Successful Shutdown Planning is in the Details

Successful Shutdown Planning is in the Details

David Braseth, Director Factory Operations 

Effective maintenance planning is an integral part of operational excellence. There will always be issues, but how you plan for those issues, how you execute that plan, and how you recover from those issues will have a major impact on the overall efficiency of your operation.

The key to any effective shutdown is developing a solid plan.  This can involve a number of subject matter experts who will provide good information to an individual, ideally the planner, who then compiles the data into a basic outline.  From that outline a concise and comprehensive plan can be built.

Below are the fundamental points to consider while putting together a plan:

  • Overall outcome – end result desired
  • List of outage tasks
  • Scope definition for each task
  • Sequence of events determined
  • Identifying and mitigating potential task hazards or obstacles
  • Determination of materials, tools and equipment
  • Realistic estimation of labor resources
  • Matching labor skills sets to each task
  • Task planning completion


Work packages need to contain all supporting documentation, prints, schematics and pictures.   This will include lockout site specifics, SOP’s, environmental and red tag permits, excavation checklists if needed, and any additional special instructions required.

Once the plan is in place and agreed to – execution of the plan is as critical to the overall success of the shutdown as developing the plan.  However, having a good plan always makes execution of the work easier.  A foreman or go-to person should be chosen based on leadership skills and knowledge of the project.  This person will have responsibility in overseeing work performance, timely completion of tasks, and shifting of resources if need be.

If the shutdown is around the clock, there should be a foreman for each shift. Communication handoff between shifts is absolutely critical – this will include work that has been completed, potential obstacles looming, and any required modifications to the plan based on what was found once the project was underway.

A manager or superintendent needs to be at the site or readily available in case higher level decisions need to made on dealing with hazards, obstacles or on overall scope changes.