19 Nov 2018

Turnaround Planning – Considering Power Requirements During a Strategic Planning Process

Refinery at night

If you’ve ever planned a turnaround, you know how intense it can be. 

Not only do you have to account for any downtime that might happen when equipment is taken offline, but there is always the possibility that shutdowns and outages might make it last longer than it needs to.

If that happens, do you have systems in place to avoid losing thousands in revenue? Do you have a backup plan that you can turn to at the last minute to save the day? Perhaps the better question to be asking here is, what things do you need to consider to make sure your next turnaround runs smoothly? 

Today, thanks to an increase in reliable equipment, more monitoring systems, and predictive maintenance, turnarounds are less frequent than they used to be, but they still require a certain amount of planning, especially when it comes to power.

Think about it: 

For the few days, weeks, or months that a turnaround is taking place, you’ll need backup processes in place that might need different power requirements than your usual setup. On top of that, turnarounds use intense bursts of energy; sometimes there are multiple maintenance services and repair processes happening at once which means power levels might drastically increase during this time. 

Considering your power needs before a turnaround takes place can help mitigate any negative effects and keep downtime to an absolute minimum. 

Strategic Planning for Temporary Power Can Save You Millions

Take one large refinery that was due a turnaround on its Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) reactor. During the turnaround, it would need added power for pre- and post-welding but, because the plant had not had a good experience with bringing in temporary power in the past, strict criteria needed to be stuck to. 

For starters, the plant manager didn’t want the refueling trucks near the FCC for safety reasons, which was tricky considering there wasn’t much space to work with at all. Add to that the fact that they wanted to avoid generator emissions triggering CO monitors and forcing staff to stop working and it was evident that the plant needed to come up with some fresh ideas. 

This is where we came in. At Aggreko, we specialize in doing things differently and coming up with novel ways to solve power problems just like the one this refinery was having. Often, this is an absolute necessity when planning for a turnaround, particularly if you’re tight on power, time, and space. 

Our solution involved installing 17 MW of power in an empty space near the FCC reactor (though not so close that it would be a hazard) and running cables between the two pieces of equipment. 

The system started by increasing the voltage of the generator to 4,160V for transport to the FCC, and then we lowered that to 480V for use inside the plant. This saved money and provided the plant manager with peace of mind because the lower voltage meant less emissions and less chance of workers having to stop for health and safety reasons while making sure production was still running as usual. 

Keep Your Site Safe and Emissions Low

Keeping a turnaround site safe plays a huge part in making sure things go without a hitch. Think about what an unsafe site would mean for your plant: would it mean workers would have to stop their contracts for the foreseeable future? Would it mean a loss in revenue? Would it mean penalties from local and government bodies?

The risks aren’t worth it, which is why we place such a heavy emphasis on ensuring our systems and solutions adhere to health and safety protocols. 

This often means our solutions involve installing temporary power supplies that are specifically designed to pump out low emissions and work as efficiently as possible without damaging the environment or your equipment. 

For this particular plant, our temporary power solution meant that worker CO emissions weren’t an issue at all. In fact, the total emissions were 18% lower than anticipated. And, because we used less generators at higher efficiency levels, we saved the plant $1.4 million on fuel and generator costs. 

As you can see, making a strategy plan for a turnaround can save you an incredible amount of money. Ensuring that you have the right amount of power operating in an efficient way is one of the most important things you can do to make sure the turnaround runs smoothly and doesn’t cost you millions in revenue. 

Without planning ahead, this refinery might have lost a considerable amount in revenue and faced a hefty amount of downtime if emissions remained high enough that the workers couldn’t do their job.