Critical Path: Getting Your Outage Ducks in a Row
By Melissa Centurio Lopes on May 02, 2014
Witten by: Aaron Larson, POWER Magazine
Productive maintenance turnarounds are vital to long, successful online periods. Getting the work done quickly and properly takes more than just luck. Good planning and excellent communication can lead to safe and efficient outages with fewer hiccups and less stress.
It’s no secret that equipment requires maintenance. Just as your personal vehicle needs an oil change periodically, a power plant needs to shut down regularly for a tune-up to take care of all those little issues that would otherwise turn into big problems.
Most generating companies are preparing for outages continuously. When one outage ends, plans begin for the next. Often planning is in progress for major projects years into the future (Figure 1). Work list items that could not be completed for one reason or another are added to the next outage schedule. The entire process is a full-time job, often with entire departments focused on the task.
But what makes some maintenance periods go smoothly—coming in on budget and on time—while other outages hemorrhage with cost overruns, unexpected delays, and continual surprises? It is very difficult to foresee every possible problem, but planning for contingencies and scheduling appropriately are two vital tasks required to get all involved parties on the same page.