New projects are becoming increasingly geared towards revamping their chemical processing plants. There are very few green-field plants (a new plant built on virgin ground) or brown-field plants (a new plant project within an existing facility that usually requires some demolition or remediation.) Instead, our projects tend towards a mixture of new work with modifications to existing facilities. The challenge is to keep production downtime to an absolute minimum.
For our company, a revamp project is one in which there is some new work but the majority of it involves extensive modifications to an existing unit. An example would be the revamp of a process train in which an existing process tower is to be replaced. The new tower would not simply be a like-for-like replacement but rather one that incorporates the latest design features. Consequently, installing it in all likelihood calls for considerable pipe and instrument modifications.
Since only the briefest time possible can be allowed for the existing unit to be shut down for the installation of the new tower, careful and detailed sequencing of the work is essential. Our approach is to group each of these types of needs into Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) work packages and then gather all the work packages together to represent the WBS for the total revamp project.
A revamp project of any size is a daunting task. The project goal is to add years to the lifetime of the facility, while minimizing production stoppages, and to ensure that safety, health and environmental issues are all addressed. Timing and scope are constant challenges. Generally a change in scope on a revamp project impacts the schedule to an extent not experienced on a green-field project.
Recently, when I approached my first revamp assignment I had a myriad of initial questions:
Hopefully the answers we found during our quest will enable new procedures and work processes to be developed that specifically address a revamp project. Traditional work process disciplines appear to fall short when it comes to the challenges of the revamp project.