The Dawn of Digitalisation

The Dawn of Digitalisation

Whether you have currently deployed a digital solution as part of your EHS (Environmental, Health and Safety) landscape, or you are just beginning your journey of finding and selecting a solution for your company, you will have found that the marketplace is full of options for various parts of your EHS programme.

With high expectations and constant pressure from a younger and savvy digital workforce, rapid development of digital equipment such as computers and mobile devices, coupled with inefficiency in plant processes, requirements for better data sharing and visibility, problems with personnel engagement and a raft of other conditions, are increasing pressure on EHS and other departments to digitalise and centralise solutions for the workforce.

Many companies have taken this opportunity as a positive step to support and engage with their increasing and demanding workforce by digitally engaging them on EHS solutions. The answer to most of the demand has been to look towards technology and solutions in the digital space, which could be summarised in one word: DIGITALISATION.

Digitalisation affords companies the opportunity to provide the workforce the solutions to the demands that they have and also for the company: a solution that enhances efficiency, increases productivity, improves personnel and plant safety, and heightens visibility on compliance. It is a ‘win-win’ situation for both the workforce and management as corporate objectives to increase visibility, increase engagement, increase compliance and increase efficiency –all without affecting safety performance negatively – can be achieved by rolling out the correct type of digitalisation project.

“companies have taken a positive step to support and digitally engage with their workforce on EHS solutions”

Saving time, better allocating and managing work and personnel, enhancing process sharing and visibility, minimising risk, and integrating easily with established existing systems (CMMS, DCS, Reporting, and Data Historian) are key digital solution attributes that decisions makers are looking for when considering a corporate solution.

This article looks at some aspects affecting both the company and the workforce, as software solutions for a digital workforce to support EHS programmes and improvements become more of a prominent conversation within industry today.

Increasing Expectations

With the growth of digitalisation in so many aspects of everyday life, the expectation of modern, beneficial and user-friendly technology solutions to be available in the workplace has risen sharply. The average worker comes with high expectations of what the company or employer will provide technology-wise to complement and improve the various aspects of their job and daily tasks. Given most employees will have reasonably modern and expensive smartphones, easily and continuously connected home devices such as thermostats, audio or video devices, car accessories such as GPS equipment and wearable technology such as watches and headphones, they expect to use similar technologies and have similar constant and real time connectivity and data delivery in the workplace.

Such expectations of the workforce tend to drive companies towards acquiring digital solutions in all areas, including EHS. Plant personnel expect up-to-date, necessary, reliable information from many and varied sources to make better-informed decisions at the point of work, while performing their daily tasks in a compliant and consistent manner in-line with the site safety rules.

This is not limited to Operators on the shop floor but also extends to Production and Maintenance Engineers, Managers and C-Level Executives who need to react to events as they happen and make timely critical decisions based on available information such as leading indicators, trends and gathered data from the field. Therefore, a centralised digital solution becomes a high priority, where all necessary information and processes from a variety of sources are gathered reliably and are readily available to all relevant plant personnel in a timely fashion. Being able to rely on the accuracy and compliant nature of the data received through a technology-based solution is critical to making the solution effective for the organisation at large. We can all remember a time where a paper-based approach to recording and retrieving information was suitable for a variety of tasks. As an example, paper-based logs would be used for the recording and retrieval of information such as a Station Log, Unit Log, Control Room Log, or Operations Log which was accessible from only one specific physical location. This was seen as an acceptable means for people to record critical events during their shift and perform an efficient shift handover. Information required to mitigate the risks of unfamiliar, changed, or even current plant conditions were only available from one location and often difficult to read or find, and required a trip to the physical location where the log was kept.

“the modern digital workforce wants to be able to send accurate data in real time from anywhere, at any time”

In the digital age, enabling plant personnel to perform data collection and recording critical information on digital devices, then automatically sending that information to predefined digital logs with all the checks and balances that a software solution provides, significantly increases the quality and reliability, real-time availability, and accessibility of the data from a variety of locations. Armed with all this robust and reliable data collection methods and the resultant information, plant personnel can now make better informed decisions at the point of work.