It seems like everyone is searching for ways to reduce their reliance on hard-to-find maintenance experts and use technology to reinvent their asset management programs. Like all-things maintenance, selecting solutions to optimise shutdown events safely isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair.

Shutdowns are inherently complex and expensive events representing up to eighty percent of an organisation’s maintenance budget. This means small changes can significantly affect your outcomes…for better or worse.

Contemporary maintenance teams typically choose between three popular shutdown management options, which I’ve called the good, the bad, and the ugly, for dramatic effect.

  1. The good – a dedicated/integrated shutdown management platform
  2. The bad – an engineering-driven bespoke shutdown solution
  3. The ugly – spreadsheets supported by manual processes

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each option.

A dedicated/integrated shutdown management platform (the good)

Using a dedicated/integrated shutdown platform across your entire shutdown cycle sets your organisation up for success – from attracting the right talent through to reducing overruns and potentially saving your organisation millions of dollars.

Technology specifically designed to manage shutdown events can be user-friendly, enabling you to train your maintenance teams to use the software in under 15 minutes.

Teams in the field have access to unprecedented levels of work management visibility and the information they need at their fingertips. Leaders can leverage essential information as part of powerful dashboards to speed up and simplify decision making. You can even ‘push’ notifications to a problem area so issues can be seen and addressed immediately.

These types of cloud-based technology tools also help teams implement continuous performance improvements and create a more sustainable solution in the longer term.

A dedicated shutdown management platform does have some additional costs when compared to spreadsheets and other simple tools. However, you can implement a platform, with all of its benefits, in as little as a few weeks.

The gains can be substantial. One Minset client improved their plant utilisation by three percent and saved more than US$10 million in a fiscal year due to fewer shutdown overruns.

Shutdown technology is never a substitute for good maintenance strategy and tactics

Before we move on, I want to be very clear about one thing. While a dedicated platform can revolutionise how you prepare for and execute your shutdowns, you won’t gain the full benefit unless you have robust maintenance strategies and effective work management systems in place. Irrespective of the technology you choose, your shutdown project and results will suffer if you don’t get the basics right.

An engineering-driven bespoke shutdown solution (the bad)

Many organisations start with fit-for-purpose shutdown strategies, schedules, and processes. However, as time goes on and team members come and go, conflicting logic and complexity creep in, and processes inevitably break down.

Solutions that were once simple become complicated and ‘people dependent’.  It becomes difficult to identify business risks and accurately assess progress status. Data gathered is no longer consistent and suited to analytics or continuous improvement activities.

While these issues become obvious at a site level, they tend to compound at a corporate level when central teams provide oversight and governance across multiple business units.

Shutdown spreadsheets supported by manual processes (the ugly)

Many organisations still rely too heavily on spreadsheets to manage their shutdown schedules. In this scenario, processes vary from team to team, and there is little consistency, continuity, or clarity across each event, making end-to-end shutdown management difficult.

Limited data visibility throughout the shutdown cycle also affects the site’s ability to accurately track and measure results, impacting overall productivity and increasing risks to the business.

While this solution is easy to set up and doesn’t cost a lot of money to implement, it often puts your people under a lot of extra pressure to manage the ‘gaps’ between spreadsheets. Overall, this solution isn’t sustainable and leads to unnecessary errors, confusion, safety incidents, and project overruns.

Next steps

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of a dedicated shutdown management solution, please contact the team from SMSi at 

If you would like to learn more about reinventing your shutdown strategy, thinking and events, please reach out to the Minset team.