Take two – avoiding a breakdown over shutdowns

Back in August 2018, we shone the spotlight on Avoiding a breakdown over shutdowns.

Three-and-a-half years on, every single word written in the article is relevant today.

Shutdowns are still risky business, there are still deadlines, there is still a huge amount of work, and a lot of money that can still be wasted the longer they take.

Let’s take a quick recap on the importance of a shutdown. It’s essentially switching off  critical business asset until planned maintenance has been completed. A shutdown is put in place to ensure all the planned work gets done safely and as efficiently as possible and at a minimum cost.

Many people are involved, and it needs an all-hands-on deck approach to ensure everyone is supported and on the same page – from the top management roles to junior team members with little experience. The flow on affects can filter quickly when something goes off track, so the right people need to be on board.

Not only does it affect the quality of work, but it can also take a mental toll on people as well, so a positive team culture is important. Looking after mental health during this time can really make a difference, so support from family and friends goes a long way.

Each year, GBA Projects provides services to numerous shutdowns. So, to look back, reflect and learn from them, makes us stronger the next time one is planned.

This is what our star Team Leader and Senior Consultant Bruce Oldfield has learnt in the past few years which can be put into practice today.

  • I lived by the 80/20 rule - get 80% of task correct and left the 20% that I thought was distraction.
  • As opposed to trying to do everything myself, I delegated better and got people to stay in their swim lanes and take ownership for sub areas.
  • I invested time in building relationships between planners and execution teams – this paid off when it came to getting efficient updates and forecasts.  
  • I was able to leverage off previous relationships from BHP resources and that helped getting answers.
  • The previous experience also allowed me to mentor and support people around me that were on a first major shut when I noticed them having a wobble.
  • I tried to keep the team positive by highlighting the small wins and achievements.
  • I also had in the back of mind, that GBA would offer some back of shop support at short notice if I needed help.
  • On a personal note, I did 3 things better:
    • Continuously speaking to my wife and kids
    • Made sure I got as much sleep as possible
    • Did not take anything personally

Yes, a shutdown may seem scary and daunting, but if the proper planning and personnel are in place, anything is achievable.

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March 07, 2022

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