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Key Considerations for a Smooth Capital Shutdown

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Every manufacturing plant schedules periodic plant“shutdowns,” or stretches where equipment is turned off for a designated duration of time. Facilities build shutdowns into their operating cycles for a multitude of reasons. However, most leverage the cease in operations to retool, clean, sanitize, and schedule repairs throughout the building.

Many Plants Schedule CAPEX Projects During Shutdowns

Plant managers also recognize that shutdowns offer an ideal opportunity to move forward with pending CAPEX construction projects. Bringing in a CAPEX construction team while lines are turned off eliminates the threat of inadvertent contamination and other production risks, making it the safest time to do work inside the facility.

While scheduling capital expenditure construction during a shutdown reduces operational vulnerabilities, it’s important to know that managing the entire CAPEX project internally requires coordination of multiple moving parts. This is especially true for plant managers moving forward with several projects simultaneously. Bringing in and overseeing outside contractors requires extensive upfront preparation and meticulous attention to detail to ensure a strong plan is in place before contractors begin work.

Some key considerations to help avoid project mayhem during a shutdown project execution include:

Contractor Onboarding

The process typically launches with a general discussion about how to arrive onsite and begin working safely. During the onboarding phase, it’s essential to offer advanced communication on the plant’s specific work rules and regulations. The plant liaison or construction manager (CM) should connect with each contractor individually, or schedule a group training session. Now is also the time to have contractors send training certifications and operating licenses.

Create an Execution Overlay

This is the execution drawing or construction drawing that outlines the facility's layout and designates different project areas. The execution overlay should include boxes over where the contractors will be and labels detailing the work. The drawing should also depict integral maintenance and sanitation activities as well as a plan of where these resources will be in relation to the construction plan.

Staggering Contractor Arrival Times

Each facility typically has a security gate where incoming contractors must show their credentials for security badge clearance. Large facilities undergoing multiple CAPEX projects may have dozens of contractors arriving at the same time, quickly overrunning the security gate. Engage Security to discuss “best plan” for clearances or badging, and coordination with plant employee activity. Assign contractors arrival times on site ahead of time, and as coordinated with Security. Staggering individual companies by 10-15 minutes to avoid overloading the security gate may help to reduce confusion.

Work Area Definition and Access

Develop a floor plan and schedule for the work area, and engage Plant Operations for review and “buy-in” to the plan. Ensure that all parties understand the plan, schedule and the safety controls that may be in place. Place caution tape, (with signage explaining the existing & potential hazards) or other containment material for a visible barrier between designated work areas and the rest of the facility. Plant managers or construction managers should also outline routes in and out of the contractors' areas, so workers understand the hazards and restrictions to limit the risk of safety incidents and potential contamination.

Daily Coordination Meeting

The CM should coordinate a daily meeting between contractors and key personnel, including operations, logistics, sanitation, and maintenance staff. The daily meeting serves as an “real-time” opportunity to synchronize scheduling, make adjustments to the work area, and the work that will be performed. The daily meeting also presents an opportunity to review plans and activities for the current day, and for the next 24 / 48 hours. This will also lead to developing any special coordinations that may be required for the contractor, or to benefit the client’s activities. It’s also the time to communicate the areas where contractors will be that day, discuss any specific needs they may have, address access requirements, and coordinate all essential activities on behalf of the client.

Schedule a free consultation

Perry Construction Management provides customized shutdown CAPEX construction projects to reduce risk, eliminate contamination, and prioritize client scheduling. PCM offers site assessments for OSHA compliance, COVID-19 preparedness and other regulatory requirements. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

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