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Plant Management

How to use your planned outage to increase plant productivity

May 5, 2021
Planned shutdowns represent a significant expense for any plant: while specialized labor is hired and equipment repaired or replaced, there is no output being produced to generate revenue.
However, how this essential maintenance operation is planned and executed has a direct impact on plant productivity once the process resumes. Equipment performance, process accuracy and employee safety, not to mention avoiding unplanned outages, all depend on the work being done during the planned outage.

In this article, we examine 3 ways to turn this expense into a profitable investment.

Streamline communication and resources

Electricians, mechanics, instrument specialists, engineers: it is not uncommon for a shutdown to involve several different companies for these trades, in addition to the parts suppliers. This involves communicating with multiple occupational safety stakeholders with the inherent risk of information silos.
A useful strategy to mitigate this risk is to choose a partner who combines several trades in a single team, allowing you to have a single point of contact for all safety-related issues. Better still: this multidisciplinary team can be led by a common supervisor, which frees up your time in addition to ensuring a more cohesive execution of their mandate.

Plan upfront to save later

When budgets are tight, it can be tempting to forgo a complete plant walkdown at the planning stage. However, this audit brings you two key benefits:
  • It allows your shutdown partner to better estimate the work to be done and avoid unpleasant surprises
  • It enables you to optimize replacements and repairs according to asset criticality.
Adding a plant walkdown to your shutdown planning will allow you to control expenses on equipment and parts to purchase as well as the hours of work to be done.

Seize the opportunity to improve machine health monitoring

When all machines are stopped, it is the ideal time to examine how their condition is monitored to prevent unplanned shutdowns throughout the year. If a rotating asset needs frequent repairs between planned outages or if it wears down faster than expected, consider adding an evaluation of this asset by a reliability expert. It may be possible (and very much worth it) to install monitoring equipment on the asset that will allow you to time its maintenance ahead of time and avoid potential failures. The hours of production saved by this relatively simple solution will likely pay for the upgrade before the next planned outage comes around.


Although planned shutdowns represent significant costs not only in resources but also in management time and halted productivity, it is possible to recoup the investment with a strategy centered on improvement and efficiency. The planning phase and choice of partners will be decisive to achieve lasting results.

Planning a shutdown?

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