Stumbling blocks: Many factors can send a turnaround into a tailspin, but most are avoidable

There are a lot of things that can send a maintenance turnaround spiraling out of control and cause a plant to miss its mark, both in time and money. The availability of parts, labor, weather and poor productivity are all potential threats, but are they always impactful?

That depends on the level of planning, says Richard Reeves, maintenance manager at Eastman Chemical Co. in St. Gabriel. Reeves joined Eastman more than three years ago and coordinates with a maintenance supervisor, two full-time maintenance planners, a scheduler and year-round turnaround coordinator to manage his plant’s turnarounds.

“The biggest obstacle is poor planning,” Reeves says. “If you don’t plan early enough and don’t plan properly, everything else is affected. You won’t have the materials that you need, and you really can’t recover from that.”

While many companies struggle to hit their goals, Eastman has failed to run long or exceed budget in its last 44 turnarounds. Much of that can be credited to the repetitive, consistent nature of the work, but the local availability of parts—particularly heat exchangers—also plays a role. “Our business rhythm is such that we initiate a turnaround every year,” he adds. “As soon as we finish one, we’re already starting planning on the next one.” That, in turn, minimizes the unexpected and makes the process more predictable.

Read more about how South Louisiana companies are managing their turnarounds in the spring edition of 10/12 Industry Report. Read the full digital edition.