Plant Shutdowns and Maintenance Services

Plan, communicate and execute for future success

Plant shutdowns are referred to as a complete termination of all plant activities. These necessary projects are executed to perform equipment maintenance, repairs, machine replacements or to adjust internal operations. Shutdowns are costly to implement and therefore require intensive planning. This ensures that the job gets done quickly and in the safest, most cost-effective way possible.

Babcock is the largest B-BBEE empowered equipment provider in South Africa. We have a proven track record of safety and reliability in plant services, offering our clients a large fleet of trusted equipment brands for hire, to better assist with their shutdown procedures. With a combined inventory of more than 40 000 items, our offerings range from mobile crane hire to rigging equipment and expertise, abnormal transport, welding and mechanical construction plant hire to meet the many needs of the contractor.

Why plant shutdowns are necessary
Particularly applied to coal mining, thermal power stations and oil & gas producers plant shutdowns are used to plan and coordinate equipment and process improvements. More often than not, these maintenance turnarounds are to ensure that everything is running within industry regulations, and also to prevent accidents or fix any issues that may lead to future, unplanned shutdowns which could fall outside a company's budget.

No matter how efficient a plant is run, a shutdown is required to be able to withstand the number of services it can provide. And, similar to any other industry that requires heavy machinery and equipment to operate, there will always be operational and warranty requirements as to when it should be inspected or serviced. If you plan accordingly, having a partner that can respond quickly to replacement and/or hiring needs can significantly mean success or failure to a turnaround schedule.

Understanding the costs involved in plant shutdowns
Shutting down a plant for a couple of weeks can nearly equate to the entire maintenance budget of one year. Although staggering, the costs of not undergoing a shutdown can be even higher. These shutdown costs can be viewed according to the cost to repair and replace equipment or the cost of ceasing operations for an extended period of time. Either can be consequential to your bottom line, but with professional assistance and engineering support, you are able to minimise costs and improve future plant operations.

The phases of plant shutdowns and maintenance checks
Planning: Ultimately, this is the most important phase of the entire process. It will determine the success in savings and time. During this phase, internal teams need to determine the pre-shutdown activities that are required, the general logistics and the human resources needed to execute the tasks. Last minute changes are one of the biggest risks to delivering a successful shutdown.

Coordination: Your strategic layout needs to include who is responsible for what and how the flow of logistics is going to work. This is the most critical and time-consuming phase in the sense that you will need to carefully prepare (or hire) equipment, which clearly indicates when it will be removed from and returned to service. This process also includes the cleaning procedures for the equipment and premises.

Procurement: This phase sources the construction equipment and materials needed for the shutdown, and also includes the negotiation of contracts with external service providers. This phase can take weeks or months, depending on the availability of the resource needed to execute the plant shutdown.

Execution: This is when the shutdown takes place. Old procedures and equipment will be replaced with new or tweaked and repaired for future use. This phase depends solely on the amount of work that needs to be completed. For the best possible outcome, companies need to communicate the changes and procedures to employees beforehand so that they are always aware of what is happening.

Back to service: When the shutdown is complete, companies need to do performance testing on systems and procedures, before the plant can be started up again. This is done to prove that systems, operations and overall functionality are up to scratch. Once results are received, the facility is ready for use.

Plan, communicate and execute for future success
Shutdowns are incredibly expensive, and, of course, a major disruption to everyday operations. To complete a successful plant shutdown and maintenance service, all planning tasks need to be completed beforehand, with safety playing the most important role in the entire process. When companies focus on detail, turnarounds become more beneficial regardless of the temporary expense and delay.

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