Turnarounds & Shutdowns

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Shutdowns, Turnarounds, and Outages (STO) are commonly used terms, often interchangeably, to describe a planned or unplanned period of time in which a plant/facility, unit, or piece of equipment is out of service. In many process industries (e.g., refining, petrochemicals, chemicals, power generation, etc.), equipment operates 24/7, making it difficult to perform necessary inspection and maintenance work without taking said equipment offline. For this reason, facilities routinely schedule turnarounds, where a section of an industrial plant or the entire facility is shut down to perform major maintenance, overhaul, and/or repair operations, as well as to inspect, test, and replace process materials and equipment. These planned events also provide owner/operators with the opportunity to perform debottlenecking, process upgrades, and capital project improvements while the unit or facility is offline. The primary purpose of turnarounds is to conduct the activities necessary to keep the plant running safely, reliably, and as efficiently as possible.

Sometimes equipment goes offline unexpectedly or operators are forced to shut down equipment or an entire facility due to unforeseen events like power outages, fires, mechanical failures, weather events, or losses of primary containment (LOPC). These unplanned shutdowns or outages may or may not require immediate action, depending on the circumstances.

The cost of a shutdown, turnaround, or outage can be substantial, so owner/operators strive to optimize planning and work whenever possible. Far in advance of a turnaround, operators begin planning schedules and coordinating resources to ensure that personnel, budgets, equipment, and access points are available to accomplish the turnaround objectives safely and efficiently.  The better prepared owner/operators are for STOs, the greater their ability to minimize facility downtime.

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Articles about Turnarounds & Shutdowns
November/December 2023 Inspectioneering Journal

In this article, we’ll discuss the current challenges with turnaround planning and how data-driven modeling can help optimize scope, duration, and intervals.

Authors: Lewis Makin
November/December 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

Utilizing a risk assessment methodology to determine the amount of detail in our QA/QC plans, as well as who needs to be involved, may help us improve both the effectiveness and the efficiency of our QA/QC work process.

Authors: John Reynolds
November/December 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

With all the variables in play during a turnaround event, it is rare for all expectations to succeed together, during the same event. It is important to have a process in place, plan each step, and utilize certified inspection personnel.

September/October 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

COVID-19 has forced organizations to adapt. The old way of doing business, at least for some, is gone and will not return. In these challenging times, innovation is key. But is implementing a new innovation today any different than twelve months ago?

Authors: John Natarelli
July/August 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

Inspectioneering and Pinnacle co-hosted their 6th bi-annual Meeting of the Minds roundtable discussion earlier this year. This meeting’s focus was on how Covid-19 and the decline in oil prices have affected MI programs across the industry.

Authors: Jeremiah Wooten
Partner Content

Antea delivers highly flexible risk-based asset integrity software with 3D Digital Twin integration to optimize maintenance, reduce risk, and improve mechanical integrity for oil and gas, power generation, and chemical plants and facilities....


COVID-19 is disrupting all industries including asset management. Here are 6 recommendations to help you align your asset management according to new requirements and turn the challenges into opportunities.

Authors: Frank-Uwe Hess
January/February 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

Decision trees can be used to help with decisions related to nearly any closed loop mechanical integrity or inspection workflow process. This article focuses on how decision trees can be applied to heat exchanger tubular inspection.

Authors: Zach Burnett

When paired with the right software, the RBWS process can lead to significant reductions in turnaround work scopes. However, some software tools have distinct advantages over others.

Authors: Abby King
November/December 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

This article helps shine light on some common industry problems that can occur by having inferior UT procedures and practices, while providing several lessons learned through a case study that resulted in nearly $1 million in turnaround repairs.


Developing a comprehensive turnaround (TA) work scope for process equipment is a critical step for achieving a facility's business goals. Risk Based Work Selection is a proven process for prioritizing and optimizing planned work for an impending TA.

Partner Content

Whether you decide for a Computed Radiography scanner with flexible imaging plates or a flat panel detector with the fastest imaging, or even combine the advantages of both technologies, DÜRR NDT's innovative systems offer high reliability and...


Risk Based Work Selection (RBWS) is an industry best practice used to help refiners better-manage the safety and reliability of operations for a facility. When properly conducted, RBWS can help refiners optimize major turnaround projects.

July/August 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

Major maintenance events require proper planning, scheduling, and execution to achieve a successful outcome. An outage assessment process can deliver an effort that is safe, on budget, on schedule, and ensures long term plant equipment reliability.

Authors: Stephen Thomas
March/April 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

Creating a proper work scope and developing and executing an effective work plan are essential for a successful turnaround. However, behind the scenes exists the glue that pulls the entire effort together: logistics.

Authors: Stephen Thomas
November/December 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

An effective outage requires an efficient work effort, driven by a detailed work scope. Of all the different roles and efforts involved in these major events, Inspection plays a significant role in ensuring an outage’s success.

Authors: Stephen Thomas
September/October 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

The most valuable unit of measure within a turnaround is not money, but time. Successful turnaround planners are now integrating the Detailed Inspection Planner (DIP) within their teams to increase the accuracy of planning and reduce the time...

Partner Content

Contact us at to learn how DIMATE PACS digitizes NDT methods (RT, UT, VT, ...) and how it leads to paperless inspections.

March/April 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

This article demonstrates how the use of APM software can help prevent unplanned downtime by quickly identifying potential hidden failures.

March/April 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

As RBI continues to proliferate across industry, there are still those that are reluctant to transition from a time-based to risk-based inspection approach - especially in the upstream oil & gas business. These 4 benefits might help to lessen the...

January/February 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

Teams planning and executing turnarounds are obliged to not only stay within budget, but to reduce or eliminate the need to spend the contingency allowance. This article introduces a risk-based approach to help avoid squandering finances.

Authors: Mark Rigdon
September/October 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

Fired heaters are among the most critical equipment in refineries and chemical plants. This article provides an overview of what a fired heater tube mechanical integrity program should include.

September/October 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

Detailed operations planning and scheduling is an essential, yet often marginalized, element of an effective turnaround. To increase the likelihood of executing successful turnarounds, facilities should create and update sound operational shutdown...

Authors: Lee Williamson
Partner Content

Lessen downtime by enhancing your plant infrastructure, ensuring mechanical integrity, and extending equipment lifespan. Contact us for on-demand engineering expertise in assessment, problem-solving, specialized testing, and preventative solutions.

July/August 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

3 common repair scenarios include routine maintenance, scope repairs, and major discoveries. An inspector’s ability to properly manage each situation can mean the difference between mechanical integrity success and failure.

Authors: Mark Savage
July/August 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

Turnarounds operate at a different pace than routine work. Most plant-based inspection departments have historically struggled with Turnaround document control, such as integrating contractor reports into their routine data management system. Our...

Authors: Guy Bogar
January/February 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

You probably already know that inspection apps for tablets and smart phones exist, and have notions of how these technologies can improve efficiencies in the field and beyond.

November/December 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

In the previous articles, we have put all the Pre-Turnaround and actual Turnaround activities in place to get the job safely done. Now we need to find the API Inspectors and have them approved by the client as quickly as possible. I have indicated...

Authors: Kelley Jones

A unit turnaround (TAR) provides opportunities for plants to execute capital and maintenance projects, or to make tie-ins during an outage window. This downtime is costly - not just in terms of lost production while the unit is down, but in...

Partner Content

With the IMS Suite, you can calculate optimal intervention periods and lay out efficient maintenance strategies. Click here to learn more.


There is a lot of great technology currently available to us in the private sector, such as personal cell phones and telecommunication devices, including television, automobile features, e-mail, text messaging, data sharing,...

Authors: Greg Alvarado
November/December 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

One of the major challenges inspectors and plant operators face after each turnaround is to ensure that all repair and scope work is and was completed in accordance with the client’s requirements. Sometimes that verification will be to ensure work...

Authors: Scott Corey
November/December 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

The introduction of PAUT is a challenging effort initially, but can have a very positive impact on your first TAR and become a routine inspection for future TARs. When fully implemented, radiation safety boundaries can be reduced significantly or...


Now that the stage has been set (via parts 1 and 2 of this series), let’s see what we can do to improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of the work execution processes through situation awareness. Who knows? Maybe even cut a few days off the...

Authors: Greg Alvarado

This blog post is the second in a series about situation awareness (SA). The first part of this series introduced SA (defined as the gathering and utilization of data in real time and using it to improve work processes) and introduced an example of...

Authors: Greg Alvarado
Partner Content

Learn how you can safeguard integrity, reliability, instrumentation safety, and more.

July/August 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

In this issue of Inspectioneering Journal, I detail a roadmap for inspection activities during turnaround executions. This roadmap includes the critical elements of turnaround inspections, the keys to optimizing inspection activities, and the...

Authors: Scott Corey
March/April 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

Periodically, oil refinery and petrochemical plant operating companies conduct complex turnarounds for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, scheduled maintenance, facility upgrades, and code compliance. In this series of articles...

Authors: Scott Corey
Online Article

Leak related problems in bolted assemblies are an ongoing issue for virtually all facilities in the chemical, petrochemical, and refining industries. From leak detection to leak prevention, operators need knowledgeable and experienced technicians to...

Authors: Jeremiah Wooten
March/April 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Steam reformers are critical assets to many refining and chemical manufacturing plants and facilities, and it is well known that the reformer is one of the most challenging assets to maintain and operate. Common problems in reformer operations...

September/October 2012 Inspectioneering Journal

Since its inception, one of the core businesses of the MS&R (maintenance, safety and reliability) Team for Kuwait Oil Company's NK (North Kuwait) Facilities has included carrying out Preventive Maintenance (PM) activities as directed by the...

Partner Content

FER's extensive TA experience, combined with our custom software (RAMI Scope) that tracks all aspects of TA activities, we have the ability to keep your turnaround flowing flawlessly with the methodology to maximize your value of premium time.

November/December 2011 Inspectioneering Journal

In the first article entitled How to Put It All Together - Guide to Organizing a Successful PEI Program in the current series of articles that I am writing, I provided an overview of the necessary Management Systems (MS) for a successful program to...

Authors: John Reynolds
January/February 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

We have discussed most of the pre-turnaround planning details. We are ready for the next step. The cost for the Turnaround is normally the most important item right behind SAFETY. In many cases the salary, per diem and travel costs have been part of...

Authors: Kelley Jones
September/October 2002 Inspectioneering Journal

If you enter a petrochemical facility to work everyday, you realize the security issues. It is very important to have this issue resolved before the inspectors begin to arrive. The first morning of the Turnaround there are usually several thousand...

Authors: Kelley Jones
March/April 2002 Inspectioneering Journal

We all agree that safety is the most important item on any Turnaround. It is also one of the most difficult items to sort out prior to the Turnaround. The fact that API Turnaround Inspectors travel all over the country increases the need to be...

Authors: Kelley Jones
January/February 2002 Inspectioneering Journal

The second part of this article will continue to provide data regarding tasks to successfully plan for the use of API Inspectors prior to the start of the Turnaround. This article will provide information on what needs to be done to successfully...

Authors: Kelley Jones
November/December 2001 Inspectioneering Journal

The use of contractor inspectors for turnarounds has increased in recent years. Mergers with reductions in staff personnel for major oil and chemical companies have fueled this growth. Still, we hear "horror" stories about problems that occur during...

Authors: Kelley Jones
May/June 1999 Inspectioneering Journal

This three-part article describes some of the advanced on-stream inspection methods available for use in inspection of pressure equipment in the petroleum and petrochemical industry. These methods can be used, under the right circumstances, to...

May/June 1997 Inspectioneering Journal

A paper entitled, "Turnaround Scope Development Through Reliability, Availability and Maintainability Analysis," prepared by Shailendra K. Gupta and John E. Paisie, both senior reliability engineers with Sun Oil Company, Toledo, OH, USA, was...

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