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Cutting Equipment Costs During Plant Turnarounds

Tracking overruns and their sources in real time can protect turnaround budgets.

Plant turnaround managers know how important it is to meet their budgets. Stay on or under budget and earn the bosses’ approval and maybe a bonus. Exceed the budget and suffer the consequences.

Equipment rentals make up a significant portion of a turnaround’s costs, and they can be a significant source of cost overruns as well. If subcontractors keep the equipment longer than planned, the budget starts going out of bounds.

Project managers typically have no good way of checking the status of the rental equipment and/or their rental budgets until the project is over. Only at that point do they discover that their equipment budget was blown — and even then, they can’t easily determine why.

An equipment management platform such as United Rentals’ Total Control® changes that equation, giving plant turnaround managers the information they need — in real time — to uncover any discrepancies between budgeted and actual costs.

“With Total Control®, we can give managers a view of their shutdown as a financial statement,” explained James Bradford, regional product development manager with United Rentals’ Power and Custom Cooling Solutions division. “At any time during the turnaround, we can provide them with the actual costs of the equipment rental to date and a projected forecast of the total equipment costs based on the rental start and stop dates in our system.”

Managers can look for exceptions (delays) in planned equipment return dates and then quickly identify which subcontractors are responsible for overruns.

Bradford gave an example of a sub who had trouble getting enough workers and therefore ran late on their work. As a result, they kept rented generators for two additional weeks. The plant turnaround manager found this exception in a weekly Total Control® report. Armed with this information, he determined that the subcontractor, and not the plant, should pay for the additional rental time. That put the turnaround back on budget.

Total Control® also makes it easier to develop a budget during turnaround planning.

“If they give us a list of all the equipment they’ll need, we can enter it into the Total Control® system and provide them with an equipment budget for their turnaround. As the turnaround progresses, we can print for them, every day or every week, the actuals of what’s being spent,” Bradford added.

For assistance with planning your next turnaround, contact your local United Rentals branch.

Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.

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