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Plant Shutdown Risk Management

May 24, 2019

Plant Shutdown Risk Management

Plant shutdown is one of the most high pressure situations your maintenance team might ever experience. While preventive maintenance offers increased plant reliability and ease of installing new components, there are risks associated with large-scale maintenance programs and shutdowns. As a plant manager, it’s critical for you to have a risk and safety management strategy in place while controlling cost and unexpected situations.

Simply put, risk refers to situations where things deviate from the project plan. Risk is something you can’t avoid when it comes to shutdowns or downtime. The impact of risk largely depends on the way you plan a shutdown. Lack of experience, uncertainty about the magnitude of repair required, and over-aggressive estimates can lead to issues like cost overrun, delays, and lost productivity. It becomes easy to manage these situations when you have a comprehensive risk management plan.


It’s advisable to estimate the additional cost of risk by visualizing the worst possible scenario against the planned outlay. The role of risk management is to get things back on track and keep everything under control even if something serious goes wrong. Costs aren’t just limited to immediate expenses of resolving an issue.

Lack of risk management capabilities leads to loss of customers and unfulfilled orders. So, before taking over a shutdown project, develop a comprehensive picture of possible consequences and estimate cost accordingly. It’s not possible to calculate every risk in terms of cost; however, pay due attention to risk factors that have the greatest potential to cause delays and disruption.

Visualizing risk

It’s a critical job to accurately comprehend the magnitude of the risks involved in a shutdown. There are several factors you need to take into account when outlining a project. Complex tasks typically involve the likelihood of encountering difficulty. The following are some of the factors that can flag a process for being a likely delay:

  1. Aggressive estimates can create serious bottlenecks when it becomes excessively difficult to avoid delays.
  2. Unfamiliar tasks can also make things complicated during a shutdown. Seeking professional help from outside resources is recommended here.
  3. Scarcity of labor and materials required to accomplish a task can cause major delays.

Risk response control

The risk you expect should be monitored using the risk management strategy you develop. When you pay due attention to shutdown risk management, you’ll go through a tightly controlled shutdown with fewer incidents. A well-planned and well-executed shutdown program or preventive maintenance plan generates high returns and provides numerous benefits down the road.

If you don’t have a maintenance department capable of planning and executing plant shutdowns, consult a company that specializes in preventive maintenance and shutdowns. If you’re looking for shutdown services in Edmonton, feel free to contact Quality Millwright.