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One Vital Plant Shutdown Lessons

We just completed our 7 days plant shutdown and it left me with a mixed feeling. In my earlier entry, "Interrupted Planning", I highlighted about how the plant shutdown suddenly took place and it had interrupted not only my plans but also others.

I bet a lot of you may have enjoyed your Labour Day break last Thursday. Before this, I really look forward for it. Luckily I haven't plan anything special or big during that public holiday. Whenever the plant shutdown was instructed to be conducted, I already knew that I'm going to be in trouble. I had already approved annual leaves for 3 of my downline staffs (2 supervisors and 1 shift leaders). They have taken leave for 4 straight days from Thursday (the Labour day) till Sunday. It's difficult for me to asked them to cancel their annual leaves because they have planned the leaves 3 or 4 weeks ago, applied the leaves and I have approved it.

The problem does not happen just in my area... The maintenance department, who plays some significant role in our shutdown also have some manpower shortage with similar reason.

So, we have to arrange our limited manpower accordingly to do all the routine and special jobs for the annual shutdown. To make things worst, another 2 of my manpowers (1 my senior supervisor and 1 operator) were sick and unfit to work. The senior supervisor had a kidney stone while my plant operator had a high blood pressure up to 170. As a result, the amount of manpower I had was slashed down again.

It was a really serious challenge for me. I'm having a shutdown but I don't have my key people to assist me. As a result, I have to make myself an engineer cum supervisor. I walked around the plant, checked and assisted all work. I managed our contract worker manpower as well. I cannot imagine what's going to happen to all those work if I wasn't there to coordinate and monitor the jobs. I personally did some of the shutdown work such as filling up the high pressure boiler with deionized water, working on those flanges to dismantle or tightened the nut and bolts etc. I became a physical hands on person...

It was a very expansive lesson for me. Next time, I cannot simply approve annual leaves for my downline staffs. They can take leave, but when ever there are very important job like a shutdown, they need to sacrifice their leaves. I'll share some of the valuable experiences during my shutdown later.
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posted by Kipas Repair JB @ 4:17 PM,


At Tuesday, May 06, 2008, Blogger Chris @ Flipping A Dollar said...

Do you have a union at your facility? I work in the US and my site has a pretty strong union. There is no way that anyone would work during their scheduled vacation. They are very unsympathetic.

At Tuesday, May 06, 2008, Blogger Kipas Repair JB said...

From what I heard, there used to be a union. However, the company management/administration is more powerful than the union. The union leader was asked to transfer if they want to raise their point or fight for something. As a result, the leader step down, and soon after that, the union diminished.

Some other neighboring refineries/plants have their union and they are powerful. They can fight for their workers/members.

I hope my workplace can have a strong union like that.


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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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