Turnaround Critical Path Reviews – Recommendations and Examples

Turnaround Critical Path Reviews – Recommendations and Examples


Critical Path Analysis, Schedule Optimization or Cold Eyes Review (call it what you want) are all designed to check your Turnaround (TA) Schedule for logic, manpower and equipment efficiencies that can affect the duration of the TA Schedule.  When margins are high you can have unit-down-days that are worth upward of $1MM/day.  For this type margin it pays to have experienced third-party TA Field Supervision/Managers (as are all our Becht Advisors) to facilitate these sessions. 

When Becht reviewers conduct these assessments, everyone in the review is told up front that there are no “stupid questions” – as there may be some who are afraid to ask a question.  We have found that these questions frequently lead to schedule or manpower savings. Other times, we just get people to look at doing a task a different and more efficient way. The reviewers not only evaluate the schedule to save time but also consider the schedule to determine if there is adequate time for a task.  This review can add hours to the schedule; however, the purpose of a Critical Path Review is to construct realistic timeframes. 

In Becht Engineering’s reviews, all proposed time and manpower changes are evaluated in planning sessions then consensus is reached and approved.  For items that require calculations, these are noted and addressed out of the review session – so not to delay the team’s planning progress.

Two items to keep in mind when considering whether or not to conduct a third-party review:

  • Even though the team of planners may have planned tens of thousands work activities assembling the TA schedule, there is almost always more than one way to do a specific task; and
  • Third party reviews will improve your schedule by analyzing just a few critical paths that make or break the schedule.

Below are two recent examples of schedule opportunities that Becht identified:

  1. Critical path on the TA was the revamp of a large tower with only a couple of entry points. All material, equipment and manpower going into the tower had to go through these two manways.  The Site was asked if a door sheet could be cut in side of tower at a lower elevation so material for section could be installed simultaneously with material going in top for the revamp.  When it was determined an x-ray of flush patch could be done in lieu of a hydro, even with the weld time of the flush patch, 5 days were saved.
  2. Critical path on the TA was the field welds on a large refractory lined Overhead line. Each field cut made added 3 days to the critical path when looking at cut out and weld up at end.  Lifts were being made with a cantilever beam due to access.  First, Site was asked if there was enough ground space available to lay the entire overhead line down at grade. When that was determined, we asked if a bigger cantilever beam cold handle the increased weight.  Once that was determined, 6 days were removed from the schedule which made a different job become the critical path for the TA.  Saved 4 + days off total schedule.

On both of these examples the sites were able to meet these new reduced schedules.

Becht has an excellent group of Subject Matter Experts to facilitate Critical Path Reviews.  We have had clients report they were amazed at the items identified in the review that improve their schedules.

If you would like to ask a question you may post a comment at the bottom of this page and the author will respond. If you need more information you can submit an information request by clicking the link below or email Steve:

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About The Author

Steve Tiek has over 30 years experience in refinery construction, maintenance, and turnarounds, based on his long-term career with Motiva. His experience includes project management, plant engineering, business development and refinery maintenance with emphasis in areas of turnaround planning, management, and field execution. Since joining Becht, Steve has helped one client manage an eight unit turnaround and set up a Turnaround Services Division for the company. He also assists clients to better coordinate the diverse services Becht Engineering provides related to turnarounds while helping clients facilitate turnaround readiness reviews, scope optimizations, peer reviews and critical path reviews.

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