About Automation & Turnarounds
A sizable percentage of work in turnarounds is low risk and just needs to get done. Automation offers the opportunity to minimize the amount of human management / intervention needed for these low-risk activities. Rather than wasting time writing reports, chasing after people, checking that work has been performed and holding meetings to confirm work is complete, it is actually possible to allow software do what software’s good at - automating things using predefined rules and logic. This in turn removes the need for human intervention.
The Strategic Value of Automation in Turnarounds
Automation is great for productivity. But it has more strategic value in terms of coordination and allowing you to create space to do the most effective things. This is possible because automation of routine activities enables you to get the noise off your desk every day. Furthermore, it enables you to identify the most effective things - which may not be the same as the most productive, short-term things - that need to be done. The more that systems can basically think for us and start us at a different point, the better chance we have to manage all the different things that happen during a turnaround.
“The more time that you have to analyze [the most effective things -METs], the better off you are. In order to generate that time, the more items that are automated through proper planning and preparation, you know that the more brainpower you can apply to those types of things.”
Dave Maher, SVP, Capital & Turnarounds, Delek US
In turnarounds, the possibility for automation provided by digitalization can be everything from the automatic generation of reports to increased productivity and reducing the investment required by skilled workers to do paperwork.
Automation Benefits by Far Exceed the Challenges
Automation requires the successful implementation of technology, and there’s the rub. Many turnaround stakeholders are challenged by change. This can be the result of reluctance to change, technophobia and digital phobia, actual readiness for change, and the effort required to implement change, to name just a few, as discussed in Can Digital Phobia be Overcome Through Education and Training?
But the role of technology is not to replace employees and expertise and enthusiasm. It is to raise the level at which you reach the tipping point - the point at which the ability to work and manage is overwhelmed by the rate of change or the degree of complexity or uncertainty, or all of the above - and lose control. Consequently, the benefits of automation in turnarounds by far exceed the challenges, enabling:
Automation of repetitive tasks
Better contractor/resource management
Less chance of mistakes
Support of people to do what they’re best at
Control of the turnaround
Positive outlook on the turnaround
Time to Address the Most Effective Things
In turnarounds, the primary goal of automation is to remove mundane / low-risk work, freeing workers and managers to focus on the Most Effective Things. That can mean many different things to the various roles active in turnarounds. Just consider the following examples:
Improving manageability – breathing room to better manage the unexpected, maintain options, know exactly where you are, get stuff done with minimal effort, and be a more effective manager.
Focusing on the things that have the most influence on the event.
Enabling people to be intuitive and apply their experience to the data being presented to them, which in turn supports optimization and prioritization.
Allowing managers to be more proactive and less reactive. Trends in data can be identified and corrective or continuous improvement actions can be put in place to address issues long before they have the opportunity to have a major schedule or budget impact.
Allowing workers to focus beyond just being busy and efficient, but also to focus on the correct and most impactful things to do.
Automation in Turnarounds is Becoming a Reality
For managers, automation eliminates time spent on routine and mundane tasks. By automating low-value tasks, managers can execute more efficiently on high-value work that will most benefit from human interpretation. For field workers, automation offers real-time prioritization to ensure that they are not only productive, but also effective, in the work they are doing.
Read more in our whitepaper entitled Automation of the Routine in STOs. And to understand how the first Digital STO Operating System intelligently integrates with your existing systems to deliver complete management of STO preparation, execution & analysis, schedule a demo.