Lean Plant Shutdown Strategies

Whether you call it a plant shutdown, outage, or turnaround getting the right work done, safely, and in the shortest time can be tricky.  Here are a few Lean Plant Shutdown Strategies we’ve taken that have helped make dramatic improvements in reducing planned and unplanned downtime:

Externalize – do nothing during the shutdown that can possibly be done while the process is running

  • SMED 101 – separate internal from external
  • Staging supplies – no ‘treasure hunts’
  • Prepare tool fixtures
  • Prepare work areas
  • Dry run, dress rehearsal, walk through, simulations
  • Checklists


Constraint Busting – find the constraint(s) and exploit/subordinate/elevate

  • Work scope scrubs – select work base on probability of failure and risk impact
  • Schedule scrubs – eliminate, combine, rearrange, simplify


Shutdown & Start Up – making the plant ready for maintenance work

  • Checklists
  • Dry run & simulations
  • Labor plans
  • Safety permits – lockout tag out efficiently
  • Parallel teams, chase the rabbit


Parallel Planning – bust organizational silos with concurrent cross functional teams

  • Work scope and schedule iterations and scrubs
  • Risk-based work selection
  • Contractor work reviews
  • Dry run dress rehearsals


Non Stop Critical Path – understand the trade offs when applying additional labor

  • Separate man and machine – machine based operations never stop (welding, blasting), man based operations suffer fatigue (demolition, fabricating)
  • Overlapping shifts
  • Relief crews
  • Runners, spotters, observers


Milestone Reporting – what gets measured get better

  • Categorize activities
  • Sequence prerequisites
  • plan vs actual
  • deviation, root cause, and countermeasures


Scope Change Management – unplanned work is a failure of planning or reliability engineering

  • Scope freeze, scope change cutoff
  • Single point of authority to add/drop/change scope
  • Risk-based decision making on ‘found’ or ‘discovered’ work
  • Cost and duration offsets
  • Post shutdown root cause analysis and corrective action


Command Center – transparency

  • The Plan is available for all, and easy to understand
  • Status of all work is easy and quick – exceptions, deviations stand out
  • Missing or stale information is obvious, as is who is responsible
  • Information ownership, source, and ‘freshness’ is easy to see
  • Deviations have countermeasures clearly displayed
  • Information updated before/after not during meetings
  • When the critical path change inevitably happens, new plan is in place in minutes not hours


Management Controls – inspect what you expect if you want to sustain

  • Preparation reviews
  • Gemba walks and paired observations
  • Site inspections
  • Checklist reviews
  • Performance metrics and countermeasures


After Action Review – no shutdown is flawless; learn and improve

  • What was the plan and what actually happened?
  • What went well?  What went wrong?
  • Separate common from special cause
  • Find solutions for common cause, buffer risks for special cause

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