Why maintenance shutdowns need to operate like ‘well-oiled machinery’…and the role Onsite plays

Tool Store

Performing a maintenance shutdown is usually a complex operation – particularly when you weigh up the need to balance maximum safety requirements with minimal operational disruptions. It’s essential work but can’t be executed while machines are operational, hence the necessary shutdown. And given every hour a site is idle equates to significant revenue losses, planning an efficient shutdown is critical to minimise downtime.

“It’s vital for shutdowns to operate like ‘well-oiled machinery’, which is why having the resources and equipment available to perform the works is so important,” says Iain Campbell, Onsite’s Regional Industrial Services Manager – Western. “Although certain core maintenance tasks might take as little as a few weeks, the preparation can take up to a year or more. Proper planning and ensuring that all elements are covered takes out the guesswork and eliminates any surprises.”

Over the past decade, Onsite has been involved in around 120 planned shutdowns for mining, construction, oil & gas and manufacturing operations, predominantly in geographically remote areas in WA’s Pilbara and Goldfields and also in the Southwest, where Onsite assists various clients with shutdowns on a regular basis. The longest shutdown Onsite has worked on was a 1000-man, 90-day shutdown for a WA nickel mining site, while the shortest was a 500-man, 45-day shutdown for a power station.

For large, manned shutdowns, we usually receive support requests many months in advance, while for smaller manned shutdowns we receive requests weeks or months prior, and unmanned shutdown requests – such as for tooling containers – might only be a matter of a couple of weeks’ notice,” says Iain.

Tailored solutions

Onsite has a dedicated shutdown team consisting of local teams that mobilise to shutdowns as and when required. There is also a FIFO team that works fulltime on client sites where 24/7 tool stores are required.

Onsite also has an extensive list of equipment – 50,000 individual pieces – available for planned shutdowns. This includes mechanical hand tools, electric and battery-operated tooling, specialised hydraulic tooling, hydraulic lift and shift equipment, electrical testing equipment and intrinsically safe tooling used primarily for the oil & gas sector.

“Every shutdown is slightly different in nature, which means the tooling requirements change according to the shutdown and our clients’ needs,” says Iain. “We work closely with clients to deliver a fit-for-purpose bespoke tooling solution to execute the shutdown in a safe and cost-effective manner.”

Clients have the choice of a range of tool store offerings ranging from a more simplistic solution – i.e., the supply of industrial tooling from Onsite’s branch network. Onsite also supplies unmanned tooling solutions consisting of tailored gang boxes and tooling containers. By far the most popular solution for medium to larger shutdowns is Onsite’s manned tool store option: a self-sufficient tool store containing all the equipment required by the client in addition to the labour to manage the tool store 24/7.

“With this solution the tooling remains off-hire in the tool store until the equipment is booked out to an individual, at which time the equipment is then on-hire,” explains Iain. “We can also supply long term site-based tool store solutions, which can be on sites for many years, with our team members mobilising to site on a FIFO basis. Unmanned tooling containers can also be supplied on a rotational basis – i.e., supplied to site but rotated back to our Industrial Service Branch for audit/repairs, test and tagging etc.”

Tool store management

Onsite has a dedicated team of Tool Store Controllers who are trained in many aspects of managing the tool store. They use Onsite’s proprietary inventory management software to manage tooling, electrical test and tagging training, inspections of rigging equipment, forklift operations, and minor repairs of tooling.

Providing vital data is also a vital role. “The most requested data from clients is what’s out on hire and to whom, whether it’s a person or company. We keep track of both,” adds Iain.

Onsite’s role

  • Pre-shutdown is a crucial component: Onsite works closely with clients to plan the types of equipment required, technical requirements, specifications and volumes required for the scope of work.
  • The Onsite team manages the tooling as well as the consumable requirements as required.
  • All equipment is tested and tagged and once the order is confirmed Onsite then picks and packs the tooling containers to the customers’ requirements and makes ready for transport to site.
  • The barcode from each item is scanned and allocated to the specific user (the system then records the transaction date and time and any other analysis coding specific to that site). This means each authorised user is identified within the system by their unique barcode, whether clients or contractors.
  • Onsite organises the transport logistics to ensure the equipment arrives to site prior to the shutdown.
  • Once on site Onsite sets up the tool stores in preparation for the shutdown.
  • Fully trained and inducted personnel are provided to man tool stores for the duration of the shutdowns, which can include day and night shifts over long periods of time (teams are swapped out to ensure compliance to fatigue management procedures).
  • Tailored reports (daily, weekly, or monthly) are provided to clients (i.e., spend, overdue equipment, damages and losses).
  • Once the shutdown is complete, the reverse logistics are organised by Onsite. That involves finalising missing equipment and advising clients, and then packing up the stores for demobilisation.

“Planning is key to our success and we engage with our clients as early as possible to work through the process,” says Iain. “The planning can be up to 12 months in advance for large shutdowns or long term site-based tool stores.”

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