Achieving Effective Conduct of Operations

August 28, 2015

Doing the same thing in the same way each day is the heart of Operational Discipline. An effective Conduct of Operations (CoO) philosophy turns the concept of operational discipline into assurance that workers actually do those things, in that same way day after day. The end goal is achieving safer work conditions and processes while maximizing efficiency.

To get there, organizations need to establish a framework that includes standards (policies and procedures), workforce competency, communications, appropriate staffing, and clearly defined accountabilities coupled with a strong management system for EH&S/Process Safety. Leadership needs to send a strong message that it supports this strategic initiative and implement clear performance improvement metrics as part of measuring progress against goals.

Four of the core management disciplines include Operations, Engineering, Maintenance, and Management. CoO touches all of them. The typical business drivers for CoO include:

Communication is a critical aspect of shift management so that effective decisions can be made in light of all the pertinent information. While teamwork is an important aspect of CoO, workers must be accountable for "work to do" and "work performed" to avoid gaps in coverage as well as unnecessary overlap. Critical alarm bypasses, work permits, and turnover logs need to be communicated during the shift handover.

At the core, effective CoO relies on clear communication at the plant level. To push it forward, consider underpinning your initiative with digital Operator Rounds and Operator Logs.

Process Operator Rounds include the following:

  • Validation Rounds
  • Surveillance Rounds
  • Equipment condition monitoring
  • Operator Care Rounds
  • Repair requests and initiation of maintenance requests
  • Compliance Rounds

Operator Logs include:

  • Daily Directives (repeat instructions, standing orders, what to be aware of)
  • Action Items (schedule work that needs to be done, repeat schedules)
  • Shift Log (routine or abnormal situation summary)
  • Shift Handover (log actions, upcoming actions, answer key questions, shift continuity)
  • Critical System Defeat (bypass a shutdown system, critical device defeat) – Last Resort!
  • Alerts and Targets (values out of range on historian)
  • Work Permitting

How big can the communication challenge be? In a recent survey conducted by Operational Sustainability, approximately 80% of all respondents reported they currently use paper lists or Excel spreadsheets for managing Operator Rounds. With the changes in workforce demographics, we expect to see increased demand for wireless connectivity and mobility solutions that support the latest in communication functionality.

How are you handling Operator Rounds and Logs today? Are you able to push forward Conduct of Operations efforts with your current foundation?