These are certainly interesting times we find ourselves in. A global pandemic has now seeped through the porous borders of North America.
In many places, employees are already working from home offices. Here in North America we are fortunate to have some of the most advanced infrastructure to support a remote workforce. However, most blue-collar jobs cannot be relocated to home offices. Wrenches do not turn from one’s home office. Production workers that are sent home are no longer producing. Once this virus really hits here, production facilities are going to be running on fewer staff at reduced outputs and in some cases even put into hibernation until the workforce is well enough to return to full strength. Should any of your critical assets fail during this time, the resulting downtime could be crippling to your company. Keeping them running efficiently is more important than ever.
I have seen estimates of anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars for each hour of downtime, depending on the business and assets involved. Most companies are not able to absorb sustained losses of this magnitude. One of the very best defenses to help a company survive this forced production cut or shutdown is to use this time for maintenance and upgrades.
In the world of maintenance, a ‘Plant Turnaround’ or ‘Plant Shutdown’ is specific to doing planned and scheduled work. A company will prepare and organize for this effort over many weeks, before the work starts. Large industrial operations involving complex or difficult processes, can even take years to plan and schedule. Occasionally a plant has a forced outage. Usually these are stoppages due to unplanned events which necessitate taking the plant offline and causing the operation or equipment to stop. Typically, equipment breakdowns or service disruptions such as power supply loss or raw material shortages are the cause. Today we are dealing with a cause unheard of for decades; pandemic illness.