This blog is the first in a five-part series on overcoming challenges in the oil and gas industry, which addresses several ubiquitous problems plaguing EPC operational efficiency:
- Keeping everyone safe during SIMOPS.
- Keeping projects on time and under budget.
- Making informed decisions throughout the entire project lifecycle.
- Ensuring uninterrupted flow of information.
- Keeping an eye on the whole project with accurate information.
Construction execution and asset maintenance in oil and gas suffer from an overwhelming lack of digital maturity. This blog focuses on how going digital helps keep workers safe during simultaneous operations (SIMOPS) and is divided into four parts:
What are SIMOPS?
Simultaneous operations (SIMOPS)—when more than one activity is carried out at the same time in the same location during the construction, commissioning and/or production phases—are a fact of life in industrial settings.
In the Oil & Gas industry, SIMOPS can be a combination of any of the following activities, for example:
- Construction activities such as lifting and rigging over live plant;
- Changing out major rotating equipment;
- Confined space entry;
- Hot works and naked flame activities;
- Blasting and painting works;
- Completions and commissioning activities;
- Production activities following partial handovers.
The Problem: HSE During SIMOPS
Balancing asset maintenance with meeting quotas and other operational demands during SIMOPS requires complex scheduling and logistical coordination to minimize interference and to protect industrial Health, Safety and Environment (HSE).
The perceived and actual operational efficiencies of SIMOPS come with a tradeoff. That tradeoff is increased health and safety risk relative to status quo operations. The potential for two or more activities to interact unpredictably poses a genuine risk to occupational health and safety.
SIMOPS hazards increase when any of the activities occur in working areas where, for example, there is a risk hydrogen sulfide gas, where special chemicals are utilized, and/or when multiple subcontractors are involved.
One of the most significant challenges associated with SIMOPS is ensuring the communication of accurate real-time information to the multitude of involved personnel, including but not limited to: site managers, construction managers, commissioning managers, commissioning authorities, HSE managers, SIMOPS leaders, production superintendents, fire and rescue chiefs, and subcontractor site representatives.
SIMOPS responsibilities vary among the involved parties, with everyone requiring information specific to his or her remit. Such information ranges from notification of access restrictions to hazard identification, predictive safety impacts and emergency procedures.
Given the complexity and high-hazard nature of SIMOPS in Oil & Gas, for example, ensuring dissemination of updated, error-free, technical information to ensure health and safety is no small task.
The Solution: Go Digital with Paperless SIMOPS Software Solutions
SIMOPS are inherently risky. To minimize HSE risks, real-time hazard and status information must be available, accessible and accurate. Given the logistical complexities of SIMOPS in industrial environments, communications that meet the necessary demands are tricky to consistently pull off among the wide range of key players.
The answer lies in paperless software solutions designed specifically to meet the expansive demands of SIMOPS. Firstly, digitizing processes associated with coordinating SIMOPS construction activities creates one single source of information giving transparency and accountability. For permits-to-work and other authorizations, such records prove indispensable.
Paperless SIMOPS software solutions compile archival and up-to-date information for all related activities including defining work scope, compliance, scheduling, commissioning, work permits and safety requirements. It takes the sting out of communication and makes people’s jobs easier so that they can focus on getting the job done right, efficiently and safely.
SIMOPS software solutions are interactive scheduling ecosystems, providing consistent, structured, real-time status reporting that accommodates work-front management needs. Visibility to all through a remotely accessible platform, digital SIMOPS also takes advantage of asset visualization that facilitates seamless scheduling, as well as flexible and efficient work processes.
Directly linked to onsite productivity, the flexible and efficient work processes enabled by digital SIMOPS solutions make for successful project teams and are proven to increase productivity offshore by 25 percent.
The Bottom Line: Digital Solutions Place Safety First
SIMOPS compound occupational health and safety risks, which can be hard to manage given the diversity of activities and range of personnel involved from various entities. Ensuring the safety-first of onsite workers is fundamental to the success of SIMOPS in industrial settings.
SIMOPS work-front management requires traceability, control, scheduling and coordination, all while putting safety first and continuously evaluating and responding to a set of dynamic risks. Conducing this expanse of work with old paper-based systems inevitably increases the chances of error, miscommunication and misunderstanding, exposing onsite workers to additional, unnecessary risks.
Paperless software solutions designed to handle SIMOPS makes everyone’s life easier, so that the focus can be on work quality and safety. Features such as consistent, structured scheduling and real-time status reporting take the guesswork out of SIMOPS, supporting collaborative efforts, increasing efficiency and reducing room for error. This eliminates the need for labor-intensive paper-based management systems, saving time, honing focus and placing safety first.
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