January 17, 2024
Site Services

Be sure to ‘review the tape’ before your next outage season

By Zach Dillman

What does it take to get the best out of a team? Of course, it takes hard work and effort. But it also takes honesty and courage: The courage to be honest about performance and how to improve.

In professional football, the best teams are battling it out in the playoffs. They’re looking ahead to the goal they want to accomplish – a spot at the Super Bowl – but they are also looking back. They’re reviewing their last game to identify what they could have done better, what coverage was missed that now seems obvious on re-watch, and what unexploited opportunity they could have taken advantage of if they had seen it in the moment.

“Reviewing the tape” is standard practice for football teams who strive for championship status. Plant managers who strive for a world-class operation can take a page out of this professional sports strategy book as they prepare for the next planned outage.

Every outage season has its challenges that come with a set of expected and unexpected issues that will need to be tackled. But it’s in the off season – the time spent planning between outages – where the team can really come together and get prepared for the next “big game.”

Preparing for outage season

At AMECO, we use this time to communicate with plant managers and shutdown and turnaround supervisors to make sure we’re prepared for their next outage season. We help them “look at the tape” of their last shutdown and help identify what went well, the gaps in their coverage, and what challenges might be ahead in the spring 2024 outage season. And we have honest conversations about how we can be a better teammate going forward.

We use this feedback as well as industry forecasts to make certain we’re prepared with the right tools, consumables, and equipment that will be needed, and that our operations centers are stocked and ready to respond when the season begins. We ensure our scaffolding material is ready to ship, and our fleet of aerial lifts and light towers are inspected and ready for the field.

Just like winning an NFL playoff game, in a plant shutdown, there is only a razor-thin margin for error. For an outage to be counted as a win, everyone involved must be able to do his or her job safely, come in at or under budget, and on or ahead of schedule. Success comes from planning, preparation, and confidence, and no matter how much “pre-game” planning is involved, there will always be unexpected challenges that require a change of plans and an “audible” to be called. Maybe there’s a lack of headroom, or the plan for a crane pick isn’t working quite as anticipated. Or perhaps there’s a lack of lighting in the section of the plant that’s being worked on.

Avoid idol labor

When these challenges inevitably arise, the last thing you want is a delay of game. Making sure labor always has what they need so they can keep the job moving forward is key to meeting aggressive budget and schedule goals on a turnaround effort. There is nothing more expensive than labor idled because they don’t have the right equipment on hand, and then even worse, losing precious production time and revenue because you missed your startup milestone. Having the right relationships and knowing the best players to bring in during high-pressure situations is key to getting back on schedule. AMECO works hard to be that experienced veteran teammate with the cool hand who can perform when the pressure is on.

As the NFL season finishes, it will be exciting to watch the teams that are in the hunt make adjustments and do whatever it takes to keep Super Bowl dreams alive. The best prepared teams are the ones who prevail. They have spent hours watching their tape, expanding on what works well, and learning from their mistakes.

As you’re preparing for spring outages, be sure to “review your tape” so you can anticipate the challenges you are likely to face and identify the right players to call into the game to ensure your outage season is a winning season.

A version of this article originally appeared on BIC Magazine



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