7 Pre-Outage Activities to Reduce Downtime & Increase Efficiency

Gas Turbine Controls Corporation (GTC) and its subsidiaries, GTC Services (USA) and GTC Services Ltd. (UK), present this blog post with the intention of helping your plant improve its pre-outage contingency planning. By sharing these best practices with you, we hope to assist your plant in minimizing its downtime and getting back on track as swiftly as possible.

We recommend that your major turbine generator outage planning should begin early—18-24 months prior to commencement. During this period, you should give yourself the opportunity to do the following pre-outage activities:

1. Review all available reports of prior outages

Summarize the issues you notice in the reports. See if you notice any trends or irregularities, such as part replacement or chronic component cracking. Make a contingency plan to address those issues should they arise again. By procuring material in anticipation of potential repairs, you save yourself costly expediting charges and delays for parts that otherwise you’d be waiting on during the outage.

This is especially true if you rely on parts that are difficult to acquire, such as the GE Speedtronic™ Mark III.

2. Perform a thorough pre-outage operational data review

Not only does this give you a useful comparison to determine the success of your post-outage overhaul, but it helps find any abnormalities that should be included into the full scope of your outage. Be sure that you check your startup events, particularly key supervisory instrumentation variables like vibration, bearing temperature, and differential expansion.

While you’re at it, consider a review and risk rating of all applicable unit technical advisories—they may alert you of pending availability issues or recommended parts replacement for your outage.

3. Equip your facility in advance

Take time to carefully consider what construction equipment you need, and be sure you have it ready and available. When you don’t have the right equipment during an outage, you open yourself up to expensive delays, or worse, injuries from workers using the wrong equipment. Don’t just think about the situations you anticipate happening; consider the unexpected turns your outage could take and prepare for those, too.

4. Train your staff before the outage even begins

When an outage is ongoing, training your less-experienced workers puts strain on both your trainer and trainees. By training them in advance, you give your employees time to ask questions and understand potential problems before they occur, making a future crisis far less stressful. When your staff is trained and capable, your entire plant benefits from the increased efficiency of your operations.

5. Use proper staging & logistics in your project

Good logistics can be the difference between a seven day or a seven-hour project, so ensure your material is on hand and staged properly. Involve any relevant outside contractors in your planning and address specific work areas, drive paths, and safe locations for staging away from energized equipment.

6. Organize a site-specific safety plan

One invaluable advantage of early planning is you have time to create a comprehensive, site-specific safety plan. Talk to the local first responders in your area and inform them of the hazards your work involves, so that if the unthinkable occurs, the medical staff is aware of what to look for.

It’s common for outage work to occur in isolated areas, which means you’ll want to make sure your crew knows where the nearest medical facilities are. Drive them there in advance to get everyone familiar with the location—don’t rely on a recalculating GPS the day of your emergency.

7. Consider the health of your workforce

When you determine the manpower for your project, consider the work hours that are reasonable to expect from your workers. Short-term savings from scheduling 16-hour days a week with a smaller team can translate to long-term costs due to the increased chance of hazards and poor performance.

Healthy, efficient workers are less likely to be injured on the job, and more likely to perform cost-effectively. Plan to rotate your workers and give them time off for every ten days they work. To that end, determine ways to monitor your workers’ health and fatigue during the planned outage. Your team should be hydrated, eating well, and stretching in the morning to keep them working in a safe, time-efficient manner.

If you’d like to learn about how GTC’s services can help you prepare for your next planned outage, contact your regional GTC sales representative or call us at (+1) 914-693-0830.

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