Cost containment in times of recession has a direct impact on maintenance and turnaround (TAR) budgets. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified this pressure while adding extra constraints. The closing of international borders has limited travel of technical specialists to offshore platforms, and social distancing requirements have reduced bed space. Disruption to the supply chain has extended the time for spares to reach operating sites.
Is there a way to achieve excellence in TAR and backlog management despite the current constraints?
Challenges to backlog management
A task becomes part of the maintenance backlog when it is past the due date recorded in the CMMS. The aim is to reduce the number of tasks in the backlog as far as possible. However, the impacts of COVID-19 are threatening to move the average maintenance backlog in the opposite direction. We conducted a poll during our recent where 36% of respondents indicated an increasing backlog at their site.
Several factors contribute to a rising backlog. One of the most significant is a high number of unnecessary tasks because preventive routines are seldom changed even when circumstances change.
A higher backlog increases the risk of an incident. What makes it worse is that the more the backlog grows, the harder it is to quantify actual risk.
Moving towards excellence in backlog management
Achieving excellence in management is not only about lowering the number as quickly as possible. It is also about managing the risk.
- Evaluate the risk by collecting comprehensive and accurate information. A comprehensive functional hierarchy in the CMMS helps by highlighting the impact of a single piece of equipment on critical systems as a whole.
- Make information available in relevant forms for each audience. Excellence in backlog management requires senior management support in terms of resource allocation and a constant focus on progress.
- Use the full capacity of a CMMS, including closeout data and work order status.
Challenges to Turnaround Management
Delivering an excellent TAR depends on the quality of planning and preparation, execution, as well as governance and risk management. Each TAR consists of many individual activities, multiple resources and complex co-ordination, hence scope definition is a critical element of managing a TAR budget and schedule. Poor performance in any one area puts the whole platform at risk in terms of a safe and reliable return to operation within the expected timeframe.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has elevated cost reduction as the dominant driver for the next 12 to 18 months And organisations must review their TAR plans and strategies in light of cost reduction, without compromising on safety or reliability. Reduced availability of skilled resources and long lead times for materials adds to the complexity of this review.
Moving towards excellence in turnaround management
Cost reduction in terms of TAR management comes from reducing scope. But this must be done without increasing risk.
- Review calendar-based strategies. Statutory inspections are typically aligned with the major TAR cycle. But there may be room for deferral if the statutory requirement is five years, and the TAR cycle is 4 years. Damage mechanisms from service fluids are more related to time-based exposure than calendar time, which may justify deferrals.
- In seasons of reduced demand, it may also be more feasible to execute smaller TARs at more frequent intervals.
- Cost reduction work packages should be given priority in TAR scope.
- Limiting the use of specialist contractors is also vital. Social distancing reduces available bed space; and transporting personnel to and from the platform is expensive.
The number one driver for many offshore platforms for the next 12 to 18 months is cost containment. Maintenance and TAR functions are no exception. However, cost reduction must be achieved without increasing risk or missing statutory requirements.
The Asset Integrity and Maintenance Optimisation (AIMO) arm of Vysus Group's Register uses multiple software tools and years of combined experience to help companies navigate through the pressures of the current operating environment. Our services include maintenance and backlog reviews as well as TAR deferral consulting.