June 26, 2020
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about an operating environment where all of the information, history, and procedures needed to safely and effectively perform a task (i.e., start up a piece of equipment, change a valve, perform routine maintenance) are connected to that task, job role, and work assignment. In that scenario, when someone calls in sick, the assignment and all attendant information can be reassigned to another qualified person on the incoming shift. The change in personnel is effectively and proactively managed because the Management of Change (MOC) and Conduct of Operations (CoO) functions are both present in this Connected Workforce environment.
As the worker follows procedures and checks off work on their device, their adherence (or not) to procedures is logged and noted. Issues can be flagged, notifications made, etc., in real-time. And real-time visibility into actual operational performance can help companies prevent a possible PSSR-related incident.
Companies need to evolve beyond compliance to recognize and more holistically manage change due to its pervasive nature in an organization. Humans need to operate the assets, while minimizing human error. To do this effectively, we need to marry Process Safety and MOC with Conduct of Operations. The shift handover is a key point of risk and we need to move away from binders on the shelf to effective decision support with a device at the shop floor level. This shift in thinking moves organizations away from tacit memory to procedure-enabled information through leveraging a connected workforce informed by and of the constant changes that are a reality in any manufacturing facility. The result is a resilient workforce with the likelihood for human error that is able to deal with the dynamic nature of risk and enabled to make effective decisions with the right information, at the right time… leading to operational discipline.
When is the right time to initiate a change? Think about equipment failures. How many Root Cause Analyses do we need to perform before we can see the pattern of failure to identify the bad actor and make the change? This latency of change can cause us to underperform or effectively run to failure and do more unplanned maintenance. As failures occur, our assumptions “change” and we can utilize a Failure Reporting and Corrective Action System (FRACAS). The FRACAS method has traditionally been used to address equipment reliability including incidents and reporting but has broad application to other needs. It has been proven effective in military, manufacturing, and telecom for many years. It provides a disciplined and aggressive closed-loop process for solving issues at the design, development, production, and deployment stages of a project making it a lifecycle application.
In closing, the link between MOC and CoO is critical, but is often disjointed in application. The process interoperability afforded between properly aligned MOC and CoO is the key to deriving enhanced efficiency and effectiveness. Information that is vital to operations needs to be readily available in an easily consumable manner (e.g., tablet) and updated in a timely manner by the MOC process.
There is a standing problem in the process industries where critical information is difficult to obtain due to location, redlining issues or poor revision control. Shift handovers, which are a standalone change protocol, should be driven by a procedure (where feasible) that drives expectations including documentation requirements. A loose process will often result in inconsistent and inadequate results depending on the persons involved. Poor communication during shift handover remains a significant cause of unwanted events that result in injuries and production losses.
Management of bypassed safety and critical control systems is another area of concern. Is this covered by your MOC process? If not, is the governing procedure working as intended and has it been audited periodically? There are numerous incidents each year where bypassed or otherwise defeated safeguards are not returned to service when the process was put back online or the contingency planning failed.
Finally, deferring a change for economic reasons may be detrimental to your long-term production goals. Are MOCs carefully reviewed for the intent and benefit along with an associated risk assessment for deferring the change? The short-term gain may be heavily outweighed by the long-term risk. MOC and the Connected Workforce environment supports and enables superior CoO performance including the operational discipline that is required for realizing EHS and production goals.