What Are Industrial Plant Turnarounds?
A plant turnaround (or TAR, to use industry lingo) is basically scheduled downtime for industrial operations. Booked every three to five years or so, it presents an opportunity to shut down entire sections of a plant and perform maintenance or repair work, make planned renovations, assess processes and ensure everything is operating in the safest, most efficient manner possible. Of course, no two turnarounds are exactly alike. Schedules and activities will vary, based on a plant’s size, age and specific objectives.
Key Considerations for Plant Turnarounds
As with all aspects of industrial operations — maintenance, specialty welding and turnarounds included — you’ll want to take a number of factors into consideration before determining your shutdown’s timing and details. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Consider the Current Environment
While every industrial operation must undergo shutdowns and turnarounds on a healthy schedule, virtually every operation has also been dealt something of a blow in the recent past. Due to social distancing concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many plants opted to put an all-out halt on turnaround activities in 2020. As such, many of those same industrial plants will find themselves jockeying for shutdowns on similar schedules moving forward. The laws of supply and demand support the idea that turnaround support will likely be harder to come by through 2021 and the years immediately following, while some experts anticipate that prices associated with such activities will be on the rise. We recommend working to get your next plant turnaround on the books as quickly as possible, to ensure you have a spot when you need it.
Consider Your Operations’ Unique Practices and Needs
Plant turnarounds are much like any other necessary maintenance work. While experts lay out suggested timeframes — in this case, turnarounds are recommended approximately every three to five years — every industrial plant is different. For those with older infrastructure in place, or that put out heightened output on a regular basis, turnarounds might need to happen more frequently. For operations housed in brand-new industrial spaces with equally new equipment, however, chances are you can go a bit longer. Such calculations are not to be taken lightly. Consult your maintenance experts to determine how frequently you should get such work on the books. Of course, just as with home renovation work, turnarounds never go exactly according to plan. You’ll want to factor in a bit of wiggle room for things such as additional maintenance needs that arise.
Consider the Financial Element
There are no two ways about it — plant shutdowns are a costly undertaking. Depending on your unique situation, shutdowns can wind up costing $100,000 per hour or more, due to lost production, labor costs and the like. Of course, such efforts are well worth it in the long run. Once you know the general shutdown schedule your operations are working around, it’s time pinpoint areas where you can safely curtail costs. Thinking through your necessary work, then prioritizing it accordingly, is a great place to start. You might also consider renting heavy machinery related to the work, rather than making unnecessary hefty purchases.
Make Sure You Bring on the Right Team for the Job
Not every industrial construction company is created equal. When it comes to the crews you hire on to help with the heavy lifting associated with your shutdowns and turnarounds, you’ll want to make sure you’re working with folks you can trust to tackle the work correctly. Take time to interview prospective companies and talk through the important issues. Make sure they understand your needs, plans and budget — and that they’re willing to work with you.
We suggest doing business with a crew that has far-reaching experience, as doing so allows a single team to take on multiple aspects of your work. (At the same time, it leads to less confusion during your turnaround planning and processes — and can result in a less money out of pocket.) At FUSED Industries, for instance, our industrial construction pros are well-versed in everything from equipment installation, to plant maintenance, specialty welding and turnarounds.