This is the second and the final part of a blog based on the insights presented by Malavika Tohani - Research Director – Operational Excellence for Verdantix during a recent ProcessMAP EHS Leadership Roundtable. The presentation centered around the topic of how digital technologies can enable Operational Risk Management (ORM) and Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) functions to collaborate for comprehensive risk management.
Availability of new technology is also helping break down the silos between the Safety and Operations functions. Examples include digital twin simulations of plants and facilities, connected-worker solutions, and 3-D visualizations. For example, real-time data captured by wearables can seamlessly integrate with digital operations and safety solutions so that follow up actions can be proactively created, prioritized, and managed. Similarly, predictive analytics software for asset failure takes into account data about inspections, maintenance routines, management of change to predict failure. This data is used to set up workflow alerts so that maintenance inspections are driven by asset health and failure predictions, not by just time-based maintenance or run to failure.
Digital Twins Enable Step Change Performance Improvements
Digital twins is a relatively new concept that involves creating a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. Digital twins should mimic the performance of the asset as it exists in the real world. Whether the digital twin is of a turbine on a wind farm or an entire industrial facility - it doesn’t have to be a 3-D representation of the asset, it can be a 2-D representation, but it should include some amount of real-time or at least near real-time performance aspects so that it mimics the workings of the asset in the real world. Digital twins add value in different ways to executives in different roles. For example, robots now perform inspections; sensors collect data on the health of BP’s wells and AI and analytics help enable “what if?” scenario modeling so that BP can generate early warnings. The biggest value-add of a digital twin is that it amalgamates structured as well as unstructured data and data which might exist in different systems to a common place for analysis.
Verdantix has seen use cases for Permit to Work expand over the last few years. Permit to Work has a number of uses, including to avoid industrial accidents that can result in serious injuries and fatalities, to maintain compliance with regulatory requirements for process safety, to ensure contractor safety, to increase productivity and to improve real-time industrial risk management. An example of the importance of Permit to Work software is an incident that took place at BASF‘s Ludwigshafen, Germany site in October 2016. A fire and explosion killed five people and injured 45 others. After the incident, production at this large chemical complex was stopped for three weeks. After a thorough investigation, in April 2018, state prosecutors charged a 62 year-old contractor with negligent homicide and other charges. The contract worker had been assigned to cut through an unused pipe, but he accidentally cut through a live pipe that had a chemical mixture running through it. Sparks from the angled grinder ignited the gas. The fire caused the nearby transport pipeline to catch fire and explode. Could a digital Permit to Work software have stopped the contractor from cutting through the wrong pipe? Could a live video feed sent via augmented reality to an expert on site have prevented this kind of a massive accident? The short answer - Yes!
Use cases for mobile apps and mobile devices have expanded significantly. In Verdantix’s survey, mobile apps ranked highest for both EHS and Operational Excellence in terms of the technologies that safety executives are implementing. Mobile devices are now used for inspections and maintenance. Workers can capture such essential data as work orders, notifications, and time confirmations. Employees are now able to log that data at the source, instead of waiting until they have connectivity to upload it. Mobile apps help improve process efficiency through increased accessibility, better insights around workplace safety, increased engagement with frontline workers, making them more aware of safety and enabling safety interventions in real time.
Broadening the Scope of EHS Solutions
Digital EHS solutions can support direct collaboration with other business functions, including Operations, Logistics, Facilities, Human Resources and Learning and Development. Some of the COVID-19 updates to EHS software include cross department functionality, such as including absence reporting and self-isolation documentation within the EHS software platform. Other examples might be visitor management applications that cut across EHS and Facility Management; identifying and managing health or injury-related absences through self-certification of attendance within the Occupational Health or Industrial Hygiene software module; Behavior-based Safety modules can monitor worker well-being and mental health and can be integrated with HR software. Leveraging Root Cause Analysis after incidents from the Incident Management software help to improve Risk Assessments, Asset and Barrier design, Permit to Work, as well as operating procedures.
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