Fixing the Frontline: Digital Transformation Is Key to Elevating Operational Excellence

Fixing the Frontline: Digital Transformation Is Key to Elevating Operational Excellence

By | November 14, 2019

During the 2019 Middle East Process Engineering Conference (MEPEC) and World Petroleum Council (WPC) Downstream Conference, Sphera presented an electronic poster. The content was based on feedback from talking to people at conferences and engagements, and the common questions that arise are:

  • We are not sure our policies are implemented as we need them to be in operational practice. How can we create more effective policies and rules for continuous improvement?
  • What are the biggest risks to my business?
  • What jobs or deviations are raising the risks in my plant?
  • Where should I focus my budget to get the best risk reduction?
  • How do I measure my risk across all my assets?
  • How do we get a line of sight on Operational Risk?
  • How do we raise our risk management capabilities?
  • How do we manage workload against risk?
  • How do we manage Operational Risk across the organization?
  • How do we improve our frontline safety culture and behavior, especially when people aren’t following the rules?
  • How do we allocate our resources more effectively?
  • Why do we have so many repeat incidents/high-potential incident?
  • Why isn’t our auditing helping to drive improvement?
  • Why is our management and business IT implementation costly and ineffective?

Most of these needs can be addressed by implementing a Digital Transformation strategy.

In today’s competitive, cross-cultural world, most organizations are driven by an Operational Excellence strategy. Generally, they contain programs that are targeted at lowering Operational Risk and operating costs while improving Process Safety and productivity.

Safety is a derivative of a well-managed risk identification program.


Implementing a Digital Transformation Strategy Can Lead to Improved Operational Excellence

In industry, most injuries occur at the front line while employees are performing work. Damage to assets or Process Safety events are rarer but more expensive for a company to recover from. Today, we have the definitive advantage of being able to access data and turn it into actionable insights that is invaluable to helping companies perform work safer and smarter while protecting equipment and improving the Operational Excellence journey. A drive toward digital disruption of the antiquated paper-based systems still in place in many facilities today is possible; it just needs a vision and a strategy to accomplish it.


Overcoming Process Safety Challenges to Enhance Operational Excellence

From our surveys over the past few years, we have gained insight that there is a need to up the game the way Process Safety is managed within the Operational Excellence strategy.


Here are selected key results from the last Process Safety/Operational Risk Management survey (the full survey results are available here).

Digital View of Risk From Frontline to Boardroom Using the Three-Screen View

A single, shared view of the operational reality is a simple, elegant way of connecting disparate processes and people. It allows everyone to visualize and manage risk and activity in a new way. Everyone from the boardroom to the frontline can now consistently see and manage activity and risk across the enterprise.

When Will It Happen?

Operators must identify when the potential level of risk is at its peak. Our traditional Gantt charts display sequenced activities, deviations and scheduling conflicts. Indicators of high or medium levels of risk help operators see when risk may impact current and future shifts.

Where Will It Happen?

What Is Happening?

Operators must see how risk impairs Process Safety barriers during each shift. In addition, they need to know the risk impact of specific impairments and Major Accident Hazard (MAH) risk exposure. One best practice is being able to identify and schedule repair work based on risk priority.


The Reality of Risk, Use of Digital Templates and Risk Matrices to Reduce Injuries at the Frontline

At the frontline in hazardous industries, production is ongoing, activities occur, and Operational Risk and human interactions collide. In the midst of this instability sits hazard identification and risk analysis using a risk assessment matrix (RAM). Getting it right and making safety operational is critical.

In order to improve risk-based decision-making, industry operators need to be familiar with the use of hazardous task templates that embed policy into practice while allowing people to better follow the rules. When accessed, they must be able to highlight lessons learned and best practices from previous instances of similar jobs to address all work performed in the facility. The objective is to reduce risk, perform work safer and smarter, and protect our people and equipment while improving our Operational Excellence journey.


Using Paper-free Digitized, Intrinsically Safe Mobile Devices

Thanks to the Digital Transformation going on all around us, mobile devices provide the tools necessary to lessen and simplify workload as the future of front-line operations kicks into high gear. Those companies who take advantage of this can manage their business in an integrated way and develop a high level of operating performance that’s sustainable.

A paper-free, digitized worker can move from a reactive position to a proactive one; this manifests itself in no more permit queues, electronic permit signatures, the ability to track via worker locations through GPS in an emergency and location confirmation for implementation of isolation plans.

Employees benefit by being able to view risk levels at the equipment location level. By looking at a screen on the hand-held digital device, the worker can see if the plant is safe and the possibility of a Process Safety event occurring. Information on the operational reality is shared digitally from the master system, which allows decision-makers in the organization to know what’s happening, where it’s happening and what’s driving the risk.

Implementing a Digital Transformation strategy can lead to improved Operational Excellence.

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Sphera is the leading provider of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and risk management software, data and consulting services with a focus on Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S), Operational Risk Management and Product Stewardship.
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