Planning a turnaround that fits

A risk based work selection process screens worklist items to ensure they are justified for risk reduction or financial benefit as part of a turnaround.

Eileen Chant and Abby King

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Article Summary

In today’s process industries, sustained long-term reliability of facilities is a key to profitability and competitiveness. The cost of unreliability, which includes health, safety and environmental (HSE) incidents, is difficult for even healthy companies to endure and with investment in the right proactive measures can be avoided. Risk based work selection (RBWS) is a work process that prioritises and optimises turnaround and maintenance work without sacrificing reliability. RBWS uses risk to screen individual worklist items to ensure they are justified by either HSE risk reduction or financial benefit to cost analysis. Significant reductions in turnaround work scope typically result from this structured work process. At the same time, the nature of the process is such that there are numerous additional benefits such as ‘sleeper’ risks not previously considered, minimising discovery work, and helping with alignment of the cross-functional teams.

Inconsistent methods for screening turnaround and maintenance work can lead to missed opportunities for risk reduction and a poor return on investment (ROI). Becht’s RBWS method is a systematic and consistent approach to screen turnaround work lists using historical and industry performance data. The company’s turnaround and reliability specialists have reviewed turnaround work scopes for over 20 years. The average work list optimisation is $3 million in reduced turnaround spending per review with a reduction of 24% of low ROI work list items.

The RBWS process is data driven, ensures consistency of decision making and results in a risk-optimised worklist. The process includes consideration of risk management, reliability and conservation of financial resources. The results are fully documented for leadership review and future turnaround planning. Figure 1 shows the RBWS work process.

Questions that drive the RBWS justification process include (but are not limited to):
- Can the work be done cost effectively on-stream rather than during the turnaround?
- Does the risk of deferral meet the HSE threshold?
- Is there a clear justification for the work?
- Is the scope and cost well-defined?
- Does the cost of doing the work meet the client’s benefit-to-cost ratio threshold (this consideration only applies when HSE risk is below threshold)?
- Will the work eliminate a bad actor?

It is a process which is not limited to fixed equipment but covers all equipment classes.

The software tool
Use of the right software tool saves time and improves the results of the RBWS review. The process uses the web based software tool, BechtRBWS, to achieve consistent and efficient facilitation of cross-functional meetings, store the worklist data, and document decision making and results. Documentation of the rationale allows the leadership team to understand the ‘whys’ of the outcome, develops consistency between disciplines and sites, and provides a roadmap for future turnaround planning.

The information necessary to conduct an RBWS should already exist. The challenge is digging the information out of desk drawers, databases, and Excel spreadsheets, and organising it for review. Assessments are for a specific timeframe; one turnaround cycle, usually 4-7 years. The software will have this timeframe built into it.

What characteristics should the software tool have?

An RBWS session is only as good as the documentation. Being transparent about the team’s thought process and recommendations enables leadership to make informed decisions on what is ‘in’ or ‘out of a turnaround and why. Proper documentation helps eliminate recycle before and during the turnaround and can also be used as the starting point for future turnarounds. A dedicated tool preserves the data and results of the session.

Data gathering
A dedicated software tool should lessen the burden of data gathering for RBWS. Well-defined data fields, along with examples, help guide teams during the data acquisition phase. We recommend that teams new to the process should have training on the process and the data that they are required to gather. Setting clear expectorations for the data to include in workscope submittals will help minimise rework and help communicate the expectation that work items will be scrutinised and require justification.

RBWS requires input from the entire turnaround team with several members participating in a session at any given time. Therefore being efficient is critical to a successful session. The tool should ease the data entry, facilitation, and risk calculations done during a session, minimising the downtime. Toggling between screens and scrolling back and forth takes time and can be distracting and confusing. An ideal tool will have a single screen that is the focus during the session. That screen will present the data that was pre-loaded along with fields that capture the discussion during the session and show the risk assessment results.

Sharing information across a site or from site to site can add a lot of value for improved workflow, lessons learned, benchmarking, and to leverage work products from a past turnaround for a future turnaround. A tool should enable this by being accessible. Web based tools that can be logged into from anywhere have a distinct advantage over tools that are loaded onto a single computer.

A software tool should have reporting capability built in so it can roll up results that show the items reviewed, deferred, or recommended to be in or out of the turnaround. Most software has standard report templates but having the capability for customised reports is a beneficial feature. An example of a report that our clients like to see is the Benefit to cost graph, which plots each discretionary item in terms of cost versus financial risk mitigated (benefit).

The cross-functional team consists of an expert facilitator leading a group of refinery operations, maintenance, technical supervisors, and subject matter experts. As a team of plant personnel participates in the review, developing an efficient process is critical, to minimise meeting time. Preparation steps are recommended so that the team can hit the ground running when starting the review.

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