Let’s start the new year looking at how data can be used to help pursue zero harm and challenge complacency.
Operational Intelligence (OI) is a category of real time and near real time dynamic business analytics that span a wide range of businesses and industries. In the realm of process plants, chemical manufacturing and refining, OI marries process information and other elements of business information to get a more complete and timely understanding of enterprise performance. There are many dimensions to the enterprise that include:
- Customers and market
- Inventory and supply chain
While the metrics of business function can be measured in detail and quantitatively, some of the softer metrics of business functions are often reflected as derivatives. One example is corporate culture. A predatory corporate culture might reflect in higher staff turnover rates where as a culture seen as nurturing might reflect lower staff turnover rates.
Compliance plays a large role in the behavior of industrial companies dealing with hazardous processes and products. Moving towards zero harm of people, the environment and the business itself is driven in large part by compliance of local, national and international regulations. How to move towards zero harm while increasing productivity is where OI and HSE intersect.
The relentless pursuit of zero harm
Traditional HSE systems include policy, training, rules, inspection, audits, investigations, preparedness, management of change, risk management, control, among others. While OI technology is quite technical in tapping into DCS and SCADA systems, deriving insights into safety readiness can sometimes be more fluid as there are many non-technical parameters to consider, just like measuring corporate culture.
For example, during a shift change, an operator notes that a pump is performing poorly and running behind. As noted in the shift handover, a recommendation for inspection is made. Insight into the safety and technical training of the contractors on site for this piece of equipment that is involved in a hazardous process becomes very useful. If the workers have not been briefed and trained in this area of the plant, the risk of an incident increases, not because of the condition of the equipment, but because of the readiness of the people.
Take the case of lighting a heater. There are multiple layers of protection that include Procedures, Training, Safety Bypass Procedures, a Reliable BMS, and Stop Work Authority. Data gathered from the various points might include gas flow, heater temperature, O2 concentrations, combustibles and CH4 concentrations, and flame detection. Putting these together in context can yield a picture of what’s happening, but we tend to put more weight on data that supports our beliefs. Challenging ourselves to look outside technical supporting data into other areas is essential for approaching zero harm. OI and HSE intersects again in this case.
The ability of an OI platform to find its way into the traditional HSE systems and display multi-variate data in context brings real measurable benefits. Verifying all the conditions of a hazardous process in context with the people, process, and training needed to refresh or modify the process can show insight not typically possible. These sorts of mashups are key to successful digitalization initiatives going on throughout the industry that drive productivity and improve safety. Matching up a work order, to a process, to the toolbox talk with the crew doing the work, and the safety training records along with the status of the process only helps to promote safe operations.
It is to your best advantage to leverage all the information you have at your disposal and to leverage the connections and interactions between all your information sets for safe and productive operations.
More information about the intersection of OI and HSE, check out my friends at ITVizion.