To schedule startup of a process unit after a major shutdown requires careful planning. Equipment has been opened and modified. New units may have been added to provide additional capacity or to reduce energy consumption or to increase yield or product quality. Each of these changes must be treated as a potential problem at startup until verified otherwise.
Startups after a major and prolonged shutdown have the potential for causing major problems. At this point in time maintenance and shutdown personnel are tired and ready to be finished with the work. Delay in the schedule startup may have increased the pressure to get the process unit up and running as quickly as possible. Production personnel are anxious to get started. The tendency is to take shortcuts that can have disastrous results if management is lax in demanding that all procedures be carefully followed.
In simple terms before a schedule startup of a revised and upgraded unit one must ask a number of questions that must be answered in the affirmative. Some of them include:
- Has all of the work been completed?
- Has the work been completed according to the original design? If not, then is change of design documentation available for review?
- Has the work been inspected?
- Have relevant tests been conducted on the process equipment?
- Has the documentation and instructions for new equipment been prepared?
- Have the operators and mechanics been trained on any new equipment that has been added to the process?
- Has the instrumentation been checked?
- Are the process analyzers working correctly?
- Have control valves been stroked?
- Have the electrical systems been tested and inspected?
- Have all pressure tests and leak tests been completed?
- Has the piping been connected, inspected and blanks removed?
- Have relief valve installations been inspected and any blanks removed?
- Has all scrap been removed from the area?
- Is area housekeeping in good order?
- Has startup documentation been prepared for the operators?
- Have upstream and downstream process unit managers been notified of the startup?
- Have the electrical, steam, and cooling water utility managers been notified of the pending startup?
- Has a pre-startup safety review (PSSR) been conducted?
Where these questions should be asked and answered is in the pre-startup safety review. The committee conducting the review is not responsible for conducting the work. They are responsible for verifying that the work has been performed and completed in a safe and satisfactory manner and that these and other questions be answered in the affirmative.
Process Technical Services conducts seminars on how to prepare for and conduct the startup of a newly constructed plant. Many of those elements also apply to startup of facilities after major maintenance work has been performed. Process Technical Services’ skilled and knowledgeable personnel can help schedule startup of most processes.