When it comes to large-scale turnarounds, precision counts, and any unexpected delays due to lackluster execution can be costly. When a business shuts down key parts of its operation to revamp processes and improve functionality, getting the manufacturing facility back up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible is essential.
Procore recently hosted a webinar discussion featuring Procore customers that are well familiar with the risks and challenges associated with turnarounds. The webinar entitled, Managing Turnarounds with Procore, was hosted by Alex Caya, Product & Solution Marketing Manager for Procore. The customer roundtable included Stephanie King, Business Process Improvement Leader, Koch Ag & Energy Solutions; Michael Glenn, Associate Director Engineering, Tyson Foods; and Fabio Tobon, Sr. Business Systems Support Analyst, Flint Hills Resources.
Moving Away From Slow Manual Processes
Orchestrating a successful turnaround requires high levels of collaboration, so it’s critical that the flow of information between office and jobsite is as efficient as possible. In the past, turnaround information was typically provided to the field via files on a server, and updates were relayed back from the field using pen and paper. This often caused inefficiencies, and frequent instances of workers relying on outdated information because it was so fragmented between various paper notes or static computer files.
Before using Procore, Stephanie King said, her team at Koch AG relied heavily on manual processes.
“We used to use paper. A lot of paper. We had uncontrolled copies, things that could be lost easily. You’re out in the elements, you had to manually check back in at the end of a shift, turn that package in and give it to somebody else so they could have it, maybe it’s legible, maybe it’s not. Then someone had to validate that everything was signed off that matched up with our schedule,” she said.
Flint Hills Resources’ Fabio Tobon echoed King’s characterization of life before Procore.
“From an information management standpoint, it was paper-based, highly dependent on people, hand-offs, and face-to-face meetings.”
Some companies attempt to address these issues via custom solutions. While Tobon agrees that sometimes custom solutions are necessary, he encourages companies to think about the costs of scaling custom solutions.
“If there’s a niche requirement that we just can’t capture , then yea, maybe [a custom solution] might make sense. But one thing we challenge is ‘why not leverage a SaaS solution?’ Because when you leverage an application enterprise-wide, you think about support. What if that team shifts, or that one person with all the knowledge on how that’s configured gets another job at another company? What would the support costs look like? Whereas Procore is very easy as far as updates and things of that nature.”
Ease of Use and Mobile-Friendly
Before deciding on a platform like Procore, most companies usually have a “lightbulb moment” where its ability to improve processes becomes crystal clear.
“I think one of the biggest key things was we wanted to partner up with a software company that was mobile-first, and a mobile platform that we can definitely leverage and put in the hands of our contractors to perform the work,” said Tobon.
“It also had to be user-friendly: Can they configure it? Can they build out forms? If they need to make any changes in the field, can they do that? Having that shorter learning curve empowers our contractors to help fill out those forms. It’s really about quick user adoption, the quicker they learn these tools, the easier it is for people to adopt it and actually start performing work on it.”
King agreed that Procore’s user-friendliness was a key early selling point, sharing an analogy she often uses to explain how easy Procore is to pick up and use.
“If you can log onto an airline app, change your seat, or see what gate you’re going to land at, you can use Procore.”
Tyson’s Michael Glenn said he especially appreciates how Procore brings all important project information under one easily-accessible platform.
“It puts all of this information right at your fingertips from anywhere on the jobsite. You can pull up your drawings or photos, mark important things, and send them to an engineer.”
Procore’s Best Features for Turnaround Projects
The larger a turnaround project, the more complexity it involves. For an energy refining and manufacturing company like Flint Hills Resources, turnarounds can involve thousands of weld logs and inspections.
“We have a method using the open API architecture to load mass inspection templates through a CSV file and replicate inspection forms in Procore. We then pipe it out to our mobile devices where they can track progress on wells in the field in real time. This really helps reduce paperwork and saves multiple steps,” Tobon said.
King seconded Procore’s API and inspection functionality as a big time-saver on complex turnarounds.
“We’ve even used APIs to generate thousands of inspections at various locations so you don’t have to go in and generate those in the front end, which is easy enough to do, but when you’re doing thousands of anything it’s nice to do it in a mass fashion,” she said. “And for the users in the field, it’s as easy as clicking a red or green button, and then we can get the results out of th backend.”
As far as the demonstrable impact Procore has had on their companies, getting a handle on the endless flow of paper documents has also improved processes by enhancing communication.
“It’s about having access to the best information at the best time in everybody’s hands,” King said.
“So if you realize you had a bad spec on a document instead of calling over the radio, tracking it down and wondering where the printouts are, somebody just drops it in the folder, takes the old one out, and everybody has the latest and greatest.”
Glenn pointed to better tracking, which added transparency and reduced miscommunication.
“In the FTP server world, you upload a bunch of stuff for contractors to bid on and never really know who accessed it or if they actually got everything. Procore documents and timestamps every logon for each project.”
He continued, “it’s real time information at your fingertips. A vice president can come in and see all of the photos and documents about an outage or as much real time information as they want. It’s been invaluable for executive levels of the company to get updates.”
And Tobon stressed the benefits of leveraging Procore’s consolidated, extensible data platform to connect and report on business-critical data.
“From an IT perspective, it’s a multi-tenant SaaS. This allows for easy integrations to Procore’s open API platform. That provides us that gateway to integrate Procore data with our existing internal apps and systems, so we have capability with data and data analytics. We’re pulling reports for our business, to enable them to get quicker responses, and understand how we’re doing in the field.”
Every Project Gets Better with Procore
King pointed out how Procore’s value was even obvious to contractors, who aren’t always known for their warm embrace of new technology.
“We didn’t have a lot of barriers. A lot of our contractors were agreeing that this is the direction they need to go and if they don’t adopt they’re not going to be in business much longer, so they were very in favor of using it.”
“Like anything some people are early adopters and some people drag their feet, but by the end people know this is how we do it at this facility when we come here, so it’s been a good change,” she added.
Glenn said not only have Tyson Foods’ contractors gotten enthusiastically on board, they’ve even started using it themselves.
“We actually have [a contractor] that implemented Procore themselves in the last month and they’re using it for time-keeping and various other things. It gets easier the more projects they do with us; we’re 18 months into using Procore and every project seems to be getting better,” he said.
When asked why, he answered “Procore saved me time from what I used to do; time is money, and there are things that are just done more quickly than they used to be.”
King acknowledged some people in the trades have had negative experiences with other platforms that turned them off to the idea, but says Procore is different, and urges others to see for themselves.
“I think people have preconceived notions of what a system is like. ‘I’m going to have to go to all this training, and I’m going to have to become an expert, and I’m going to have to click seven times to find anything.’ What we say is, just use it. Don’t print out any paper today, and just try it for one afternoon. By the end of that, people are usually on board.”