A new way to reduce time and cost of Turnarounds during the ‘planning’ and ‘execution’ phases

A turnaround (TAR) is a planned shutdown of a unit or plant for scheduled maintenance activities, including revamp or renewal of equipment. Many activities must be executed during a strict, pre-defined timeframe. Major challenges during a turnaround lie in completing large numbers of activities and restoring the ‘reliability and integrity’ of the facility based on the goals and plans set out in the Corporate Business Plan.

Turnarounds are complex. They require extensive (seamless) planning, resource mobilization and optimization to ensure successful completion, most which is executed in an environment of scarce resources. Typically, the execution phase of TAR’s ranges from 15 to 60 days, with the planning phase lasting between 12 and 24 months.

Turnarounds are costly. The unit or plant is not only offline, which means lost production for every hour that it’s shut down, but a large (expensive) eco-system exists within the TAR market: service companies, equipment rentals, experts, software tools, budgeting tools, management and control tools, large internal departments of owner/operator companies, conferences, etc. What we have found is that there are many areas within this eco-system that can be optimized.

Two areas where TAR managers can save time and money are both related to “field visits”; during the planning phase, and during the shutdown and startup procedure execution phases.

We regularly talk to TAR managers, and planning & scheduling teams at plants. Many of them describe how they make regular trips into the plant to check structural and layout needs, as well as other critical items. These ‘field visits’ are necessary but are they required in every instance if an alternative exists? The travel time can be viewed as a wasteful, unproductive use of time. Walking into the plant, getting to the unit, finding what you are looking for, gathering the data, and walking back to your office can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2–3 hours (if you are not located in the plant). Within a large TAR, these minutes can add up to days very quickly.

There are many reasons for visiting the field during a TAR, including:

- Identifying the tools needed to dismantle or measure equipment

- Preparing work packages

- Locating components of a process unit, layout and structural issues

- Reviewing a process unit’s shutdown (and startup) procedures

- Showing contractors where things are located

- Knowing what safety equipment you need in specific areas of the plant

All these tasks must be performed when the asset is viewable. You must be able to move around and observe the process unit or equipment. Is there an alternative to making a ‘field visit’?

Industry Software Vendors [1] say that a realistic 3D model can replace ‘being in the field’. We have met a few corporate managers (not based in a plant), who say that they use laser scanning technology for TARs. They mention that this provides point cloud precision and photorealism for planning, and that they can add packages and hotspots to the 3D model themselves.

But when we talk to people in the field (plant-based TAR managers, maintenance managers and operators), we have found that the reality is less beautiful and straightforward. There are no 3D models with sufficient realism available, that you can access on any device with ease or even share with third parties.

Of course, you need an “as built” 3D model of your asset for the engineering phase of any TAR. This will save time, money and reduce potential (high-consequence) engineering mistakes. A 3D model requires you to scan the asset with a laser or structured light scan [2] and reverse engineer the subsequent CAD model (using the cloud point data) with many of the 3D software packages [3] available in the market. You can even complement your 3D laser scanning equipment with additional hardware to capture shadowed areas or areas that are difficult to reach [4]. Once you have reverse engineered the CAD model and created a ready-to-edit CAD model, the result is a heavy 3D model suited for engineering:

Because this process is quite onerous from an economic and resource viewpoint, and the result is so engineered-oriented, the reality is that these 3D models are not used for anything else aside from addressing engineering needs such as spatial distribution and high precision measurements (and other engineering tasks).

Going back to the initial issue of “field visits”: this often represents a huge waste of time because so many TAR team members need to see the actual asset for themselves (see the real thing) and then share this with 3rd parties.

We, at Voovio, think that we have solved the “field visits” issue with our 3D Digital Replicas. Our solution delivers a photorealistic replica of any section of the plant or unit in a matter of days. TAR teams can access the replica via a web browser from any device, and view and check issues as if they were in the field. Any time a question comes up about specific equipment, installation or for troubleshooting, Voovio’s digital replicas could save countless field visits. Users can search for any component, e.g. a specific valve, via a searchable index library and view the real thing.

The second area where plants can save time during their TAR’s is in the shutdown and startup phases. Voovio’s procedure simulation engine, allows operations crews to review and practice shutdown and startup procedures before they execute them. This is exactly like walking them through in the field. Crews have a realistic and interactive step-by-step visual representation of their procedures that they can access on any device. This is invaluable because in every TAR, it will be the first time that many of the crew members will execute the shutdown or startup procedures. Teams can view and discuss Lock Out/Tag Out (LOTO) procedures on a large screen in a meeting room instead of trying to communicate in the noisy plant environment.

Furthermore, Voovio’s ‘field assistant’ provides crews with a visual confirmation tool that they can take with them in the field during the execution phase: it displays their tasks and where they need to execute them. Customers not only report a huge boost in confidence, but also say that their operators perform shutdowns and startups faster, with fewer errors and in some cases without needing to consult a subject matter expert. TAR managers worry less about losing time and budget at both the front- and back-end execution phases of their turnarounds.

[1] Aveva, Intergraph, Bentley, etc

[2] FARO, Leica, etc

[3] Autodesk ReCap, Leica Cyclone, Faro Scene, Trimble RealWorks, Aveva LFM, Z+F LaserControl, Rhino, to name a few

[4] https://www.dotproduct3d.com/industrial.html

Enhanced Reality is the new technology for field operators. Boost productivity in executing procedures & eliminate risks/errors in operations + maintenance!

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