How many times have you heard maintenance execution blame the planners? As a maintenance supervisor, this is something I know I have been guilty of in the past.

As I am sure you are aware, the comments and complaints are endless; no parts, extra jobs placed in the shutdown plan, contractors who have little or no experience and cranes that are supposed to be in 2 places at once, the list goes on.

On a couple of relatively recent visits to sites, I came across similar situations.

Supervisors should be supervising.

Watching how a shutdown was being executed, I noticed the lack of supervisors around the plant. I was concerned, due to the large amount of contractors brought in, that:

  1. The safety of the people executing the shutdown would be compromised.
  2. The quality of the work carried out during the shutdown would be compromised.
  3. The efficiency of the work teams would be compromised (who was watching who and what work was actually being done?).
  4. Tool time had a stated start and finish time, yet the tools didn’t touch the equipment until long after they were planned to do so and a lot of jobs were just not carried out, due to delays during shutdown execution.

I was more perturbed to find that the supervisors during a shutdown were acting as planners, booking out parts, chasing out to job sites, then returning to the office and booking out more parts.

Upon investigation I was informed that a previous Planning Superintendent had instructed that, for every pump rebuild (planned, not reactive), the planning department should book out all components.

What wasn’t done, however, was reaching agreement with the warehouse that unused components could be taken back to the warehouse after the shutdown.

This meant that a huge satellite store of who-knows-what components existed at the mechanical workshop. Costs and spare parts usage increased immensely.

The next Maintenance Superintendent stopped components from being withdrawn from the warehouse unless they were certain to be used. This forced the supervisors into being parts requisitioners for all work where parts requirements could not be defined with certainty prior to opening up equipment.

Keeping your team on the same page.

A second concern was when a member of the maintenance execution team openly admitted that the shutdown plan was merely a guideline and didn’t need to be followed. Furthermore, they believed that high infant mortality of equipment after a shutdown was acceptable.

As I was working alongside the planners as well as the execution teams, I heard the complaints about the planners, but I also understood from the planners that they were only doing as directed.

The relationship between the planners and the execution team was so bad, that the supervisors didn’t usually bother turning up for the weekly planning meeting, meaning that planning meetings were only attended by planners, a superintendent and technical advisors.

At another site, I encountered the same attitude towards re-build activities. I was informed by senior maintenance management that it was normal for no parts to be booked out if a pump was undergoing a planned rebuild and that supervisors should withdraw any parts needed by the crew.

What happens on your site?

Do you book out all components required for a shutdown and place them back in the warehouse if unused?

If not and you rely on the supervisors to book the parts out, how do you manage the shutdown safety, quality, efficiency and ensure it finishes on time?

Do you consider the shutdown plan as a guideline, or do you consider it mandatory to follow the plan, unless there are exceptional circumstances?

If any of the situations discussed in this post are relevant to you, it may be worth reviewing your shutdown planning and management processes. As you can imagine, an optimised shutdown process can bring a number of benefits, such as reduced unplanned cost, increased safety, and a reduced risk of poor environmental or work quality outcomes – not to mention an increase in production output and shareholder satisfaction.

We have the capability to bring these benefits to you – view our shutdown performance improvement page for more information.

Back to top