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Back to basics:
Edwin van Doeselaar on developments in turnaround management 


“It is a simple tool that creates more ownership among  
the specialists on the floor.” 


Edwin van Doeselaar, Chief technology Officer

What are the important developments in turnaround management in the year 2021? Edwin van Doeselaar, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Advando, shares his view on the matter. About thinking ahead, dealing with complexity, and a small intervention with big impact. 

Edwin has over 20 years of experience as a Planning & Scheduling Specialist for large turnarounds. He likes to share his knowledge with clients who are on their way to zero delay. He also talks about it as a speaker at conferences. “I do this mainly because there is much to gain for our entire profession,” says Edwin. 

The problem of turnaround management  

“Time and again, turnarounds are delayed unnecessarily. Many companies know it has to be done differently,” he says. “They are also looking at how others are doing it. That is a good thing: the willingness to improve is there. They are looking for solutions to help them do that.” 
 
“The difficult thing is that a turnaround only happens once every few years - and is managed by different people each time. When you’re in the middle of it, and there is a delay, you want to make improvements. But afterwards, that sense of urgency ebbs away because it is not a continuous process. The core business demands all your attention again. You only think about it again when it is time for the next turnaround in a few years. Chances are that it will be just as inefficient. Lessons learned are rarely included. That would make a big difference.” 

 

Back to the drawing board 

“They realise that turnarounds were still reasonably successful 20 to 25 years ago. Targets were then met more often than now. It is also understandable: the projects have become more complex due to the arrival of new laws and regulations. But then you have to go back to the drawing board instead of only fighting the symptoms. Then you get a proliferation of measures that do not make the project more efficient.” 

“When it comes to planning, for a long time it was thought: the more it says, the better we can control it. That turned out not to be the case. You were not in control. Many companies then made schedules with even more detail. Instead of ten thousand activities, there were twenty thousand, down to the level of nuts and bolts. But that doesn’t help either. So how do you get back to basics? By planning in outline what needs to be done. The people in the field know better than anyone how that planning should specifically be carried out.” 

Visualising the planning 

For years, Edwin worked for a large project management agency. The idea to start his own business arose when he envisaged software that would support turnarounds. “A tool that would offer added value in the process of a turnaround, that would make the connection between turnaround management and the specialists who take care of the execution. Built from the desired result: what does the customer want to achieve?” 

That’s why Edwin founded Advando in 2011. The software gradually evolved until, in 2019 TACS was a reality. “TACS stands for Turn Around Control System. It works very simply on touchscreens that are placed in different areas in a factory, for example. On the screen, you see the planning and the progress. That gives focus. The user-friendliness makes it very accessible. Subconsciously, that makes a big difference in the work.”

How? “The specialists working on the turnaround become more involved. That is very important. People are at the controls themselves. The work they do today, the work they will do tomorrow, they are in control of that. They are not forced to change: they change themselves. 

Increase ownership, reduce costs 
With TACS, Edwin wants to make asset owners aware that a small change in their process increases the chance of success enormously. “The intervention is minimal, but the impact is huge. In the past, the contractor in charge was in the driver’s seat. A huge pile of paper was brought to the floor. Of course, it wasn’t read thoroughly; it was thrown away. By using this tool, you make it easier to create clarity for everyone.” 

“There are many software packages with so many functionalities that as a user you can’t see the forest for the trees. We find it important that our solution is fit-for-purpose, and therefore directly connects to the work that has to be done. TACS is a simple tool that creates more ownership with the users. And this increases the chance of success. By success, I mean the realisation of the planning and also the reduction of costs.” 

Added value 
“What I want to pass on in any case: think ahead at the asset level and the project level. Don’t get stuck on what went wrong yesterday, but look at what that means for what we will do tomorrow. Make sure that the next turnaround does not take too long again. Go back to the basics, make an outline planning. Take into account what you learned in the last turnaround. And make the planning and progress visual in the factory.” 

“These are straightforward steps,” concludes Edwin. “But this immediately gives you great added value. That’s great, isn’t it?”