In the United States, 94% of plants miss their scheduled start date after a process control systems upgrade. When schedules slip, expenses add up quickly. For plants operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, a single day of lost production can cost $600,000 or more. At that rate, the price of a delayed start-up will surpass your capital investment within a week. Fortunately, with some advance planning, you can ensure a timely start-up and avoid such losses.
At Avid Solutions, we collaborate with clients to identify, design, and implement the best industrial automation solutions. We also provide the installation and commissioning expertise you need to “Get Your Plant Back Online, On Time.” Based on that experience, we’ve compiled the following start-up guidelines for a successful automation system upgrade:
- Schedule compression is unavoidable, so be ready for it. You can reduce the effects of construction delays if you begin commissioning as soon as the first stage of installation is complete. Plan to assign a small team early on and then add engineers as necessary. You’ll also want to create two separate teams for identifying problems and completing repairs.
- Have the resources to ramp up quickly and the tools you need to support a dynamic team. Staffing needs can change daily during a start-up. In order for these changing teams to work together safely and effectively, accurate scheduling and open communication are critical. Make sure you have adequate communication channels available. Then, schedule teams in daily or hourly increments, and monitor their progress closely.
- Begin start-up planning during the FEL process and reevaluate priorities until completion. Identify the I&C Commissioning Coordinator months in advance. Work with the coordinator and other process and operations leaders to set clear priorities and document the commissioning process. Also, allow time to prepare red-lined site plans and other tools that will streamline testing.
Because a process control systems upgrade is a significant investment, you may find yourself looking for ways to reduce start-up expenses. But, outsourcing your start-up project to your install contractor or trying to manage it in-house comes with risks. Working with a dedicated start-up specialist, on the other hand, allows you to foresee and resolve issues that could threaten your project timeline.
Download the Get Your Plant Back Online, On Time White Paper to learn more about these guidelines, including specific steps you can take to guarantee a successful start-up after an automation or information system upgrade.