Judging Readiness for Maintenance Pitstops/”Squats”

Judging Readiness for Maintenance Pitstops/”Squats”


Major Maintenance – work commonly called “Pitstops” or “Squats” – can be forgotten in the hectic world of Turnarounds and Routine Maintenance, so how do you judge the readiness and whether you are doing the right work?

Pitstops or Squats are normally smaller events in size and duration that fall between doing everyday routine maintenance and large heavily planned and scheduled turnarounds.  Although smaller in nature, these events can still cost millions of dollars and have durations up to 2 weeks.

Typical Maintenance Pitstops start out as short duration work that is postponed from major turnarounds in order to lower the cost or duration of the turnaround, or a catalyst change which is required more frequently than the Cycle Ending Interval.  While it is prudent to perform all possible work within the window of the Pitstop, in is important to monitor the work requested to avoid pushing the cost and duration of the pitstop past the intended premise.

So how do you keep this from happening?

Treat the Major Maintenance work as a mini-turnaround by defining the following:

  • Set up a premise for the event that includes cost and duration targets and get endorsement from Operations and Maintenance.
  • Require a readiness review at both the transition stages to detailed planning/scheduling and at execution.
  • Require a scope challenge for all work that is to be done in the event.
  • Consider using the same Management Milestones and KPI tools to measure whether the event is progressing as expected.
  • If these are frequent events at your site, you should consider developing an abbreviated Milestone chart to efficiently track that you are covering all bases, but is not as cumbersome as those for a “full” Cycle Ending Turnaround.

By setting the same criteria for smaller events, albeit scaled down from larger turnarounds, site personnel have known processes/timelines that they are used to dealing with, and surprises in cost and duration can be avoided.  This can be the breakthrough in total maintenance effectiveness that a site is looking for.

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About The Author

Clayton Smith has over 30 years experience in refinery maintenance, turnarounds, engineering operations and site management; based on his long-term career with Shell/Motiva. His experience includes plant engineering, business development, operations and refinery maintenance/turnaround - both at a site and corporate level. Since joining Becht, Clayton has brought his knowledge of Turnaround and Maintenance, to Becht's Turnaround Services Division, to better coordinate the diverse services Becht Engineering provides related to turnarounds. He is assisting clients to facilitate turnaround readiness reviews, scope optimizations, peer reviews and critical path reviews. While Corporate Turnaround Director at Motiva, Clayton was responsible for managing the turnarounds budget of over $200MM annually. As a member of Motiva’s corporate team, he was responsible for setting direction, targets and goals, and improving work processes to improve Motiva refinery turnaround performance in the US. Clayton also brings a wealth of maintenance knowledge to Becht Engineering, both in process development and execution. As Shell’s Downstream Maintenance Excellence Manager, Clayton implemented many new work processes. In cooperation with site work process leaders, Clayton served as a member of the corporate team responsible for setting direction and priority for implementation of new work processes across global downstream sites. His experience at Shell also includes work as both a Maintenance Manager and Major Projects Manager, with extensive experience in managing routine maintenance and implementing cost controls for both scheduled and turnaround maintenance activities. Mr. Smith holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with Honors from Florida State University , Tallahassee, Florida.

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