As we can see, the process involves multiple departments and different individuals (often contractors as well). In such cases, it becomes important that all personnel understand and follow the Control of Work process in a short time, often in a running plant. Delay in carrying out the work results in plant unavailability, thereby negatively impacting production. At the same time, doing it in haste without proper precautions can cause accidents and even lead to fatalities.
Hence, it becomes imperative that the CoW system is not just task-based but provides a framework for hazard and risk assessment in which responsibilities and accountabilities are clearly defined. It should also be possible to verify that the CoW roles are fulfilled by individuals who possess the required minimum training.
The system should maintain an audit trail as well and provide a framework for lessons learned and improvement.
The effectiveness of risk assessments will be greatly improved by collating and rendering the following information to the permit requestor during risk assessment:
- Hazard checklists
- Procedure documents
- Isolation diagrams
- Method statements
- Historical permits, isolations and incidents
The process starts with creating a Work Order in the central EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) system and ends when it is closed in EAM. It’s important that Work Orders (WOs) for planned work are generated in advance and there is smooth integration amongst the Work Order information system, the Incident Management System, the Document Management System and the Personnel Management System.
Most of the time, the Control of Work process being followed is not ideal. Typically, the process lays emphasis on completion of the task instead of identifying and mitigating the hazard.
- The process is typically not compliant with incident analysis, internal and external inspections
- It’s not integrated with other systems and people need to enter data in multiple places
- It’s not possible to search historical Permits and Isolations
- Authorization and qualification verification of the person doing the work is difficult
- It doesn’t give a good view of SIMOPS in highlighting active and planned Permits and Isolations, especially during Turn Around
Mostly, a new permit needs to be created from scratch. Also, even a desktop-based solution results in the user needing to return to his
workstation to enter details and make a decision. It becomes quite laborious, resulting in gaps in following the Control of Work process and is also quite inefficient.
- Possibility of changing or removing secured protection i.e. Isolations
- Different third-party vendors/contractors may not know how to following the process
Current Control of Work processes mostly are either manual or standalone systems and have many drawbacks such as people manually filling in Permits which need to be rectified and are often prone to clerical errors. Also, the standalone systems do not help in getting the complete picture.
These manual or semi-automated processes are also time consuming and laborious to follow which unfortunately delays the maintenance activity.
Approach to digitalise control of work
Most organizations have set and benchmarked their Control of Work processes to a certain suitable standard. Changing these processes is a big organizational change, - something which is not easy and certainly not possible to
It’s very important to thoroughly understand an organization’s need and establish a suitable Control of Work process to plan work, identify hazards, assess risks and put in place measures to reduce risk and hazards. This will not only help to complete the work safely but also reduce unplanned outages and any environmental damage.
Hence the journey of implementing CoW solutions starts with reviewing the process, till a solution implementation is found.