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By Jim Montague, Executive Editor
It's quite simple really. One missing valve certification document or buried email with a repair specification isn't a big problem. The problem is there's never just one. Incomplete, lost or misdirected records usually multiply by the dozens and hundreds and can make already complex projects more difficult and time-consuming. Paper documents are static and difficult to distribute widely, while email threads stretch out until critical points are lost in the electronic sauce.
To combat these organizational gremlins, maintenance engineers at BP's Texas City refinery, local business partner Puffer-Sweiven, and the Instrument & Valve Services division of Emerson Process Management recently used new file-sharing and procedural tools to complete a huge valve turnaround project in just under nine weeks. Stacy Baltzegar, BP's instrument and control reliability engineer, Tate Cunningham of Puffer-Sweiven and Ryan Baker of Instrument & Valve Services described their efforts at the recent 2011 Emerson Global Users Exchange in Nashville, Tenn.
The scope of repairs for the valve turnaround swelled because a scheduled turnaround on another of BP Texas City's 20 process operating units was pulled back at the same time, and due to new requirements by the plant's Safety Instrumented System (SIS) Lifecycle project.
"The SIS project encompassed every valve associated with our SIS on the turnaround units. They all had to be pulled and shopped to establish a health baseline for starting a condition-based valve maintenance program," says Baltzegar. "This boosted our scope from 212 to 457 valves—all scheduled for Class A repairs. Without enough manpower to oversee timely decision-making, our turnaround schedule was threatened. Despite this scope growth, the repair window was only slightly extended to just under nine weeks, which put the plant at risk for lost production if this schedule wasn't met."
To address safety and quality assurance/control issues, meet agreed-upon lead times and deadlines and support the new requirements of the SIS Lifecycle project, BP and its partners decided to use two tools to organize the valve turnaround project. The first was getting all team members to use a custom collaboration portal based on Microsoft SharePoint software; the second was employing Emerson Process Management's Six-Step Turnaround Process, which includes outage development, project kick-off, refining details, internal planning, outage execution and outage review. The customized SharePoint application gave BP, Puffer and Emerson's stakeholders a common, online location to communicate with each other 24/7. This allowed easy project assignments and updates; prevented the loss of useful inventory items and requirements; helped maintain efficient workflow by disseminating revised tasks; and enabled thorough documentation.
"Everyone had immediate access to review the conversations about specific issues as they arose," says Baker. "By the end of the turnaround, all team members were using SharePoint on a daily basis as the primary source of contact. This electronic file sharing supported real-time selective engagement of various areas of responsibility, including safety, quality assurance, project management and managing mechanical discovery issues. It also involved all stakeholders in real-time decisions to aid reliability and enabled the logistics of efficient scheduling of plant resources."
Baltzegar adds, "SharePoint and Six-Step meant that scope changes on a 'moving target' were communicated effectively, avoiding lost revenue and unexpected downtime. Also, electronic file-sharing accelerated repair decision-making, and it can be leveraged for future maintenance planning. Consequently, we were able to complete the control valve repairs within the scheduled maintenance window. Using industry-derived data for shop-time to repair vs. number of valves, we actually achieved a three-day reduction in our repair window over that expected for a similar turnaround."