Optimizing shutdown intervals yields significant savings

SABIC Innovative Plastic’s management realised that their shutdown strategy was incurring high costs and downtime losses, and subsequent system instabilities which was compounded by an increasingly competitive market.
Route to 4-year turnaround interval identified & justified (200% turnaround interval improvement)
Net Sabic Bergen op Zoom benefits calculated as a direct cost saving of $USD 11.4M
Up to an additional $USD 42.3M savings in production output efficiencies
Contract Objectives

SABIC Innovative Plastics (SABIC IP) is part of the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation and has four polycarbonate production facilities in Europe and the USA. Each site had a scheduled annual or bi-annual shut down for inspections, maintenance and engineering projects. Following a review of possible processes and available tools, the management team decided to partner with The Woodhouse Partnership to carry out a Shutdown Optimisation Project across the four sites, with the first site being Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands. The project received senior management support with the goal to significantly reduce costs and improve performance.

Activity Description

Woodhouse deployed the ‘Criticality Method calibration’ to assess the impact and potential urgency of each task that appeared to require a shutdown of the plant. These were then challenged and filtered down to a list of truly shutdown-dependent activities, each was evaluated individually, and then collectively, using DST™ software tools for optimal timing and ‘bundling’.

The first step in the process was to select, from the entire workload, only those tasks which truly drive the requirement to shut down the plant. This was achieved through a series of screening and filtering processes. The selective filters ranged from simple rule-based screening to assessment and challenge by multidisciplinary teams. From a total of 24,260 tasks, 7,875 were listed as ‘shutdown dependent’ yet only 86 were actually found to be truly shutdown dependent.

Following the individual task analysis, many revealed optimal intervals equal to, or greater than a 4 year ‘ideal target’ interval. Others, however, showed optimal intervals which were less than 4 years – representing ‘bottlenecks’ to the achievement of longer shutdown intervals. The next step was to assess the best way of combining tasks with different optimal intervals into the ‘least compromise’ groupings and shared timings.




DST™ SCHEDULE software tool  was employed. This module explores the effects of moving individual tasks away from their optima to share downtime or other bundling advantages with other tasks. SCHEDULE does this in “real-time” in just a few minutes by utilizing a self-learning “genetic algorithm”; normal simulation techniques would take around 4 weeks to ‘solve’ the optimal scheduling of just 10 tasks. There were 32 cost/risk and timing-sensitive tasks carried forward to this ‘optimal bundling and scheduling’ stage.




The results show that there were a number of tasks that still required and justified a frequent (annual or biannual) shutdown. The next step was therefore to “de-bottleneck” or remove the requirement for these high-frequency shutdown-dependent tasks. Having identified the de-bottlenecking tasks and removed them from the task list, the SCHEDULE analysis was re-calculated.

Contract Project Outcomes

The project revealed that the optimum shutdown interval is now 4 years. The DST™ SCHEDULE outputs included a full NPV calculation of the costs, risks and production impact of this program (and any alternative). The full impact of the changes was directly quantifiable – and represented 7- figure annualized net benefits. With the sensitivity testing already built-in, and full drill-down clarity regarding the urgency and justification for each shutdown, SABIC  senior management was able to commit to the revised plan very rapidly; all de-bottlenecking actions were approved and underway within 2 months of the study.

The Bergen op Zoom site implemented a new, 4-yearly shutdown cycle which, when left unchallenged, shutdowns and their intervals become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where this is the case, the organization’s business processes have evolved in order to support the pattern, concentrating on efficient delivery of the work rather than challenging its need and timing.

Challenging the shutdown dependency of any task is essential, but can only be successfully done by competent multidisciplinary teams and full cost/risk appraisal, with appropriate decision support tools and robust methods for coping with the inevitable uncertainties and poor information. As with all change programs the participation of all stakeholders was crucial. In particular, the safety-critical areas of inspection and Process Safety Management (PSM) were vital participants in the study. The structured range estimating and sensitivity analysis techniques were also major factors in obtaining the confidence and credibility of the analysis results.

Net Sabic Bergen op Zoom benefits are calculated as

  • as $USD 11.4M indirect cost savings alone with an additional $USD 24M to 42.3M in production output efficiencies (at 40%-100% production rates)
  • requires only small plant changes & spares purchasing

12 actions were required with total c.€ 250k investment (NB 5 actions have minimal/no cost at all)

  • Very many tasks were eliminated from the TAR scope (e.g. 22% in Chlorine unit)
  • Continuous Turnaround Optimization process established with DST Tools embedded in Operational Excellence process steps.

Learning points – human factors & resourcing

  • Stop the legacy culture of automatically assigning tasks to next turnaround
  • New planning process required to take advantage of unexpected shutdowns
  • Changed daily/online inspections & maintenance manhours
  • Attitude change triggered by asking the right questions
    • Turnaround optimization is not a 1-off exercise: it initiates, then becomes part of, the continuous Operational Maintenance process

Additional Benefits

  • Opportunities to improve work effectiveness identified
  • CMMS (Asset Maintenance) task lists identified as needing serious review
  • A structured review of underlying degradation problems triggers lateral thinking solutions (e.g. avoiding Turnaround tasks)

The Woodhouse Partnership would be delighted to show you how the SALVO process and Decision Support Tools™ can be implemented to benefit your business, contact us now for a free initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.


“In the area of turnaround management optimization and aged assets assessment, The Woodhouse Partnership has been of tremendous help to move from qualitative, emotional and subjective statements, to solid analysis using a mix of real data and tacit knowledge, to support our asset strategy decisions.”

John Bruijnooge,
Former Director Technical Services, SABIC

Back to Case Studies

More To Explore

Susan Steyn

Susan Steyn is a seasoned expert with over 30 years of experience in Management, Operations, Business Development, and Supply Chain across diverse industries. Her core focus lies in spare parts management and inventory optimization. Throughout her career, Susan has held key leadership roles in multinational companies such as GE, Dow, Roche, Bayer, Lloyds Register, and Woodhouse Partnership.

With a strong background in strategic leadership, P&L management, and lean manufacturing, Susan has consistently driven business turnarounds and growth. She excels in international global business management and has a proven track record of expanding market presence and building strong client relationships.

As a Six Sigma Black Belt and PMP certified professional, Susan is adept at implementing process improvements and managing complex projects. Her expertise in data analysis, project management, and ERP systems ensures effective spare part management and optimal inventory levels.

Susan’s contributions to various companies include revenue growth, cost reduction, successful software launches, and the establishment of strategic alliances. Her commitment to diversity and inclusion, coupled with her leadership in team building and mentorship, have created a culture of excellence in every organization she has worked with.

Overall, Susan Steyn is a results-oriented leader with a passion for leveraging data-driven decision-making and innovative strategies to optimize spare parts management, reduce downtime risks, and enhance profitability in any business environment.

José Luis Perdomo R

José Luis cuenta con una experiencia exitosa en multi-industrias públicas y privadas, donde desempeñó cargos gerenciales, líder de aplicación técnica especializada, puestos operativos y en mantenimiento, así como en áreas de consultoría sustentando nivel operativo, táctico y estratégico.

Ha formado parte de proyectos de mejoramiento de gestión de activos, confiabilidad operacional, integridad y mantenimiento en Latinoamérica en diferentes empresas creando valor al negocio con resultados técnicos y económicos importantes.

Facilitador e instructor acreditado en temas relacionados con la gestión de activos, mejores prácticas, metodologías de administración gerencial y técnicas especializadas.

Robinson Medina

Mechanical Engineer with 31 years of experience. Specialist in implementation processes of activities
associated with Asset Management under the ISO 55001 approach, Implementation of diagnostic
programs and audits of management systems, Specialist in applying reliability methodologies such as
Reliability-Centered Maintenance, risk-based inspection, Cause Analysis Root, Life Cycle Cost Analysis,
Condition Based Maintenance, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, Mechanical Integrity among others.
He has been an Equipment Mechanical Integrity Engineer, an experienced user of traditional NonDestructive Testing such as Ultrasound, Infrared Thermography, Superficial Techniques, Industrial
He has led and participated in countless applications in the field of reliability and condition monitoring,
with special emphasis on the generation and execution of policies and maintenance plans aimed at
achieving the “minimum total business impact” guaranteeing Safety, Hygiene and Environment

Damien Carter

Over his 28 plus year span in the industrial sectors with working technical backgrounds in Project & Construction Management, Asset Operations and Maintenance Reliability Management, and being certified in various courses of study; Damien has gained the knowledge and experience and has had proven successes throughout his tenure in the Oil, Gas, Petro-Chemical and Construction sectors. Establishing his-self in the various sectors, Damien’s first experience and success started in the Construction Sector in estimating engineering. This was the stepping stone for Damien and has paved the way for his passion and continued success in supporting People, Process, and Systems in an organization.

Damien has held positions in local, international and multi-national corporations and comes from a working background in the fields of environmental, operations, project and construction management, operations maintenance and reliability management, planning, supervisory management, and has proven his abilities to succeed in each field.

Richard Ardolino

Rich was an Engineer and Project Manager professional at the New York Power Authority for over 30-years. In addition to being the first Project Manager for the Niagara Project Upgrade, Rich rose to be the Vice President of Engineering having started in Operations Engineering decades earlier. Rich went on to be Vice President, Transmission and Substation at AECOM responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in design and construction. Rich joined Woodhouse Partnership, North America and participates in aligning organization towards ISO 55000 and many reliability studies supporting DST.

Aleck Santamaría De La Cruz

Executive in Operational Excellence, Asset Management and Best Practices in Projects, Operations and Maintenance in the Energy and Industrial Sector.
Consultant, Instructor and International Lecturer on issues related to project management (risk management), operational reliability, strategic management of operations, maintenance, Asset Management in the energy sector (ISO 55001) and Applied Data Analytics.
PMP, CMRP, IAM and CAMA certifications, being recognized by the SMRP in 2019 as CMRP of the Year https://smrp.org/2019-CMRP-Winners.

George Galambos

George has over twenty-five years of experience as a consulting engineer providing design, planning, program and project management, and strategic asset management services for asset-intensive organizations in the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. His primary focus has been in the public infrastructure sector; as a result, he has intimate knowledge of the assets, processes, and resources necessary to deliver and sustain safe, reliable services to the customers of public asset-owning organizations.

George has assisted organizations with the development of PAS 55, ISO 55000, and GFMAM AM Landscape aligned asset management systems (AMS), has performed gap analyses of their AMS against industry standards and best practices, and has guided them through the creation of strategic asset management plans (SAMPs), asset management plans (AMPs), AM policy and supporting documents. He has undertaken asset risk modelling to ascertain organizations’ capability to sustain their desired levels of service. George has performed asset health-informed lifecycle cost modelling and forecasting capital and operational expenditures over near and long-term planning horizons.

John Woodhouse

With 30 years’ experience in utilities, oil & gas, transport and other sectors, John is one of the most widely known experts in integrated asset management projects for some of the largest companies in the world.

John is a Founder and Life Fellow of the IAM; he has written 4 books, chaired the development of BSI PAS55 and represents the UK on the ISO55000 committee.

He also led the international MACRO and SALVO collaboration projects in optimised asset management decision-making.

Skip to content