Refinery turnaround, also known as a shutdown or outage, is a scheduled procedure where a refinery or plant is taken “off stream” and undergoes maintenance, inspections and testing. Due to the fact that refineries deal with flammable materials under high stresses, government regulations set strict requirements for maintenance by inspecting materials for stress and corrosion.
In addition to regulatory compliance, refinery turnaround is an opportunity for the operator to conduct technological upgrades, raise throughput by clearing blockages and improve efficiency by incorporating new technology.
Upgrades undertaken during turnaround may include “debottlenecking,” which is the process of examining product flow to find throughput restrictions. These bottlenecks are then modified or eliminated to increase production capacity.
Other improvements can include expansion of capacity, installation of additional processing modules, upgrades to catalyst regeneration systems and much more.
Turnaround is probably the most stressful time in the life of a petroleum refinery operator, since refineries are huge operations with thin profit margins; therefore, the operating company has an interest to keep the plant offline for as short a time as possible, in order to minimize downtime and lost productivity.
Turnaround planning includes planning for the diversion of raw materials that are normally delivered to be processed by the refinery, as well as managing supply disruptions to businesses that buy the refinery’s products. Refinery turnaround planning requires a reliable estimate of manpower needed, as well as the assurance that skilled professionals will be available for the work at the scheduled time.
Loss of production and cost of the maintenance itself, in terms of labor, tools, heavy machinery and materials, make refinery turnaround an extremely expensive process. Mismanagement of a refinery turnaround can create a serious cash flow problem for a refinery operating company, which is why it’s necessary to entrust the process to contractors that have extensive experience and a proven record of competence in the field.
Minimizing downtime entails using not only the most reliable workers, but the most reliable tools that will perform in any conditions. Refineries and extraction facilities exist in every corner of the Earth, often in extremely hostile environments, from storm-battered ocean outposts to desert facilities that are tested by wind, sand and harsh sunlight. Tools that break or wear out quickly under such conditions will add delays to your schedule that your company can ill afford. This is why only the best power tools will do – and Widder Tools by High Precision Inc. have been engineered to meet the most demanding requirements and work in the harshest environments. High Precision Inc. also undertakes custom machining projects under contract for a wide range of industries.