Turnaround excellence is key to improving business performance

A major downstream gas refinery was competent at preparing and executing their shutdown and turnarounds across its six production sites. The problem was that it couldn’t achieve the major performance improvements the business required under its existing working practices. Without upgrading its current framework to standardize processes across the board it was unlikely to meet future targets.

To achieve this, T.A Cook carried out a best practice review using its rigorous methodology, quickly identifying that key processes across all sites were underdeveloped and standards differed markedly between sites. The review concluded that by adopting best practice methodology, over a five-year period the company could achieve potential cost savings in excess of €100 million. Subsequently, the company sanctioned a multi-site turnaround excellence program using a standard best practice approach that would deliver these results.


of sites included in 16 month project


Targeted 5 year gain in production sales


Targeted 5 year gain in TAR budget


Targeted improvement in productivity


The project was driven by the company’s central turnaround function in collaboration with site representatives. Over a 16-month period, T.A. Cook used its unique experience, skills and knowledge to support the project through the design and implementation phases. However, there were several key challenges that had to be overcome first to ensure the project met its objectives.

Key Challenges
A common problem with centrally-driven initiatives such as this is that they seldom deliver what is required. This is because guidelines are decided on remotely, with minimal input from sites, and then the sites are forced to implement them. Because sites interpret their own requirements, standards differ from site to site, therefore;

1.  The project required improving preparation standards across 12 different work groups, including  process, scope, planning, scheduling and HSE, many of which were dependent on the progress and outcome of others.

2.  To ensure that the necessary progress was made, regular workshops had to be scheduled to train staff in the new processes, which required them to travel to get there.

3.  Several teams initially struggled to see the bigger picture, their focus was very much site orientated Cultures, working practices, and experience and knowledge differed considerably between each member, appreciation of what good looked like varied.

4.  Sites were at different stages in their turnaround cycle and preparation phase, which affected their ability to start implementation, and introduce and embed the new standards that would provide immediate change and sustainable benefits.


Overcoming the Hurdles
1.  Site participation was required for the lifecycle of the project and the following change management principles were implemented:
- Participation of all sites in the turnaround standards definition phase;
- The appointment of local champions who owned and drove the implementation;
- A uniform turnaround standards training program across all sites;
- Localized training of key stakeholders at all sites;
- A project steering team that included site managers.

2.  T. A. Cook worked with every team to manage the alignment process. Where synergies between the different work groups were obvious key stakeholders participated in both work groups to ensure continuity.
3.  Face-to-face workshops were restricted to developing ideas. Any editing or reviews were done by video. The duration of face-to-face workshops were increased to one or two days. T.A. Cook used best practice standards to accelerate the project’s design phase.
4.  By advocating best practice principles and sharing similar problems it became apparent that each site was not as unique as initially thought. Compromises were required to enable sites to make their own enhancements beyond the standardization program.
5.  Two different implementation approaches were applied. Standard training was used where applicable, but if that wasn’t possible a train-the-trainer approach was adopted.


  • A high level of shutdown and turnaround standardization across the sites based on best practices
  • Improved quality of shutdown and turnaround preparation
  • Increased transparency and manageability (identifying deviations in progress early and taking appropriate action)
  • Significant reduction in risk
  • Improved team alignment and cohesion across functions
  • Shutdown and turnaround performance comparability between sites and with peers
  • Long-term reduction of shutdown and turnaround planning and preparation cost
  • Increased competitiveness as a result of optimised shutdown and turnaround cost and duration.



“Through various client mediums our team were frequently commended on our expertise and  deep knowledge in turnaround best practices. Our collaborative approach and dedication to helping them on their journey to achieving turnaround excellence was very much appreciated”

David Fleming, Senior Manager & Global Expertise Lead Turnarounds at T.A. Cook

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