum cost rather than to complete the turnaround as expeditiously as possible.

Both schedule-driven and cost-driven turnarounds should be well-planned and executed. Management needs to decide, communicate, and support the “Schedule Driven vs. Cost Driven” decision based on the current needs of the business.  Both strategies are valid and can lead to profitability.


Turnaround Execution

The number and types of resources required to execute a turnaround safely and effectively depend upon several factors. These include the number of work orders to be completed, the complexity and diversity of the planned work, the number of shifts per day, the turnaround’s duration, and the number of companies whose work must be coordinated.


Turnaround Team

Five key leadership roles are necessary for the proper execution of all turnaround work.


    1. Turnaround Manager
    2. Contractor Coordinator
    3. Planner
    4. Scheduler
    5. Safety Coordinator


Large, complex turnarounds may require multiple people to fill one role. Conversely, it may be practical for one person to fill more than one role for very small turnarounds. A role does not automatically justify a headcount. These decisions become apparent by considering best practices and historic turnaround performance while planning, scheduling, and estimating costs.

Ensuring effective turnaround management is necessary for reliability.  Turnaround management teams must have well-trained, experienced, professional, focused, and highly disciplined personnel. The need for focus cannot be overstated. Turnaround management is a full-time job.  If turnaround management must compete with daily “firefighting” around the plant, the urgency of firefighting will always win the battle for teammates’ focus.  The result of a lack of focus is a sub-optimal turnaround that could lead to many months of sub-optimal asset performance while awaiting the next turnaround. Remember . . . the primary performance measure of a turnaround is how well the assets perform until the next turnaround.


Team with Tormod

The Tormod team has deep and diverse experience from all organizational levels of manufacturing. We understand turnaround management processes and best practices, so we can provide our clients with the solution that works best for them. Our Team can supplement your existing team to fill critical gaps or fully manage some or all aspects of your turnaround management process. We can also provide training, coaching, and mentoring to help develop our clients’ turnaround management leaders.

As we are aware, the quantity and quality of turnaround management talent is declining quickly in every industry. It will require different decisions and modes of Teamwork to combat this trend.  Asset Reliability is the economic backbone of every manufacturing company. If you’re looking to improve plant reliability, manufacturing cost, and turnaround performance, contact us today.