Lessons Learned - The Importance of Protecting The Plan

Feb 18, 2019 11:00:53 AM

In our project/shutdown readiness checklist we listed the keys to success as “plan the details, plan the details, plan the details and protect the plan”.


Protecting the plan is simply asking what usually goes wrong with each of the tasks and either avoiding these possibilities or preparing a contingency.  You could call it a risk assessment, but we focus on removing or controlling the risk rather than trying to quantify it.


Our team have shared some examples where we have used this methodology to “protect the plan” and how it has helped us:


“Some time ago I had a project to replace the Citec control system for a small processing plant. The project was in a plant overseas and our people were not very experienced. We laid out the project tasks and then got the team together and asked for each task what could go wrong. The main risk we identified was that we would install the new control system and the plant would not operate. In order to control this risk and protect the plan, our instrumentation specialist said that he could setup the spare PLC in his office, so that after we wrote and set up the new Citec system and control process he could test every function before installing in the actual plant. This was great because it eliminated this as a risk. We did it this way and after the installation we had zero delays."

- Gerard Wood


“I ran a shutdown on a 4100XPC shovel. We identified one risk was that very often when motors are sent to vendors for repair or overhaul, they find unexpected problems that delay the return of the motor. We were sending the propel motors for overhaul so to protect the plan I had a spare propel motor on site. This proved fortunate because the vendor found one of the motors had a bent shaft and it would take a lot longer to overhaul than the original estimate. We used the previously organised spare and the schedule remained intact. My learning was that next time when I organise the spare, which was an OEM owned spare, I will also agree on the price before locating on site."

- Drew Hislop


“We had hit the point on a recent dragline shutdown where the plan was under threat due to the quantity and quality of resources. This was an ongoing issue that was not going to be effectively resolved within the window we had, and we’d reached the point where we need to do something to limit the damage to the schedule. To mitigate the impacts, we worked with the principal contractor and identified as much work as we could that we could send offsite for works to reduce the pressure on the contractor. Fortunately, we found another heavy engineering company, who were awesome, and were able to complete the required works offsite and limit the damage to the schedule. For future works, prior to execution, I would ensure that an offsite contractor is aware of the scope of works and the potential areas that they could assist with in order to ensure this risk mitigation strategy is in place to protect the plan.”

- Jon Grose


“On large Dragline, Shovel and Excavator shutdowns I have often experienced hold ups to the job during the reassembly phase due to missing reusable parts such as bolts, shim packs, spacers etc. This created not only unnecessary delays, but also lots of frustration for the team. In order to protect the plan from these delays we started a 5S style plan for the shut pad and designated laydown locations for all removed parts in a logical order. We also then set the expectations with the crews during the shift start meeting that all parts are bagged, tagged and stored in the baskets or tubs in their respective locations. The parts were then cleaned, repaired and prepared for reassembly in an organised fashion and we removed these delays. We continued to develop the methodology over several shutdowns so that it became the norm.”

- Steve Flannery


“With many of our projects, not receiving information like equipment manuals, drawings, condition monitoring reports, or performance data can lead to major delays in a project.  In a recent asset integrity review, we discussed this risk with the client before we started.  To protect the plan, we established a single point of contact with our client who would manage our requests for information with the rest of the business, which we the tracked and reported on a weekly basis.  The client also authorised our team to access their network so we could retrieve information directly.  As a result, we were able to prevent several weeks’ worth of delays in chasing missing information.”

- Matt Grant