A German chemical company had taken an acetylene plant out of service that required certified industrial cleaning before final decommissioning was possible. T.A. Cook was asked to develop a cleaning concept that had to be approved by industry and government bodies.


After the operational shut down, the plant still contained residues and substances that were subject to the German Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung) and the German Federal Water Resources Act (Wasserhaushaltsgesetz, WHG). Although tests complying with the Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health were no longer necessary for official plant closure, requirements of the German Federal Water Resources Act remained. Safe decommissioning of this large plant included the following scope:


Thousands of pipes


Hundreds of actuators


Hundreds of instrument fittings/ gauges


Hundreds of pumps and other rotating equipment


The considerable size and age of the plant meant that creating a cleaning concept for this old production unit was a significant challenge.


To quickly create an overview, T.A. Cook engineers firstly separated hundreds of P&IDs into ones covering critical and non-critical assets. These critical asset P&IDs covered all main and auxiliary product pipelines throughout the acetylene plant. Non-critical asset P&IDs covered plans of storage facilities, PCS schematics and documents considered less important for the demolition phase. Hundreds of critical schematics were further divided into non-relevant and almost 200 critical P&IDs, covering equipment requiring cleaning and ones that didn’t, respectively. Applying this prioritizing approach allowed T.A. Cook to allocate specialists to each type of work, and to divide it into manageable work packages.


The concept included thousands of tasks that were planned in individual work packages by teams of experts. Each team was accountable for completing all required work packages of their designated area on time and budget. Applying a multi-layer 2D model to visualize selected assets highlighted the data needed with certainty. This focus on the required asset data allowed all decommissioning phases to be planned more efficiently than had previously been the case. T.A. Cook teams also determined equipment that needed to be demolished phase by phase by applying a pre-defined color code. Following these planning principles, engineers worked in parallel, creating a structured approach to safely and efficiently demolish the plant unit.


To stay on top of the entire demolition process a visual concept containing so-called “master P&IDs” was created. In these diagrams, all work areas were highlighted on a high level, and again, predefined color-codes were applied to allow for clearly differentiated assets and types of work. During all phases of the planning process T.A. Cook’s engineers spent more time in the field than in the office. These field inspections were required to ensure that drawings were correct, sufficient space was available for hoisting and lifting operations, and that pipelines, armatures and other equipment was located as defined in the drawings.


The team compiled a demolition master plan containing a clear work scope definition by demolition phase, including all required work packages, a schedule with details of each work sequence by trade, and all necessary documents such as flow diagrams, isometric drawings, site maps and photos. This highly efficient way of planning was only possible by developing templates by asset type and then generating required work packages for all assets of one type at the same time. This approach also allowed automated cross checks among several data sources and ensured that an optimized demolition sequence was followed, and all required documents were available. Dashboards showing KPIs of critical tasks were created allowing decision makers to pro-actively manage all phases.


During the preparation phase, T.A. Cook applied several industry best practices. For example, the local management team was able to keep track of work progress and to actively manage material flow using SAP, field tags and work permits. Linking one or several tags with the relevant work permit allowed for expediting equipment and parts from the plant unit to the wash bay and to the local storage place. These tags were also tied into the overall schedule allowing pro-active management of all demolition, cleaning, and logistics activities. 


After the conceptual design was completed, work groups started planning all required activities in their dedicated plant areas. After just 6 months, a pilot phase was set up in one plant area which validated the overall cleaning concept and demonstrated that work packages were adequately detailed allowing workers to clean and demolish equipment as scheduled. The trial also proved that after passing through the wash bay no parts would be contaminated and consequently, with the regulator satisfied, the necessary certificate was issued.


After completing the trial cleaning, all parts were cleaned and demolished in record breaking time. The German government body also certified that each cleaned spare part was not contaminated with chemicals and could safely be recycled. The procedure had proven successful and has been already applied in other plant sections.

"This project proved that T.A. Cook engineers are able to adapt quickly to changing requirements and challenges. In this project, we did not support the construction of a new plant but helped to safely and cost-efficiently demolish a plant unit in record time.”

Karlheinz Kuhlmann, Project Manager, Turnaround Management

"The discussion and exchange of information between the participants - in terms of approach to other companies - was very insightful."


Projektmanager ENGIE E&P Deutschland GmbH (GDF Suez)

"The T.A. Cook Seminar offers a diverse range of topics and varied speakers from relevant industries. Focusing on the network is a valuable part of the seminar series."



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