News & Insights

Digital Workplace Enables Real Results in Virtual Planning Teams

Oct 07, 2020

Looking back to 2019, it seems a distant memory when in-person planning, schedule alignment and optimization sessions were a common best-practice for turnaround and project planning teams. Today, we are again back at it!

Across continents, clients, and facilities, we are again helping teams through physically distant, remote and hybrid-remote planning and optimization sessions. As you’ll see, results are consistently impressive, proving that it’s not only having a virtual platform like Zoom, Teams and a whiteboard tool, it’s having an effective facilitation method driven by skilled and experienced coaches that drives results.


Our traditional in-person schedule optimization session, here shown physically distanced with enlarged visuals, have now moved fully online using technology platforms such as Teams/Zoom/Skype in conjunction with Digital Workplace tools like iObeya, together with effective facilitation.

Case Example 1:  A Major Refinery in Southeast Asia

Facing a major column overhaul during the upcoming 2021 turnaround and with most of the planning team working remotely, this TAR planning team was concerned. Our team brought a remote facilitation to conduct the practice of schedule quality review. In a single session the team identified 131 actions, 26 risks and 20 opportunities with a preliminary savings of 28 hours over the first 5 days of the schedule (this was a 23% reduction). The client estimates $1.3 million in savings will result from this work, plus a much-improved risk profile from greater awareness and mitigating actions.

Case Example 2:  A North American Petrochemical Plant

In 13 turnaround planning virtual optimization sessions spanning 12 weeks, RLG and client teams numbering 8-16 people, reviewed 35 systems, 728 activities and 742 equipment tags. This captured nearly 500 opportunities and reduced critical path by more than 60 days of combined duration. This work is still in progress but work thus far represents turnaround savings of at least $3.5 million.

Case Example 3:  A European LNG Facility

RLG coaches in a hybrid virtual support plus on-site engagement, are collaborating with the turnaround team at this LNG facility through virtual workshops focused on schedule optimization and have completed eight sessions. This is the first time the client has used virtual space for schedule optimization and results so far have been better than predicted. The client team is highly supportive and looking forward to upcoming sessions, which will engage primary contractors. Starting with a 12-day mechanical work window we have removed 3.5 days, identified 54 actions, and have uncovered 26 risks. This client estimates the impact of this work to be around €5 million in savings.


Case Example 4:  A North American Petrochemical Plant

A few months ago, we had an opportunity to support one of our ongoing clients when they experienced a critical equipment failure resulting in an unplanned shutdown of their ethylene furnaces. In quick order, a virtual “war room” was created to provide coaching, facilitation, and support, whereby all stake­holders shared furnace status, repair and replace progress, operation constraints, plans, and actions.

The virtual war room approach helped pull together a complex team and remote working situation to a productive result:

  • Plant personnel needed to work together to repair and light 10 of 14 furnaces to resume ethylene production as safely and quickly as possible.
  • COVID-19 had 80% of the workforce furloughed or working from home.
  • Extent of the damage to each furnace was not fully understood and new information was emerging daily.
  • Contractor support and critical spares were limited.
  • Communication and problem understanding were interrupted by their inability to meet up as normal in their plant offices.
  • The virtual war-room enabled frequent “huddles” among key stakeholders to ensure alignment to progress, plans, and mutual support.

Over a period of 14 days, the virtual “war room” was constantly updated, providing status on the progression of backlog through the maintenance process. Watch a short clip of the process here:


I thought it would take us a minimum of 4 weeks to get product to the pipeline given the circumstances and our history of unplanned events. We did it in just over 2 weeks!

Senior Superintendent

From home I must have visited that ‘room’ 12 times a day and kept a tab open on my browser to stay current with all the changes that were happening. I’ve never felt so informed and prepared when reporting up to my bosses.

Plant Director

Today, we are starting two new engagements, with a mega-project in commissioning phase, and in a forest products OSB facility, where this remote working approach will again be deployed.

We are ready to help you with your challenges in Industry 4.0, Lean Enterprise and Digital Workplace. For more information, please contact us and we would be happy to talk through your unique challenge and share examples what we have done with others.