Safe shutdown at Bodens Energi

Bodens Energi AB is a municipally owned CHP company with just over 90 employees. The company supplies electricity and district heating to Bodensarna and the surrounding area. Since September 2019, Bodens Energi has taken help from Sigholm Tech AB in connection with the development of its maintenance work.

Like many other energy companies in the industry, Bodens Energi felt that the work with decommissioning of plant components was an area with great potential for improvement in further preventing the risk of accidents in connection with inspection stops and ongoing production. There was a lack of a clear overview and co-ordination of ongoing work prior to maintenance stops. There was also a desire for clearer procedures regarding the handling of work permits for jobs at shutdown facilities.  

The lack of a standardised approach to the annual audit risks leading to the high level of technical competence that exists internally in the business not being fully utilised. Experience and lessons learned from previous years become person-dependent and/or forgotten, and there is a tendency to have to "reinvent the wheel" every year, which leads to an increased risk of missing or forgetting jobs that should be carried out.

Communication between maintenance planners and operations staff was hampered by the fact that there were no clear processes for how the information should flow and how to internally communicate a need for a safe shutdown between different groups. There was also a need to create and update templates for which objects should be decommissioned in which way for different plant components during, for example, the summer audit.

Safety in focus as Bodens Energi prioritises workplace safety

Based on experience from previous similar assignments, we worked together to develop a process in consultation with employees in different departments at Bodens Energi. It was important that different parts of the organisation were involved in the process development in order to increase ownership and acceptance of the new way of working among the employees. To ensure this, the process development took place in improvement cycles where we together with Bodens Energi continuously developed, implemented and revised the process.

Generally speaking, a safe shutdown is ordered by the person planning the job, often the supervisors. The operating technicians then carry out the shutdown according to the standardised templates that have been developed during the course of the work, which contain instructions for which plant components are included in the shutdown and what to do with them in order to shut down the plant safely. The information is filled in continuously and follows a specific flow. Any contractor who is going to carry out a job on a safely decommissioned part of the installation will receive a work authorisation specifying what job they are going to do and where. No plant can be started until all the work carried out on that part of the plant has been completed and signed off by the person carrying out the work. There are many benefits to working with Safe Shutdown. One of the most important benefits of the work, apart from the increased safety itself of course, is that we gather the expertise of experienced employees and standardise this in plant templates. This means that all employees have an increased opportunity to do the right thing and maintain the same standard as other, more experienced employees at the company.

An important part of the new approach is a higher utilisation rate of the maintenance system. It has served as the basis for planning the audit and specifying the work to be carried out. Based on this, we have been able to determine which works require a safe shutdown. These work orders then form the basis for the plant templates created and, by extension, the practical decommissioning of the plant components. The work orders also form the basis for the work authorisations issued for the jobs to be carried out on a safely decommissioned site. The maintenance system is also an important cog in the ongoing maintenance work, the audit, and the work on safe decommissioning in that all the jobs that recur annually are entered as planned jobs and thus automatically created in the system at a specified interval. This provides increased opportunity to plan and work proactively with safety.

The process developed for Safe Decommissioning aims to:

  • Ensure that no work can be initiated on an installation that has not been switched off according to standardised procedures.
  • Develop cancellation templates that can be refined and reused every year.
  • Ensure that there are clearly defined roles and responsibilities for the safe decommissioning process.
  • Ensure a clear flow of information.
  • Visualise ongoing shutdowns and jobs.
  • Ensure that the need for cancellations is communicated in time to the right staff.
  • Ensure that work authorisations are in place for jobs to be carried out on a part of the site that requires safe standstill. 
  • Ensure that contractors are given copies of work permits to take to work.
  • No installation can be put into operation unless we are sure that all work on that part of the installation has been completed.

Focus on learning in the implementation phase to create will and success

To ensure the best possible implementation of the new way of working, we developed materials that favoured a varied learning approach with a mix of digital learning, discussions, workshops and practical exercises.  

We have used online learning platforms to prepare employees for training in the new way of working. They have been able to access animated films describing the new way of working, recorded lectures, process maps, guides, documents and other process-related material. They were also able to test their knowledge in a quiz, as well as ask questions and provide anonymous feedback during implementation.  

The trainings then consisted of workshops where we mixed discussions, instructions and practical exercises. Due to Covid-19, all trainings and workshops were conducted digitally.


Facility templates have been developed for a large part of the operation. These standardise which objects are to be shut down and in what way for specific plant components. These clearly specify which padlocks are located where in the plant and therefore facilitate both decommissioning and commissioning. These templates can also be used for future audits and ongoing maintenance to reduce duplication of effort.  

All contractors who come to the site to carry out work should be given a work authorisation that they must sign when the work is done so that the plant can be safely started when all related jobs are completed. This creates clarity both for internal staff and for the external contractors who come to Bodens Energi to perform jobs.  

The increased use of the maintenance system to support the work of auditing and safe shutdown means that a greater proportion of the work is automated and that the information is more accessible to all employees instead of being located locally in a binder, on someone's personal computer, in a notebook or in the head of a specific employee. This contributes to increased redundancy for the organisation.

Bodens Energi has successfully implemented a new way of working regarding safe shutdown. They have used the new way of working throughout the 2020 summer audit and they have continuously developed the methods as they have become more comfortable with them and learnt what works for their particular business. Employees are all trained in the new way of working. They often suggest internal improvements to the process to make it even better, which indicates internal ownership. This is the basis for a successful implementation and means that the process lives and develops continuously. 

 The consultants who have worked with this are management consultants with previous experience of leading change projects, specifically in maintenance operations at energy companies.

The article was published 05/01 - 2022

Om Bodens Energi

Bodens Energi driver ett värmeverk som producerar årligen cirka 305 GWh fjärrvärme och 30 GWh el. Huvuddelen av energiproduktionen sker genom avfallsförbränning. Förutom värmeverket driver Bodens Energi sex små vattenkraftverk i Bodens kommun, vilka tillsammans producerar cirka 20 GWh årligen. Denna diversifierade energiproduktion bidrar till att möta energibehoven i området på ett effektivt och hållbart sätt.

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