The Importance of Shutdowns in Plant Operations
Plant shutdowns, also known as turnarounds, are one of the most critical times in the operation of a plant. Shutdowns have a profound ability to affect the plant’s financial future in either a positive or negative way. A shutdown that is poorly planned, exceeds its deadline, or goes past its budget can negatively impact the plant’s bottom line. A plant turnaround that is well planned and executed can positively affect the plant and have it running within capacity for years.
Why Plant Shutdowns Are Necessary
The point of a shutdown is to create a plan for a complete cessation of all plant activities in order to perform necessary maintenance, repairs, equipment replacements, and to perform internal maintenance. This includes the equipment inside process columns, for any number of reasons including increasing throughput, replacing or maintaining internal mass transfer equipment, and carrying out process upgrades. Shutdowns are necessary because they are often required by federal and state governing agencies to prevent accidents and to ensure that the plants are running within required regulations.
All equipment has operational and warranty requirements on when it should be serviced and inspected. A shutdown is the ideal time to do just that. In addition, shutdowns allow for the internal inspection of equipment that is impossible while it is running. A shutdown also allows operators to fix or prevent issues before they arise and cause costly outages, unplanned shutdowns, or worker injuries.
No matter how well a plant is run or how high its efficiency is, a shutdown is required to maintain it. Whether the turnaround is scheduled for 14 days, 30 days, or 45 days, the critical path is for the towers to be up and running again on time. An important step is to have quality equipment available as scheduled because every extra day the plant is down, it can cost hundreds of thousands in lost production. As a manufacturer of high quality mass transfer equipment, AMACS delivers products on time to meet a plant’s turnaround schedule. Having a partner that can respond quickly to replacement equipment needs can mean success or failure to a turnaround schedule.
Plant Shutdown Costs
The costs for a plant shutdown are calculated in two areas: 1. The cost to repair and replace equipment 2. The cost of ceasing operations for an extended period of time. It is estimated that shutting down a plant for a few weeks can cost the plant’s entire maintenance budget for a year.
However, the costs for not undergoing a planned shutdown can be even far higher. This includes any or all of the following:
- Cost of repair or replacement of a faulty piece of equipment that fails unexpectedly
- Cost to repair or replace equipment damaged when another fails
- Cost to clean or replace the plant or equipment should toxic chemicals be spilled
- Undergoing a cessation of plant activities for an extended period of time
- Cost of fines or penalties should any operational or environmental regulations be violated
- Cost of an explosion or other hazardous accident in the plant
- Cost of any injury to workers as a result of equipment failure
- Cost in legal fees should any liability issues arise
The bottom line on shutdowns is that they are expensive and pose a major disruption in regular operations; but are vital to a plant’s survival. Their ability to allow the completion of maintenance tasks that could otherwise never be done is invaluable. A shutdown also helps to ensure the overall safety of the plant itself and those inside, a cost that cannot be measured in dollars.
Having a turnaround partner with the latest products, combined with engineering support and a dedicated turnaround team can help minimize costs and improve future plant operation.
AMACS has decades of experience providing equipment and services for column upgrades, repairs, and maintenance. We understand that quick response time and plant turnaround support is a major factor in minimizing downtime. Our turnaround team functions like our customers’ “pit crew,” identifying problems quickly, working with perfectly timed precision, and providing a winning combination of proven products and unparalleled service.
The AMACS turnaround team wants to partner with you to provide hardware and tower internals for your next shutdown or turnaround. Just call or e-mail us with your requirements and we’ll respond quickly!