Effective Planning for Turnarounds

In industries such as oil and gas, chemical, and power, the importance of regular maintenance and system upgrades can’t be overstated. These operations often take the form of a ‘turnaround’, a period of planned shutdown during which repairs, renewals, and other intensive tasks are carried out. But while turnarounds are essential, they’re not without challenges. Effective planning and execution are critical to maximize efficiency and minimize downtime.

In this blog post, we delve deeper into the significance of effective turnaround planning, focusing on the innovative strategies of NOOTER.

The Need for Turnarounds

Welding Pipe Flange

Turnarounds represent crucial opportunities for industries to invest in their future. By extending the life of industrial plants, they maintain efficiency, safety, and profitability, even as the machinery ages. During a turnaround, a plant or a specific process unit is entirely shut down for a scheduled period for inspection, maintenance, testing, and necessary equipment repairs.

The key reasons turnarounds are critical include:

  1. Ensuring safety: By resolving potential issues, we create a safer working environment for our employees and a safer facility for the environment.

  2. Regulatory compliance: Turnarounds provide an opportunity to ensure our processes align with legal and industry standards.

  3. Maintaining operational efficiency: Routine maintenance prevents unexpected breakdowns and costly disruptions.

  4. Extending plant life: Regular turnarounds can significantly extend the operating lifespan of a plant or process unit, providing a solid return on investment.

NOOTER’s Approach to Turnaround Planning

Setting up a crane in a refinery

At NOOTER, we bring our century-long experience to bear in the field of turnaround planning. We have developed innovative processes that have redefined the industry standards for turnaround services. Our unique approach combines meticulous planning, problem-solving agility, and an unwavering commitment to safety and quality.

Key Steps in Effective Turnaround Planning

Construction the platform for the crane

Effective turnaround planning is a multi-step process that requires precision and coordination.

It broadly includes:

Preparation and Planning Phase:

  1. Scope definition: Clearly defining the scope of the turnaround is the first and most crucial step. It sets the boundaries for all subsequent planning.

  2. Work plan: Based on the defined scope, we develop a detailed work plan and schedule, identifying tasks, and timelines.

  3. Resource allocation: Efficient resource management ensures we have the right people and materials at the right place and time.

  4. Risk assessment: Potential risks are identified, and mitigation plans are put in place.

Execution Phase:

  1. Work plan implementation: Following the defined plan while staying flexible to adjust to unforeseen circumstances is key.

  2. Departmental coordination: Close collaboration among all involved departments ensures smooth execution.

  3. Communication: Regular updates and clear communication help avoid misunderstandings and keep everyone on the same page.

  4. Safety: Strict safety protocols are maintained throughout execution to ensure the well-being of all involved.

Review Phase:

  1. Post-turnaround review: After completion, we review the entire turnaround process to identify successes and potential areas of improvement.

  2. Success evaluation: The success of a turnaround is evaluated based on predefined KPIs, including duration, budget adherence, and operational efficiency.

  3. Lessons learned: We strive to continuously improve by learning from each turnaround and incorporating these insights into future planning.

Successful Turnaround Execution: Nooter Construction’s World-Class Coke Drum Replacement Project

Rigging on a coker derrick drill system

Executing a successful turnaround project requires meticulous planning, experienced contractors, and innovative problem-solving. NOOTER’s recent completion of a coke drum replacement project exemplifies these qualities. This case study highlights the key factors that contributed to the project’s success, including extensive planning, collaboration, communication, and a strong focus on safety.

Project Overview:

Nooter undertook a challenging coke drum replacement project, involving the replacement of six large coke drums that had been in service for 46 years. These drums, weighing 400,000 pounds each, required careful handling due to signs of aging and cracking caused by high-pressure/high-heat cycles.

Innovation and Experience:

Nooter implemented an innovative method for removing the old coke drums. They utilized a horizontal pipe through each drum and wire rope slings for lifting. This approach not only reduced the turnaround time but also eliminated potential risks associated with welding. The new coke drums, weighing 600,000 pounds each, were successfully installed.

Collaboration and Communication:

NOOTER emphasized the importance of collaboration and communication from the project’s inception. A highly integrated plan was developed, considering structural upgrades, cut line preparation, and installation of splice joint steel. Regular communication channels were established, ensuring a cohesive and efficient workflow.

Safety and Productivity:

Safety was of paramount importance throughout the project. Nooter implemented an intensive safety management plan and a “Stop the Drop” program, ensuring that every object was tethered to prevent falling objects. Craftsmen were empowered to halt work if they sensed any potential risks, leading to a secure work environment and improved productivity.


NOOTER’s successful completion of the coke drum replacement project demonstrates their expertise, innovation, and commitment to safety. Through extensive planning, collaboration, and open communication, they efficiently executed the project, replacing the aging coke drums weighing 400,000 pounds each with new ones weighing 600,000 pounds each. This case study underscores the importance of these factors in achieving a world-class turnaround execution and serves as an inspiration for future projects in the industry.

The Role of Safety and Quality in Turnaround Planning

Nooter Team at a Refinery

At NOOTER, safety and quality are more than buzzwords – they are the bedrock of our operations. We maintain a steadfast commitment to upholding the highest safety standards and ensuring quality at every stage of the turnaround process.

Our safety checklist includes:

  1. Safety Orientations: Every employee participates in comprehensive safety orientations to ensure a clear understanding of procedures.

  2. Safety Training: Beyond initial orientation, ongoing training programs reinforce and update safety procedures.

  3. Regular Audits: Safety audits and inspections are performed routinely to detect potential issues before they can become real hazards.

  4. Incident Management: Despite preventative measures, incidents may occur. We have a robust incident management system in place to effectively handle any unforeseen situations.

The Importance of Maintenance and Heavy Lift Rigging in Turnarounds

Lifting a Coker Derrick Drill System

Maintenance and heavy lift rigging are two core components of successful turnarounds. Regular maintenance ensures the longevity and efficiency of plant equipment, while heavy lift rigging is crucial for the safe and efficient movement and installation of large-scale equipment.

See: The Importance of Heavy Lift Rigging

At NOOTER, we have dedicated teams for both of these critical tasks. With their vast experience and rigorous training, our maintenance and heavy lift rigging professionals can handle even the most complex turnarounds, ensuring a seamless process from start to finish.


Effective planning is the foundation of a successful turnaround. It drives efficiency, ensures safety, enhances performance, and ultimately maximizes return on investment. At NOOTER, we leverage our extensive experience and innovative processes to deliver safe and quality turnaround services, setting us apart in the industry.

Tap Nooter for Over 125 Years in Turnaround Excellence

transporting a coke drum into the refinery

Are you considering a turnaround for your plant? Trust in the expertise of a company with a proven track record of countless successful turnarounds.

See: Expert Turnaround Services

Contact NOOTER today for a comprehensive, safety-first, quality-focused turnaround solution. With over a century of industry experience and a steadfast commitment to delivering excellence, we are uniquely positioned to meet and exceed your turnaround expectations.

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