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Sharing Our Experience of Plant Operational Reporting over the last 20 Years

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Improved operational reporting has been driven by technological advances and more complex operational processes.

Infotechnics has seen this change first-hand over its 20 years in business.

When we started in the late 90s, operational logging and handovers were simple processes. We sold a simple system to meet that simple need. It allowed users to log what they were doing during a shift. This turned into an effective shift handover, supported by the electronic logging tool. Even the name of the tool, Logbook, was simple! Back then, users found the software easily by Googling ‘Logbook’!

Today, organisations continue to face the challenge of ensuring safe and efficient operations. But is it a case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same”?

This October, we reflect on the last 20 years in operational reporting.

Moving from Education to Understanding in Operational Reporting

In the early days of ‘Logbook’, the challenge was getting customers to understand and appreciate the benefits of a computerised logging and reporting tool.

A few forward-thinking organisations were forging ahead with such tools. But we needed to communicate the step change that using a tool like Logbook would provide.

So ‘operations reporting evangelists’ we became. We helped spread the word of a better future for computerised logging and reporting!

At the time, the general approach was to use handwritten logs. After all, no computer system could be as flexible as a blank sheet of paper. The operator could write anything they wanted on it.

The goal was to convince organisations that “a blank sheet of paper” was part of the problem.

Providing more structure and standardisation would allow for more effective handovers.

As the years passed, people began to invest time in exploring better operational reporting practices. They searched for tools that could support that drive. A few high profile disasters influenced this drive. As part of the investigation into the cause of these disasters, human factors and inadequate handovers were contributing factors.

The first 20 years of this century has seen technological advances in computing. One area that has been revolutionised is the management of operational data. Today, we talk about Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the mobile workforce. These ideas were incomprehensible 20 years ago.

So, today’s challenges are more complex than when we started Infotechnics in the late 90s. This presents a host of new challenges like how to integrate all this data and highlight the critical information intuitively.

Different (or not so different) Markets

Infotechnics grew from the upstream Oil & Gas market. We produced many software solutions to support 24×7 operations both offshore and onshore and downstream oil & gas.

We then began to discuss operational requirements across different industries. It became clear that the same issues were prevalent in other industries. We could address the challenge for companies in oil & gas, power/utilities, and manufacturing.

As a result, we have always had an underlying aim of ensuring our core product functionality can be applied across diverse industries. This has led to a flexible product suite. Our products focus on the ability of the users to configure the software to their specific requirements.

20 years on, our solutions apply across a diverse range of industries globally.

Technological advances

As early as 12-15 years ago, we had a mobile product. It enabled operators to log information on the move, or a plant or factory floor. However, that involved using a device the size (and weight!) of a brick with a tiny screen. Integrating this data effectively proved a challenge.

Although it was restrictive, it was effective in certain work environments.

The iPhone revolutionised mobile technology when it appeared in 2007. This created a paradigm shift in how people viewed mobile technology. It led to the explosion of social media.

The use of mobile technology increased due to personal use and younger demographics entering the workforce.

As a result, our mobile solutions bear very little resemblance to the solution of 15 years ago. Using the latest in mobile and cloud technology allows us to integrate mobile and other corporate data. Hence, operators have all the required data at their fingertips. Wherever they are in the world and regardless of the environment, they can continue to work.

Looking to the Future of Operational Reporting

The truth is, that even now, 20 years later, a lot of the same issues exist in organisations. Companies continue to expand their use of systems that can measure processes in ever more granular detail. Although, they still struggle to capture knowledge well and use the information for insights. Not just “How is the plant operating?” but, “How are people operating the plant?” This is the question that Opralog answers.

In the past two decades, we’ve seen a huge change in operational industries. The current pace of change in technology drives the explosion of data. So, we’re expecting a lot more change in the decades to come! We can’t predict the future. Yet, we aim to continue to lead from the front. We will do this by providing flexible intuitive solutions that help manage operational data whilst hiding the vast complexity of data. Our solutions ensure that users have focused, easy-to-consume information. Such information ensures a safer and more efficient work environment.

Want to learn more? Give us a call.


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