Project Practitioners > Oh Oh, We Should Have Discussed This With Operations! Part II

Oh Oh, We Should Have Discussed This With Operations! Part II

By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B

This article is a continuation of last months article on Operators responsibilities

g) Participate in HAZOP reviews and pre-start up reviews, and file all review documentation as appropriate. The HAZOP is a Hazard and Operability Study. It is a structured and systematic examination of a planned or existing process or operation in order to identify and evaluate problems that may represent risks to personnel or equipment, or prevent efficient operation. The HAZOP technique is used to analyze chemical process systems and complex operations and uses software to record the deviation and consequence. A HAZOP is a qualitative technique based on guide-words and is carried out by a multi-disciplinary team (HAZOP team) during a set of meetings. It is important that Designers / Vendors work with Operations to design the process. For HAZOP reviews Operations have to be involved. If not all Operators can be present, the most experienced of Operators should be there. You need to look at the design from an emergency situation or issues that are outside of normal operatins.

Since no two plants operate the same, it is Operations who understand how this particular plant will operate and startup. Designers and Vendors can have their input into operation and startup, however, Operators should have the final say as to how it will be done. On my projects, I always work with Operations to ensure the designers and vendors have the correct information for their design. Operations should be at your weekly project meetings and should provide you with answers to your design issues. 

h)  Keep Operating Unit Foreman and Asset Managers fully informed of project status.  Have responsibility to report problems to foreman to pursue resolution through management, if necessary.  Promote 2-way communication. One of the problems management have is getting the warm and fuzzies about the project status. Is the project in control or just running away wildly. They like to feel they are in control so they require all kinds of reporting. On a daily basis Operators need to keep  their  management informed about what is going on with the project both positive and negative. Operations give management a different viewpoint from the other reports they receive. Operations is the most important report the get. I recently worked on a project where Operators from one unit wanted continual access through a project we were building in another unit. We were just getting ready to issue our drawings for construction when they suddenly appeared. The problem went up to plant management for resolution. Management sided with the Operators so we had to change the design to accommodate them. This redesign was a $500,000 change notice that management signed.

i) Assist in developing and ensure the completeness and thoroughness of training manuals for the processes being installed and constructed. Training is not an item that designers will be concerned with so Operators should be advising the designers of what training material they require. Training could be part of an equipment / process purchase order. As a project manager, you should be making training inquiries with Operations before you purchase anything. The sooner the training requirement is made, the better the chance of Operations getting what they need. Buy this I mean if you want a 3D model of something, then this should be advised so that it can become part of the design. Some facilities have a separate training group made up of Operators. It is up to them to make sure the manuals are up to date and the right people get the proper training. Just as important as adding a piece of equipment is deleting equipment. The manuals have to be updated to reflect the removal.

j) Assist in training unit Operators/trainers of new processes. When an Operator is part of your project team, they know the deep, dark secrets of what transpired during the design and can relate these during the training. There is always more than one way to solve a problem. With a project, the information used to solve a problem a particular way may not be apparent. During the training session questions may arise as to why this particular course of action was taken. The Operations Representative can explain the background. During training is not the time to try and change the design. This effort by some should be resisted every time it appears. If it is safe to run, they need to startup and fix it later if need be.

k) Assist the construction phase through work permitting and close communications with the construction coordinator and contractor. In operating facilities the Operators need to know who is in the unit and the contractors are following the unit procedures.  Operators are the ones who control entrance to the unit and should know who and what is transpiring in there. Sometimes, there are problems and the construction group need to know they can not get into the unit at this particular time. Operators know the long range plans for the unit. This information should be transmitted to the project and the contractors so plans can be made regarding access to the units. I worked in one facility that had a turnaround tax. The facility wanted the contractors to concentrate on the upcoming turnaround so one month before and three weeks after the turnaround they charged any project working in that time frame, that was not related to the turnaround, this turnaround tax.

All facilities have a permitting process and it takes coordination to get contractors permits without wasting a lot of time. Every morning contractors have to get their permits for the day and can sometimes spend several hours getting the permits. While waiting for the permits, the crew can not do any work in the unit. This is a cost your project has to pick up. Your project Operations Representative should organize the permitting to make the process as short as possible. From a contractors point of view, getting the permit can be a big issue.

l) Preparing existing equipment and piping for tie-ins.Any piping or equipment tie-ins have to be agreed to by Operations before the tie-in point is considered as final.  This review will typically involve a field walk with the Operation Representative to get by in. Once agreed to, a schedule of when the tie-ins can be done has to be agreed to. It is up to the Operators to determine when you can cut into the lines. This will usually involve a shut down of sorts, unless doing a hot tap. The Operators will get the piping or equipment ready for the tie-in. For piping, this usually means removing and replacing insulation. Facilities usually look after this item themselves rather than have any contractor just go in there and do it. Operators have to control who does what to their piping and equipment. One problem you will run into is managements desire to reuse equipment currently in operation for a different function. This is a disaster in the making as when you go to shut down the equipment and move it to a new location, Operators don’t give it up as they still need it. Then you are back to square one and have to get a new piece of equipment. If you want to reuse a piece of equipment in another service, make sure you have Operations buy in. 

I will finish Operators responsibilities next month.



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