MAPCON Maintenance Software Article Series

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6 Ways a CMMS Can Make Shutdown Easier

Heather Wilkerson, Marketing Coordinator, Mapcon Technologies, Inc

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is one of the most helpful tools out there for executing a successful plant shutdown. Plant shutdowns are a major ordeal for any plant, as they are costly, complex, and disruptive, which makes having a CMMS even more critical than during non-shutdown times. Below are a few ways a CMMS can help with the planning and execution of a successful plant shutdown.

Timing. One of the most important things to consider when planning shutdown is the timing of it. Production schedules need to be analyzed to help determine timing. Plants that only operate during regular business hours will have an easier time scheduling shutdown than those that operate 24/7. Shutting down the plant during peak production times could be devastating. Many CMMS’ have reports that will show production information as well as many other key performance indicators (KPIs) which can be used to help schedule.

According to Inventory and Purchasing Agent Mark Bailey of Golden Grain Energy, planning for their plant shutdown happens year-round. During meetings, important things such as shutdown timing are discussed.

"We have weekly meetings to discuss what will happen during shutdown so we’re prepared." He explained.

Safety. Safety is always a concern for ethanol plants, but even more so during plant shutdown because of the increased staff and activity. Important documents such as safety procedures and disaster plans can be stored within a CMMS. These documents can usually be accessed from the mobile CMMS app, if one is available. Easy access to safety procedures can be helpful and potentially prevent disasters.

Planning and Organization. A CMMS is also a great tool to use in order to make sure everything for the shutdown is planned out as well as possible. One of the best organizational features within a CMMS that can be used during shutdown is a project. A project allows all work orders, projected costs, completion dates, and reports used for planning and executing the shutdown to be stored within the project, making finding information a lot faster. Reports such as the Project Costs Summary and Project Purchases Report can be run against the specific project instead of the entire plant, thus gathering shutdown data exclusively.

Certain reports within a CMMS can be extremely helpful for shutdown. For example, Golden Grain Energy runs an inventory report prior to shutdown to see if any parts need to be ordered. Having the parts available when they are needed will make shutdown run even more smoothly.

The purchasing module within a CMMS is also helpful for planning. According to Bailey, their plant uses purchasing in MAPCON to make sure all of the parts they need for shutdown are purchased well in advance, so nothing will be delayed. Users can also use a CMMS to make sure they have the necessary cleaning products on-hand.

Some systems, such as MAPCON, also have resource scheduling. This feature allows planners to schedule work orders, parts, and tools for technicians. Scheduling the work orders helps ensure the plant has proper staffing during shutdown. Scheduling parts and tools ahead of time secures them for those orders, meaning they will be available when needed.

Additionally, work orders and preventive maintenance (PM) tasks can be created ahead of time. Being able to see exactly how many work orders and PMs need to be completed during the shutdown allows managers to plan ahead regarding personnel. Outside contractors will likely need to be considered, and a CMMS can help discover exactly how many are needed, which area needs them, and how long they’re needed for, which can save both time and money. According to Bailey, their plant generally has about 490 PMs created prior to shutdown. After it’s over, he runs an open work orders report to make sure all of the work orders were completed, noted, and closed.

While ideally all work orders will be planned ahead of time, of course unexpected repairs come up. Tracking these unplanned repairs within a CMMS helps workers plan for the following plant shutdown by enabling them to now plan for them.

Plant shutdown is a critical time for everyone involved. A CMMS can be a helpful tool to keep things organized and running smoothly.


6 Ways a CMMS Can Make Shutdown Easier © was also published in Biofuels International Magazine, under the title, Smooth Transitions on November 9, 2018 with the author's permission without remuneration of any kind.

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