Until recently, a maintenance worker’s day at an oil & gas or other process manufacturing facility often required completing tasks with limited communication with managers, burdensome documentation and, at the worst of times, educated guesswork on essential jobs.
Today, that worker has all he needs to do the job right with a connected headset and access to mCloud’s AssetCare™ for Connected Workers.
As more critical components of facilities come online, the average workflow is transforming, bringing in a new era of efficiency and productivity for maintenance workers. Many of the enabling technologies are already in place for this new workflow, while more are coming online soon or currently under development.
Just how big of a difference are we talking about? Let’s follow John “the connected worker” throughout a typical day in the not-to-distant future and see how it compares to a traditional maintenance worker’s day.
John clocks in, checks his tasks for the day and immediately heads to tackle his first problem – in this case, a pump in need of maintenance.
If John were working at an average facility two years ago, he’d have to gather all the documentation he needed to work on this specific pump before getting started. This could include a maintenance manual, vendor documentation and a pile of other papers adding up to an armful of material that he would need to bring with him to the pump.
For the connected worker, things are much simpler. With his AssetCare-enabled headset affixed to his hardhat -- featuring a tiny computer screen in his field of view, high-resolution video camera and voice-activated controls -- John has everything he needs. All documentation is readily accessible wirelessly from the cloud, eliminating the need to juggle paperwork and tools while trying to do his job.
Just 10 minutes later, John is already in place and ready to get to work. This may not sound like much to an outsider, but maintenance workers will recognize this as a game changer. Large, more complex plants present huge difficulties in simply locating the exact problem area. Even if you manage to find the right building easily enough, there could be dozens of valves, leaving a worker to steadily deduce which one needs attention. This is a particularly difficult challenge for workers who perform maintenance at multiple sites, or for new workers who haven’t yet learned the lay of the land. It’s all too common for maintenance workers to spend precious time pinning down exactly where they’re supposed to be, losing time and cost-efficiency along the way. With AssetCare, on the other hand, the connected worker has the benefit of a 3D model created using laser scans – a digital twin of the entire plant – that he can pull up on his headset and easily navigate directly to the valve that needs attention.
John now follows a step-by-step procedure guide displayed on his headset to “lock out, tag out” the pump so it is isolated from the rest of plant before proceeding. At this point, traditional workers would need to get in contact with a supervisor to confirm that’s it’s safe to continue. Previous communications options boiled down to scouring the plant for a place with decent cell reception or relying on walkie-talkies and hoping the person you need can be reached – which was often not the case. As a connected worker, John has a direct line to his supervisor at all times. Not only that, his supervisor is able to see what he sees and hear what he hears before providing the go-ahead. John then begins replacing the pump’s seal to fix a leak. Partway through, he sees unexpected internal damage that could bring the pump offline if left unattended. His supervisor now instructs him to connect directly to the company’s pump expert to assess the situation, sending photos and live streaming video, to receive expert advice in real-time. The true strength of the connected worker is that the worker is never alone – the optimum support for any possible situation is available from experts located anywhere in the world, removing all guesswork and potential mistakes from a misunderstood prescription to the problem. The facility also has a detailed record of all the maintenance conducted.
11:00 a.m. – 5 p.m.
With still an hour left before lunch, John has already accomplished more than his traditional counterparts in the past would have managed in a day. The pump issue was easily troubleshot and repaired while several other tasks were dealt with just as quickly. He now has additional hours available to him that a traditional worker never did, thanks to spending his time fixing things rather than gathering what he needed to do so.
Things are going just as smoothly for the plant operators, who are able to find all sorts of ways to take advantage of John’s additional time, especially since AssetCare can help identify potential issues ahead of time for critical assets. In a future iteration, the operator will be able to display process and equipment health data for plant equipment with just a glance. This capability allows operators to direct John to check on equipment that’s showing signs of wear or other issues and take care of problems before they happen.
They can simply take a photo of the problem, add some comments and send it to John for his assessment. This targeted approach to maintenance work, performing diagnostics on vulnerable equipment before it has a chance to malfunction, is a dramatic change for how plants have typically operated, reducing the number of issues that may cause a plant to shut down for repairs.
In the end, the vision and value of AssetCare for Connected Workers is giving everyone involved in plant operations streamlined access to information that already exists but has been previously locked behind cumbersome manual processes or communication issues.
Bringing all of this data and expertise to the fingertips of industrial workers allows them to see the complete picture and get help when they need it. This means near-term problems are solved quickly, allowing ample time to check other potential long-term issues.
To learn more about our connected solutions and how mCloud is equipping industrial facilities such as gas plants, mining operations, pulp and paper plants, chemical production and construction sites to have a workflow just like John the connected worker, visit AssetCare for Connected Workers.