There is nothing more key to a successful turnaround than the planning and development of the schedule. A detailed schedule with clearly identified milestones, that are fully understood by all members of the turnaround team, is the first step in achieving success.

Clear communication among team members during this planning process keeps details from being overlooked and assures that all the team members understand where they fit into each step in the plan. As milestones are created, the importance of compliance to these milestones on the timeline must be stressed and the negative impact of noncompliance assessed and documented.

Because of this, DMS has always participated as an active team member in the planning and schedule creation for planned turnarounds. Each plant is unique, and creating a schedule that is specific to the equipment, layout and turnaround teams involved, takes a coordinated effort. A detailed schedule with realistic milestones has an impact on much more than the the timeline. A properly planned turnaround schedule will also keep costs under control and maintain safety standards, which is always a top priority for DMS.

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As a COR certified contractor, DMS takes safety management seriously. Our safety program is our top priority, because the human cost of worksite safety issues is incalculable, in our mind.

Creating a safety program for your company is only the beginning of successfully managing job site safety. Just like the management of a successful STO plan, steps needed to be taken to implement the plan and measure the effectiveness of that plan.

Training and education, regarding safe work practices, has been the first step in the implementation of our safety program. The second step, that goes hand-in-hand with this first step, is the provision of personal protection equipment and the required use of that equipment. Keeping emergency safety and first aid supplies and equipment up to date and accessible is another important part of carrying out our safety program.

Preventative maintenance and safety inspections are scheduled to make sure that working conditions that were safe, remain safe. When an accident or injury does occur, an investigation of the incident is required so that we can learn the cause and improve our preventative measures. Again, just as with the management of a STO plan, careful record keeping is done, so that we can evaluate our safety performance and continue to improve upon our methods.

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Any company can proclaim a commitment to providing a safe work environment for their employees and contractors. At DMS, we put verifiable actions behind our words. Our participation in COR and ISNetworld are two of the ways that we demonstrate the strength of our commitment to safety.

Through ISN, our company safety policies and reporting are kept up to date and available for review by our clients. In addition to the online database, ISN’s Review and Verification Services provide expert evaluation of our company’s health and safety records to verify their accuracy and validity. The health and safety records of our company are something we are proud of. We don’t hesitate to make them available for review through ISNetwork.

The Construction Safety Association of Manitoba (CSAM) provides oversight to the Certificate of Recognition program or COR. DMS has fulfilled all the requirements to receive and maintain their COR Certificate and Letter of Good Standing. This achievement requires ongoing audits of our safety program. These audits assure that the program we have outlined in our safety manual is also being implemented and enforced. For a full review of what it means to be COR Certified, you can visit their website at

Safety isn’t just something we talk about at DMS; it is a big part of who we are.

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During the planning stages to a turnaround, the anticipated maintenance issues must be calculated. It is this ‘turnaround list’ that drives the creation of the timeline, the manpower estimates and the cost estimates. Because of this, it is a critical component to the success of any turnaround.

A turnaround list generally begins with a plant’s maintenance manager. The maintenance manager compiles a list of equipment that is known to be damaged or operating poorly. These are known items that must be included in the turnaround schedule and planning. Many turnaround lists are then completed by estimating the additional items that will be discovered and requiring maintenance. This is best done by basing the estimate off previous turnaround experience (which shows the importance of maintaining a turnaround database log). The other method used is simply creating estimates based off industry averages. Although both these methods are acceptable, any pre-testing that can be done to add to the list of known items, prior to completing the estimated turnaround list, can be very helpful in creating a more accurate list. Of course, the more accurate the list, the more accurate your overall turnaround plan and cost estimate will be.

Your mechanical contractor can be a valuable asset in assisting in any pre-testing that can be done to create the most accurate turnaround list possible. Delays and costly overruns due to underestimating your turnaround list can be minimized by starting with the most accurate information obtainable.

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Integrated Project Delivery or IPD is all about improving the overall efficiency of an entire project. The concept involves developing a leadership team during the initial planning stages of a project that involve all the major entities involved in the project, the owners, engineers, architect, contractor and major subcontractors or suppliers.

Instead of each party being strictly focused on their own aspect of the project, the team is able to see how all the pieces of the project need to work together. This way logistical problems can be solved on the drawing board, before they ever happen, instead of in the midst of production.

With all the major parties taking part in developing the project schedule and project budgeting, change orders, which create time and cost overruns, can be minimized. Input and communication during the initial planning stages of a project, by all the major parties involved on a project, means that the project schedule will have a higher level of accuracy when the project begins. This enables every phase to run smoother, and the smoother a project runs the less wasted time is incurred due to unexpected hurdles that need to be overcome.

DMS has seen the great advantage of IPD relationships and is ready to step into position as a team player during the planning stages of all its projects.

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At DMS Mechanical, we have learned key ways to ensure a successful shut down, turnaround or planned outage.  Watch our new video to find out our best tips and practices.

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Operational shutdowns, turnarounds and outages (STO’s) can make a big impact, positively or negatively, on a business’ overall financial performance. Unlike many other projects, STO’s involve both planned and unplanned activities. Incorporating these unplanned activities efficiently into the schedule and scope of the STO is critical to meeting cost estimates and milestones in the timeline. That’s why having a strong, experienced STO manager can make all the difference.

Strong decision making abilities and quick troubleshooting skills are a basic requirement for an STO manager. Each new discovery requires immediate calculation of its effect on the timeline and cost estimate, in addition to communicating the additional work order to the work teams and suppliers related to its execution.

With employee turnover, even in leadership positions, a plant will not always have managers that have participated in their previous STO’s. That’s where the experience of an STO manager, like DMS, can be very helpful. In addition, we bring with us the knowledge and experience we’ve gained from many different sites, a broader base of experience than even your tenured employees will have. Broad experience and a broad perspective of the scope involved in the STO means a strong manager for this critical process in your business.

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The complete Quality Statement of DMS can be read on our website, but in summary, every employee in our company is a part of and supports our quality control program, which is just as much about ‘improving’ our quality of workmanship, as it is about maintaining our current high standard.

There is not a single part of our company operations that is not affected by our commitment to quality assurance, and that includes our STO management services. We are committed to maintaining our service quality in an economical and expeditious manner with an emphasis on meeting or exceeding our client’s expectation. At DMS, we understand that quality workmanship is not in contrast to providing value-added work to our clients, we can, and are committed to, providing both.

Two key ingredients in our quality assurance program are ongoing training and open communication with all our employees, in areas of product improvement and performance integrity. This includes everyone from the top management on down. Communication is also a key ingredient in STO management; it is part of what makes DMS so effective in this area of our services.

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At DMS, we have learned that there are several key components that are included in every successful shutdown, turnaround or planned outage. We’ve outlined them here in a list of ‘best practices’.

  • Long-term planning – A comprehensive turnaround schedule should be in place for at least a five year period. This prevents lag time in the turnaround planning and integrates the scheduled turnaround into a company’s ongoing processes.
  • Core team development – Along with the individual teams created to develop the turnaround schedule and plan, a lead team that has over-sight is critical to maintaining focus and holding individual teams accountable to the objectives set by plant leadership in all areas. The members of this team should include representatives from the mechanical contractor, as well as in-house leadership.
  • Plan development – The core team, with the help of its sub-teams, develop the timeline estimate with milestones, beginning with pre-turnaround milestones. A preliminary cost estimate, man-power requirements and an organizational structure should be developed. A cost tracking and reporting process needs to be developed and an audit schedule for measuring progress. Hazardous operations should be identified and safety requirements established.
  • Pre-turnaround – This stage is just as critical to success as the planning. Orientation of the maintenance contractor and training of the execution team takes place. The safety plan is implemented, material procurement takes place, temporary connections and offices are prepared, pre-fabrication and other pre-shutdown work is begun.
  • Execution and Post-turnaround – Implementation of the plan is carried out and audit reporting done during the execution phase. Following the turnaround, demobilization and a turnaround review process should be planned for and followed through. This allows for assessment of lessons learned and recommendations for future turnarounds.
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We recently had the pleasure of having our beautiful office space photographed by the talented Pauline Boldt.

Her work can be viewed at

DMS - Brad Mason

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