Refineries, petrochemical and chemical process plants operate around the clock, so it’s unsurprising periodic maintenance is required to keep operations running smoothly. Turnarounds — planned, periodic shutdowns of the processing unit for maintenance — are temporary by nature. Each shutdown is a unique undertaking, rarely performed by the same team, in the same environment or in the same way. That’s why choosing the right company to cover your worksite and protect and assist your employees is imperative to turnaround success.
Plant turnaround maintenance demands a huge amount of planning and manpower due to the sheer volume of maintenance activities that must be completed in a short timeframe. Hundreds of thousands of man-hours may be required, depending on the volume of the work and the window of opportunity.
Since turnarounds involve a myriad of interrelated activities performed at the same time, in the same place and often on different levels of the plant, it’s crucial to provide adequate shelter and space for increased staff and materials. Too many employees working in one area can cause congestion, which increases the chance of accidents, conflicts, errors or confusion, which can stifle operational efficiency and pose a real danger to your turnaround crews. Furthermore, keeping increased staff and materials on-site and close to their work can help increase productivity and keep your operations on track.
When selecting a provider for temporary turnaround structures, you’ll want to find a company that draws from decades of experience and understands:
- Differences between blast and non-blast shelters. Temporary fabric structures are more like traditional buildings than you might think. Many of these engineered structures can be equipped with HVAC, lighting and virtually any accessory found in new construction, from flooring to water services and everything in between. They offer on-site, climate-controlled accommodation for turnarounds and plant shutdowns, as well as severe weather solutions that can withstand extreme temperatures, heavy snow, rain or wind. Highly specialized blast-resistant tents take these protections a step further, keeping your No. 1 asset — your workforce — safe and secure on hazardous worksites, while still meeting your production goals.
- API Recommended Practice (RP) 756. This RP provides guidance for managing risks from explosions, fires and toxic material releases to on-site personnel located in tents by providing the guidelines for blast-resistant shelters. Tents that meet API RP 756 standards allow you to position break areas closer to process areas without risking the safety of your crews, which equates to maximum wrench time, flexibility, cost savings and break time. Newer blast-resistant tents can be scaled to meet your needs — 80-500 workers or more — providing a larger footprint to accommodate more people in a single space. Compared to a modular building with smaller capacity for personnel, you would need a great deal more traditional blast-resistant modules.
- Importance of lightning protection. Lightning strikes are responsible for directly causing fires, explosions, dangerous chemical releases and critical mechanical disruptions. By implementing a two-part protection plan in the construction of a temporary structure — a process that protects both the structure and the internal electrical system — many lightning-related problems can be avoided. A fabric structure lightning protection system intercepts bursts of energy from lightning strikes and conducts them toward the ground, where they are safely dispersed within the earth. With the energy diverted, the structure and all that is within it, including the electrical system, remain safe.
When seeking temporary and semi-permanent industrial fabric structures, look for a company with a documented history of innovation and excellence that you can count on to provide safe and compliant tent solutions, no matter how big or small your project’s needs. Such a company should hold ISNetworld, HAZWOPER, TWIC, DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency), PICS (Pacific Industrial Contractor Screening) and OSHA certifications, as well as site-specific credentials, to ensure the safety of its employees and your workforce on-site.
This article originally appeared in BIC Magazine.