From traditional Turn Around to predictive maintenance?

Turn Arounds, which play an extremely important role in the chemical industry, represent a challenging core business for Sitech Services. Together with our customers and contractors, we are doing all that we can to achieve sustainable solutions, but in doing so we are coming under increasing pressure from external factors, not just from the European market and as a result of environmental policy, but also because of the shortage of well-trained personnel and the aspiration to minimize downtime in the production process.

Turn Arounds form part of our everyday activities. As one of the few market parties to provide this service, we offer expertise and continuity. Asset owners who need to complete a Turn Around once every four to six years will find it virtually impossible to maintain a specialist team of their own. However, we have all of the expertise in-house, spanning the complete chain from Turn Around managers and sourcing through to materials management. In fact, we deploy tight-knit, experienced teams to carry out each and every Turn Around, plus we have the volumes of logistics equipment available to keep this specialism up and running.

In order to maintain our unique position, we need to be constantly innovating and anticipating the market. Production plants are aging all the time and Turn Arounds therefore become more radical, while we are required to achieve more using smaller numbers of personnel. It is possible to do this by making monitoring smarter, fitting sensors, and applying innovative technologies, but this also requires collaboration between all of the parties concerned in order to gather data and to systematically evaluate the plant with a view to improving it. This means that you need to step out of the ‘bubble’ of your own plant and look at how you can initiate improvements from the perspective of the chemicals industry as a whole, with the aim of increasing plant uptime by incorporating preventive measures in your operations.

This raises the inevitable question: will predictive maintenance reduce the need for Turn Around? Will we see a future without Turn Arounds? That won’t be the case any time soon, but we can certainly make some progress towards it. The way we do that is to keep Turn Arounds manageable, while it becomes increasingly difficult to gather all of the required resources. We can no longer afford to carry out any unnecessary activities in a Turn Around. Working with new technologies enables us to predict damage or soiling and prevent unnecessary maintenance work. That way, we can work towards a situation in which fewer and smaller-scale Turn Arounds are carried out, although the human touch will always be required.

Marc Dassen,
CEO Sitech Services

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