Plant Maintenance Shutdown Tips

Many facilities conduct an annual plant maintenance shutdown in order to perform required maintenance activities that cannot otherwise be performed during the course of day-to-day activities. Conducting an annual shutdown should result in reduced unplanned downtime, reduced overtime for your maintenance staff, reduced energy consumption, and greater overall operational efficiencies.

Here are 5 tips on how to prepare for an effective plant maintenance shutdown:

Tip 1 – Have the Right Equipment
Make sure you have the proper equipment to be able to evaluate all of your machinery. Thermal imagers, infrared thermometersvibration testers, current monitors and voltage monitors are critically important to being able to detect damaged process materials and equipment that have reached the end of their useful life. Thermal imagers are a great tool to help you “see” the unseen and easily identify issues such as:

  • Phase unbalance, overloading, and harmonics in areas such as switchgear, transformers, electrical panels, and motor control centers
  • Loose, corroded, damaged, or other high-resistance electrical connections
  • Signs of bearing problems, shaft or coupling misalignment, belt or drive-train issues, and other abnormal heating in electromechanical systems such as motors, couplings, pumps, compressors, fans, blowers, pumps, conveyors, gearboxes, and chain drives
  • Ineffective insulation, refractory issues, obstructed flow, failed valves, leaks, and sludge buildup in process components such as steam lines, valves and traps, storage tanks, petrochemical equipment, and pharmaceutical equipment

Tip 2 – Prepare the Staff
Prior to the shutdown, gather maintenance and support staff to review the shutdown procedure. Make sure everybody understands their role and responsibilities, and that they have line of sight to the shutdown schedule. Make a list of all personnel with up-to-date contact information, and inform them if they may be on 24-hour call during the shutdown.

Tip 3 – Expect the Unexpected
No matter how detailed your plant shutdown project plan is, unplanned work is inevitable. It’s common to discover additional work that needs to be done once systems are disassembled or equipment is more accessible. Not accounting for some degree of unplanned work can have a huge negative impact on timeline and budget. A good rule of thumb is to build a 10 percent contingency into you plan, both from a budgetary and timing perspective, to ensure that these unforeseen events do not derail your project.

Tip 4 – Consider Installing Data Loggers
Data loggers are electrical instruments that record information over a period of time. This information can then be tracked and trended to identify decreases in performance and efficiency. Data loggers represent a great way of identifying failing equipment before a catastrophic failure occurs.

Tip 5 – Consider Installing Cost Saving Remote Monitoring and Analysis Technology
Advances in technology combined with dropping prices have made remote monitoring more affordable than ever. These simple and convenient products allow you to view and manipulate process data, trends, and graphs remotely with your PC, tablet, or smartphone at any time of the day.

If you need help finding tools for your annual plant maintenance shutdown, email us at sales@coleparmer.com or call one of our product specialists at 800-323-4340.

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