Planned Shutdowns: A Science and An Art

The Safety Valve Maintenance team at one of the east coast’s largest natural gas and electric utilities has been working with the Atlantic Valve Services (AVS) team, consisting, of four technicians for almost ten years. Over that time, the client has adopted and streamlined how they handle their maintenance for over 200 safety valves at their primary location, using best practices in the industry, as well as lessons learned from a well-honed team. One of their standard practices involves planning prior to a shutdown, as well as discussions post-shutdown. They admit that not many organizations take the time to evaluate lessons learned, but to them, it’s been worth it—in fact, by collaborating and improving, they’ve been able to reduce pre-event planning from 3 weeks to 3 days!

Atlantic Valve Services’ onsite trailer serves as the central point of the operations. The AVS team pulls the valves, and performs the testing, repairs, and maintenance according to the plan and procedures developed by the client team. The shutdowns take place twice a year—in the spring and fall—those being the most convenient times. According to the teams, they’ve learned much from each other and continue to improve. Improvements in their procedures include color-code labeling, the AVS onsite trailer, adding isolation valves in key locations, having spares for all of the critical tank top valves to rotate usage and protect their assets.

“We consider ourselves to be a learning organization and a single team—continually improving our shutdown procedures and implementing new processes that contribute to efficiencies and safety.”

—Director of Maintenance