By Andrew Attrill
Maintenance shutdowns, in many respects, prove the rigor of a business’ management systems. While offline maintenance activities are generally planned, scheduled and executed as per business-as-usual techniques, and task-level work scope and individual activities rarely change, the critical difference between daily operations and shutdowns is intensity. A huge volume of tasks is executed simultaneously, dramatically increasing risk in areas such as safety, quality and cost. With maintenance work groups able to swell from 20 people to more than 600, delivering in excess of 7,000 manhours over 24-hour periods, for days to several weeks, the value of optimizing work programs to balance maintenance needs with plant uptime is clear. Weak systems can hide in plain sight when work levels are moderate. When they are as intense as shutdowns, there is simply no hiding. In some respects, they are the ultimate test of system strength.