How do you get the most of out of a system like Opralog? One way is to understand how advanced users apply it to process engineering and operational reporting processes.
In an age of digitalisation and modernisation, you may fall into some traps along the way. Here are 3 common stumbling blocks and how you can have a smooth transition to smart shift reporting.
1. The Goal is Not to Replicate Your Paper / Manual Systems
Most plants start recording operational data on paper – its quick, simple and the ultimate in flexibility. However there are also many problems and limitations and on the search for improvement, the next stage is often to utlise computers and tools such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel, for instance. But these still have very limited functionality for process engineering or shift reporting and are really just an electronic version of the paper systems.
Today, its recognised that only through the collection and smart use of operational data can plants really improve performance and ensure safe and reliable operations.
Digital solutions, such as Opralog, designed to improve standardisation, efficiency and communication across the plant are introduced but, rather than take this as an opportunity to review processes, procedures and improve, many implementations just become a further iteration of the Spreadsheets and Word documents they were brought in to replace,
This approach can still lead to some immediate benefits such as storing data in a secure database and having the ability to search and share information but it’s not really taking that huge step change in performance that could be achieved if the initial implementation was properly considered.
Don’t replicate your paper-based system. That’s not what this is about. Instead, start the implementation with fresh eyes and a new system that improves the consistency of information, drives standardisation and the use of pre-set templates for how your teams record information and share operational data across the organisation.
For this to succeed, decision-makers will need to take a step back and ask some tough questions. Questions like,
“What information do we need?” “Why are we recording this?” “What format should it be in?” “Who should know about this once it’s logged?” “How can we measure value in our current operations?”
2. Treating Opralog as an ‘Add-On’ Will Only ‘Add On’ Complexity
Digital plant solutions such as Opralog should streamline the process, improve efficiency and reduce the workload of the operator. But if they’re not introduced properly these systems can have the opposite effect.
We’ve been in many control rooms where operators and engineers fill out multiple spreadsheets and documents, replicating data that is stored in other systems just because ‘that’s what they’ve always done’. If that philosophy continues every new system becomes a burden. With the best intentions, companies set up a new operational reporting system and take the time to onboard and train their staff to use it. Yet, Opralog can end up becoming one more thing people have to do rather than a replacement that makes life easier.
In our experience, it’s just as important to add new solutions as it is to take away solutions that have been less effective over time.
Opralog works best when it’s the single point of entry for the operator. It should be where your team gathers, processes, stores and shares information. By creating a single reporting solution, you can remove almost all documents/spreadsheets and all duplication from your business. This drives more efficient processes and allows your staff to get on with their jobs rather than the reporting of their jobs.
3. Realise the Full Benefits for Operational Reporting, or Get Stuck at Level One
Think about a popular program such as Microsoft Excel. We use such programmes daily for simple activities e.g. storing data. Fewer people use Excel for more complex activities such as graphs and charts. An even smaller number of people squeeze out the value of Excel e.g. using aggregate functions or poll trackers. Still, it’s all there, easily found via most of our Start menus.
It’s a similar thing with Opralog. Although the tool can do 99% of what companies need to improve their reporting and processes, companies often stop at level one. They get value from consistent data entry, alerts and standardising reports. But there is more to the solution that they could miss.
You can’t see all the benefits of a new system on day one. Opralog is configurable and works in a customised way for each business. We try to work collaboratively with each customer and it’s important that there is resource put aside to own and champion the system over time. So, we would expect to see it evolve in your company. To complement that, your teams need a phased roadmap for implementation. Check out the latest features and see where your business could see the added value.
Do More with What You Have
The first step for a company who wants to get more out of Opralog is to review your data flow. Decide how you want the information to travel from operational personnel to your management team. Ask:
What data do you need?
Who will use it?
How could your data become more beneficial to you?
Then, make sure that you’re not adding inefficiencies with new processes. Remove unnecessary systems and avoid duplication. Finally, stay informed about the latest features that might be a great step-up for your business.