Digitally Optimizing an STO Planning Process Benefits Business
Blake Powell | Sales & Marketing Lead | STOlogix
Originally published in the February 2020 issue of BIC Magazine.
Shutdowns, turnarounds and outages (STOs) are expensive, complex, high-risk events that must be scoped, planned, scheduled and executed with precision to stay competitive; it only takes one significant overrun to severely impact a business financially.
During a turnaround, finding faster, more secure and less expensive ways of getting people the information they need to make better decisions can make all the difference. Turnaround personnel must be able to view their project plans and resources to perform their jobs efficiently. Therefore, it’s crucial for digital services and resources to consistently work the way they’re supposed to.
Even the most basic plans can involve dozens of complex interactions among different departments, disciplines and people — from frontline engineers and schedulers to security management personnel. To complicate matters even more, these different areas are nearly always separated by technological and organizational barriers, and crossing those barriers takes time, costs money and limits efficiency.
The only solutions previously available to STO planners have been complex, expensive applications often used for many of the required functions of identifying the proper event-scope work list and planning work performed in corrective, preventative or predictive activities. Not typically integrated, each of these applications may often require expensive licenses, extensive training and complex analysis to ensure the readiness for the STO event schedule development and work execution. This presents a significant barrier for organizations seeking to improve scope and planning operations that are often shared among in-house and contract personnel.
For example, any credible turnaround service management solution can collect, prioritize and manage project information for a turnaround, but it can’t integrate and consolidate that information into a single, easy-to-use work list. Planners are left trying to cobble together information from many backend systems into Microsoft Excel to plan an event, compromising the integrity of the information and creating delays in the project. As a result, the barrier between planning and fulfillment creates unnecessary expenses and inefficiencies — no matter how well each area performs on its own. These natural boundaries make the possibility of a successful, on-time and on-budget turnaround more difficult.
It’s important to find a software solution that eliminates these pain points and has the ability to budget and plan work activities, as well as the materials and personnel needed in a single, intuitive platform. This kind of solution can offer streamlined efficiency and visibility among STO stakeholders, and organizations can also benefit from more efficient planning and estimating, along with quicker transfer of job plans into the schedule. When data is generated and organized properly, a team can make better decisions regarding the turnaround earlier in its timeline. The ability to have all this organized information easily shared across the entire turnaround organization can lead to shorter learning curves and better results for the turnaround event as a whole.