It’s hard to imagine that in 2018 there would be any organization that doesn’t use some type of digital technology. For most of us digital has become the norm, and ongoing new developments are the expectation. Keeping up with the “new” can be an investment, but usually the conveniences of the modern world entice us to make the switch to the latest efficiency enhancing device or software available.
Digitizing businesses has many proven benefits. “The visibility and clarity delivered by digital technologies and advanced analytics can give executives unprecedented, granular views into operations, increase agility, and support better strategic decision making.”[i] Research conducted by McKinsey & Company, also indicates that the effective use of digital technologies in the oil and gas sector could reduce capital expenditures and cut operating costs.
Digital Technology and Your Safety Program
We’ve all read and heard about industrial safety programs and their increasingly strict regulations, and with good reason. Regardless of technology, a company’s most valuable assets are still its employees, and for those who work in potentially dangerous environments, new gadgets infused with technological advances are simplifying and improving safety measures. Gas detection equipment providers are adapting digital technology and wireless communication as a standard. The benefits of going digital and automating maintenance, data collection and reporting, and shipping processes parallels the benefits of company process advanced analytics. Add the ability to view time-sensitive information from literally anywhere and the advantages are hard to pass up.
Yet in many cases, for decision makers, the switch is not simply prompted and based upon an “aha” moment. For IT departments there can be the added burden of setting up new systems, learning and training others on new programs, maintaining additional software and hardware, and in some cases, hesitation in relinquishing critical information to the cloud.
Justification for Going Digital and Wireless
With the right gas-detector/software-solution combination, safety managers have the ability to fully view and manage every aspect of their gas detection program, with two goals in mind: employee safety and compliance. Software solutions can include gas detection management, live monitoring, and an automated equipment exchange service. The complete picture includes portable and area gas monitors that seamlessly connect through built-in wireless technology creating a safety network that allows nearby workers to quickly react in an alert situation. This gas detector network in turn communicates back to a monitored dashboard on a PC or mobile devices in real-time. Information sent over the network includes alarm events and data that allow for immediate emergency reaction and the automated creation of industry required reports at any time. Safety managers have the ability to see who, what, when, and where, literally from anywhere. Automated maintenance reminders prompt users to simply plug instruments into a docking station that in turn performs programmed bump tests and calibrations.
So what are the bottom line benefits? Let’s talk return on investment, since ROI tends to be the standard justification for most organizations to make a technological upgrade. Tangible ROI, the traditional calculation of dollars spent vs. dollars received in return, varies depending on how comprehensive the safety solution is. In general, the automation of instrument maintenance can save up to as many as 250 man hours annually; automated reporting vs. writing reports manually can save up to as many as 500 man hours; and the real-time flow of detailed information saves invaluable man-hours related to guess work. A recent case of automated calibration gas delivery, where the software program monitors the level of gas available and prompts shipment without any need to fill out individual order forms or invoices, saved the customer $2000 a month—a $24,000 savings annually!
Intangible ROI comprises benefits that may or may not directly translate back to dollars and cents calculations. An intangible return on investment that may carry a monetary valuation is the assurance that operations are in compliance—when they’re not, they can quickly turn into a monetary loss measured in fines and possibly costly shutdowns. The most significant intangible return on investment is the elevated level of safety of every employee who is willing to make sure that operations are running smoothly and fix whatever is broken, even if it means being exposed to sometimes extremely dangerous conditions. Immediately knowing the person, location, condition, and type of exposure of an employee and being able to properly react more quickly than ever before is a return on investment calculated only by the value of human life.
From an IT perspective, an integrated software solution like Industrial Scientifics’ iNet® that provides every benefit listed above, the transition process is fairly painless. iNet is not an “IT project”. iNet is a hosted platform that does not require installation or additional software, and provides the highest level of cloud security. A few hours of proper training will pave the way for a headache-free, hands-off gas detection safety program. When internal IT projects are in competition with each other, one that supports an organization in preserving life, may be a good contender for the top of the priority list.