De-stressing plant shutdowns

Plant shutdowns are among the most stressful projects for managers due to their high financial penalties for delays and overruns. Any site manager supervising these projects must minimise the risks and focus on the critical elements of the project, rather

London – Plant shutdowns are among the most stressful projects for managers due to their high financial penalties for delays and overruns. Any site manager supervising these projects must minimise the risks and focus on the critical elements of the project, rather than on less urgent matters.

Choosing appropriate rental services is therefore a key aspect to these projects, believes Stuart Wild, head of industrial accounts for rental company Hewden. Major shutdowns, he said, require specialist equipment, such as access platforms, mobile lighting, welding and hand tools, compressors, power generation and cranes. They can also mean bringing hundreds of contractors and sub-contractors on site, along with supporting administration, accommodation and catering facilities.

In the past, it was normal rental practice to ‘pick and mix’, selecting equipment from many different hire companies. However, said Wild, this approach “leaves the headache of co-ordinating the hire and off-hire of each piece of equipment, chasing up kit that fails to appear, coping with equipment failure and repair or replacement, and negotiating hire extensions when overruns occur.

There is also the task of making sure that each piece of equipment and each supplier meets required HSE standards.”

Many plant/project managers now prefer partnership agreements, whereby the full hire management system for a specific shutdown or turnaround project is contracted to one supplier, said Wild. This lead company, he noted, often supplies much of the hire equipment from its own range, but also has responsibility for sourcing and managing the supply of equipment required from third parties.

Wild recommends that the scope of service should include:

– A project overview, ensuring that the exact nature of the site, the process and the work to be carried out and the safety implications of certain types of equipment are understood by subcontractors.

– Forward planning and scheduling to identify the best equipment for each stage of the project and the estimated period that it will be required.

– Contingency planning for possible over-runs and delays where specialist or expensive equipment is on hire. Also, ensuring a back up item is locatable and available in ‘worst case” scenarios.

– Identifying whether a fully trained plant operator as well as the equipment is required and, if so, ensuring that all their documentation and accreditation is in order.

– Ensuring all HSE policies are followed.

– Agreeing pricing and invoicing programmes and ensuring the documentation trail complies with the customer’s requirements.

– Providing full site liaison and management to ensure there is a ‘single point of contact’ available 24/7 to deal with any equipment hire emergency.