Ask a roomful of operators to tell you what information is important to record. You’ll probably get a dozen different answers. The truth is, most employees record what they feel is important, or what they always have done, and then disregard the rest. The problem for plant operations is that when we subjectively decide what’s relevant to record, we miss a wider picture. This is especially true when working with complex plants or industries.

Putting the Current Operational Reporting System Under the Spotlight

Quite often, operations will record what they have always recorded. They repeat the same process over and over. For some, this is a piece of paper and a clipboard, sticky notes or a pocket notepad; while for others, it’s holding the information in their head until they have time to record it elsewhere. 

The next is usually that someone will collect this information, add it to a spreadsheet or a report, and send it to the relevant department. How they use the information depends on the recipient. But we know from experience that information can easily get ignored or pushed to the side – especially when there is nothing unusual to report.

In the operations world, a lot of outside technicians will have a designed route that takes them through set questions:

Is the machine hot?

Is it noisy?

Was there oil in the tank?

Did you top it up? etc.

Reports include yes/no answers for these normal events, and the ability to spot anything outside the norm. But there isn’t a lot of room for insight or quality of information.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s crucial to think about efficiency. When an operator is doing the rounds, it could take an hour for them to finish the task. They might get called away to other operational tasks, so the information isn’t sent for another 5-6 hours. Yet it’s only when the engineer has this information that he can make decisions. This delay is often frustrating, and an unnecessary waste of time, considering that the information existed hours before. Efficiency is of the essence.

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Offshore Operations Need Instantaneous Availability of Information

Ultimately, a blank piece of paper is the most flexible tool you can hand your operators. While one might use it as an invitation to write down everything they see and think, another member of staff could draw a smiley face and consider their job well done.

To gain real value from operational reporting, consistency is key. An electronic reporting system can guide your operator through the information they need to provide, facilitating quality of data and uniformity in the process from shift to shift. With a clear template, operators can be proactive – prompted to include anything they might have forgotten and guided through a process on any upset events. Managers can make sure that operators comply with the process, track what’s being done and have a full audit trail of plant events. 

A centralised electronic system also promises instant availability of information for the engineers on the ground. As soon as engineers gather the information, it’s visible for all and everyone is in sync. 

Benefits include:

  • Quicker response on the ground: No delay from note-taking to publishing centrally.
  • Reduction in human error: Paper records can be lost or copied incorrectly, and real-time logging is much more reliable.
  • Save time and manpower: Respect the time of your operators. Why copy the information out twice if you don’t have to?
  • Targeted response: An electronic system can automatically flag the right member of staff to take action.

Let Procedure Sit in the Background

There is zero procedure in walking around a plant with a piece of paper and a pen in hand. While operators will be trained and skilled at what they do, without consistency, the value of data is always going to be limited. Putting a system in place enables, assists and empowers your operators across your business. It’s a clear way to show your staff that you see the value of their knowledge and expertise. The data collected will no longer be filed away for no one to see but be instantly accessible and actionable. You demonstrate that you want to support aggregating information in the simplest possible way.

The result? They keep doing a great job, and you get the added benefit of consistent, available data that facilitates efficiency on the ground.

If you’re considering a move to a more robust operational reporting system, schedule a call.