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Characteristics for Turnaround projects

6 replies [Last post]
floris gering
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Joined: 30 Jul 2014
Posts: 23

Hi everybody,

Maybe a good question to start with in this forum:

What are the characteristics specific for Turnaroundprojects ? (what is fundamentally different compared to a "normal" construction project for example)

Which things do you encounter which you will only see in those kind of projects ?





Stephen Devaux
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Joined: 23 Mar 2005
Posts: 650

Hi, Floris.

Some differences:

  1. The value/cost of time on shutdown/turnaround projects is generally both (a) a lot of money and (b) well known to pretty much every key team member. (This, alas, is all very different from most projects, where the value/cost of time is usually left as a negative externality even when it's very large.) This tends to lead to:
  2. More effort is expended on planning/optimizing shutdown/turnaround schedules than on other types of projects, and
  3. The best schedulers in any industry tend to be found on these types of projects.
  4. Knowledge of the value/cost of time allows easy computation of drag costs, once the drags of the critical path activities are computed. (Spider Project is, as far as I know, still the only package that computes critical path drag, and it does so on both the CPM and resource-leveled schedules.)
  5. With drag costs computed, it becomes much easier to (a) justify the resources needed to reduce the true cost of an activity (TC = resource costs plus drag cost); (b) to prioritize activities for additional resources; (c) to quickly estimate the true cost of emergent work and, if it is optional, determine whether its value is greater than its true cost; and (d) optimize the schedule so that the turnaround takes less time and results in less lost revenue.

Fraternally in project management,

Steve the Bajan 

When there is a need to keep the order of activity execution we use Spider Project leveling option Previous Version Support.

With different software I suggest to apply activity priorities that follow the order of activity execution in the agreed schedule. In this case the changes will not be too large and so will not create contractors resistance. 

floris gering
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Joined: 30 Jul 2014
Posts: 23


That automatic resource leveling offers several advantages I can see, but what I do not understand is this:

I assume you communicate the work to be done with your contractors through a 3 Days Lookahead or something similar ? They get some sort of overview with jobs they can do in the next timeslot.

When you do your automatic resource levelling 3 or 4 times per day, assuming the amount of constraints is minimal, you can never guarantee the joborder as it current was. After a new round of progress collection and updating the schedule, together with an automatic resource leveling, probably your lookahead for each and every contractor looks different than before the leveling. Correct ?

How do you cope with this situation ? It seems to me this is not practible for the contractors ?

We use very detailed planning, conditional networks, automatic resource leveling and risk simulation in our shutdown projects.

There is no alternative to automatic resource leveling - it produces better schedules, it is fast, it permits to apply risk simulation. At some TA projects they are rescheduled for each shift (3 or 4 times per day).

When change of the order of activity execution is not acceptable we use Previous version support option in Spider Project resource leveling settings.

floris gering
User offline. Last seen 1 year 51 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 30 Jul 2014
Posts: 23

Hi George,

Thanks for your quick and detailed reply.

As I understand it, because of the uncertainty, the consequence is that the scope of  work could have major changes after opening up the equipment because of unforeseen work that has to be done. Correct ?

2 further questions then arise:

  • Will all extra or repair work always be incorporated into the schedule ? I can imagine that a lot of very small items just get done, without incorporating them into the schedule. So for instance, only extra work with a major impact on the schedule will be included, or is this the wrong way to go ?
  • How do you cope with automatic resource levelling and its effects during the Turnaround I wonder ? As I understand it, resources are always limitied to a certain amount, so the best resource usage profile is important. However when you let the software level your resources, it could shift your activities to a complete different order (following the logic between the jobs ofcourse). How do you communicate this to the contractors whoch have to do the work ? Suppose you do this through 3 days lookaheads. They would completely change afer an automatic resource leveling during the Turnaround. Correct ? What is then the alternative ? Do not use the automatic resource leveling anymore once the TA has started ?


George Hislop
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Hi Floris,

Shutdown critical paths are generally much shorter and more at risk. This can be due to uncertainty in the condition of existing equipment.  You can remove some of the uncertainty by non-intrusive inspection (while the equipment is still on line) but until you have actually carried out the internal inspection you do not know the duration of any repair that may be required. 

Shutdowns are generally planned on a multi shift basis to minimise the critical path duration so the option to accelerate in the event of emerging scope may be limited if conditions restrict the number of resources that can be applied to the critical area.

You will plan at a more detailed level in shutdowns due to the requirement to optimise ressources and minimise risk to duration. The plan should be to open up the highest risk areas as early as possible to establish exact repair scope,once the risk becomes a reality it allows you to amend the plan accordingly. 

Another major difference from green field projects is that you have to build a run down and isolation of the plant as well as a start up.  This can also be an area where delays creep into the shutdown plan If plant conditions are not as expected (Not gas free or ready for entry at the planned time).

In summary, shutdown planning is heavily front loaded in terms of planning effort,  it will contain many assumptions (which should be clearly stated when the plan is published) and will require daily adjustment during the event to provide managers with accurate updates on emerging critical paths.