Effectively managing your operational risk and mitigating major hazards across a facility relies on continuous monitoring, coordination and integration of several complex systems.
Being able to demonstrate that you are protecting your people, assets, and the environment and staying ahead of emerging risk, while complying with myriad corporate and regulatory requirements means that monitoring and reporting across these operations is becoming even more complex and resource intensive.
To manage risk, organizations create Management Systems to provide a safe framework within which to operate and rely heavily on compliance of all personnel. But how do you know in real-time, or even in advance, that there is an escalation of risk and its origin within your organisation?
Unfortunately, while audit processes highlight areas for improvements and are fundamental to the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle of any management system; the actions taken are all in arrears and only following detection of deviation.
Luckily, there is technology available to efficiently digitalize and automate business processes across all departmental functions. This same technology connects to multiple data sources and can eliminate the ‘technology debt’ that can create significant hurdles for digitalization effort.
Digitalization of your Management Systems on its own may sound like a mammoth task, but is very attainable using a flexible, low code tool (meaning sustainable and lower life-cycle cost solutions are ensured) that can cater to your specific operational process and needs. This type of solution also allows for integration between processes and establishes a single platform for all users that can scale when needed.
As mentioned, organizations design and implement comprehensive but costly Safety Management Systems (SMS) – also referred to as Operations Management Systems or Facility Management Systems. Embedded within these are procedures which define how risk is identified, categorized, ranked and managed to acceptable levels through use of mitigation measures/actions (risk assessment), Other elements within the SMS are specific to Effective Control of Work (e-PTW), which also incorporates the same risk assessment tools, Management of Change (MOC) that covers risk associated with changes to engineering, organizational and procedural controls.
So how does an organisation get from “digitalization of business process” to knowing in advance of emerging risk issues and preventing these risks from turning into the unwanted event?
Digitalization of just these three operational elements, which when integrated with digital Action Tracking Management takes a significant step toward laying the foundation for real-time risk monitoring and management.
Breaking it down let’s look at these “systems” or operational elements.
Management of Change (MOC)
In today’s age it can feel like the only real constant is change. While change is essential for any high performing organization as they evolve, innovate and continuously improve existing practices, change without diligent processes and governance creates hidden risk to assets, the environment and people.
Undocumented or unapproved changes are a known contributor to incidents. The improper recording, evaluation, approval and reporting of change on an operating asset can have a negative impact on both safety and integrity.
Applying an automated business process solution to MOC provides a structured approach to manage change that enforces compliance to the company standard. This solution captures all relevant change information, ensures visibility of the change, provides for multiple approval levels, ensures traceability of changes, manages the overall change lifecycle and increases asset integrity. Additional benefits are the centralization of all MOC requests, an embedded approvals workflow, dashboard connectivity, audit trail, email notifications and search capabilities.
Safety Integrity Business Exception Reporting (SIBER)
Manually combing through information and records (in a classic audit tradition) from multiple departments and sources is tedious, time-consuming, and expensive work – and the chances of non-conformance being overlooked is very high.
By connecting any and all existing systems (ERP, process historians, safety systems, work processes, etc.) into a single view with pre-configured rules, business and operating asset non-conformances (risk) are monitored in real-time. A configured Kanban style dashboard removes reliance on personnel to understand the intricacies of interdependencies and facilitates the quick analysis of risk, and then escalates issues when appropriate. This automated safety integrity business exception reporting solution can determine if key personnel need to be informed of a problem where timebound and alert them to take action before it becomes a major issue.
Some operational barrier/control monitoring that can be configured include:
- Monitoring the number of overrides/inhibits at a facility that are active against a company determined limit
- Operating envelope excursions on critical equipment items
- The type, volume and age of MOCs involving Safety Critical Elements
- Overdue or upcoming well integrity checks
- Expiring high priority action items
- Upcoming insurance or regulatory license expiry dates
- Competency non-compliance for safety critical or mandatory training
Before we move from SIBER to cumulative asset risk assessment (CARA) it is essential that the concept of barrier management is clearly understood. CARA as a dynamic risk management tool is an evolution of SIBER to incorporate cumulative, real-time risk assessment in relation to process safety barriers implemented to prevent major accident events.
Let’s look at a few key risk control elements (barriers) which are integral to any company operating within the oil and gas industry. Barriers can be defined as technical, operational, and organizational elements which are intended individually or collectively to reduce the possibility for a specific error, hazard, or accident to occur, or which limit its harm or disadvantages (Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, 2013).
Barriers can be both static and dynamic, and the reality of real-life operations mean they can suffer from degradation at varying rates over time. We referred to barriers as falling into the following categories: technical, operational and organizational. Let’s look at these from a Management Systems Perspective, understanding that in many cases, technical, operational, and organizational elements must all be present to realize a barrier function. All those procedures referenced above fall into the Operational Barrier category, the most dynamic barrier of the three
Cumulative Asset Risk Assessment (CARA)
A common issue with many barrier management systems is that they are manual and rely on an individual’s behaviour in terms of following up on risks, mitigations, risk assessments, approvals and, in general, following the process.
With an automated CARA system in place, technical, operational and organizational safety barriers and their associated safety critical elements can be automatically monitored for deviations from defined performance standards and critical processes within a safety management system. Digitalizing this process provides a real-time view of compliance with the barrier model for a facility, facilities or organization.
Notifications are issued when there is immediate risk exposure, and by having a greater visibility into the current cumulative risk allows the duty holder to visualize, manage and make informed decisions to prioritize activities that reduce risk of a major incident.
Safety, identifying risk and then managing your risk controls are key aspects of oil and gas operations – key aspects that are ideal for digitalization.
The right digitalization solution to automate business processes should give oil and gas operators and service companies exactly what they need to reduce risk and continue operating efficiently. Organizations should not have to change their processes to fit a software solution or make a significant capital investment to develop and deploy a custom solution.
A configurable solution that adapts to a company’s current processes and unique needs will enable that company to save time and effort by improving efficiency, reduce risk and remove uncertainty by minimizing the impact of change, make informed decisions, and improve corporate compliance by maintaining an audit trail.
If you’re interested in understanding how one of these processes – or any other manual process which may be creating pain within your organization – could be automated for you, reach out for a free assessment.