The oil and gas industry remains one of the largest, most important and lucrative of Australian industries; with oil and gas inspection one of the cornerstones of its impressive scale. The upcoming annual Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) conference celebrates a culmination of oil and gas technology, companies and projects which seek to change the industry.
The exhibition is testament to the huge impact the industry has directly and indirectly on lives in the Asia-Pacific region today. Oil and gas is used for cooking food, as fertilisers and pesticides and in refining plastics and chemicals for products. That’s aside from the obviously vast usage in heating buildings and fuelling cars, trains and planes. The impact that the industry has on everyday life cannot be understated.
Of fundamental importance to everyone involved in the oil and gas industry is safety and management. Occupational Health, Safety & Environment (OHSE) management is a fundamental part of any organisation’s business oversight with new technologies and changing industry and government regulations, constantly varying the adherence landscape. Proper maintenance, compliance and safety inspection is vital to ensure all oil and gas activities are performing at optimum levels. Workplace safety is imperative in any industry but especially so when handling highly flammable resources and working within risk-enhanced environments. Doubters need only look at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (April 2010), to see the importance and impact that a series of unchecked, high-risk events can have. Minor discrepancies can have disastrous consequences for businesses, the environment and human life. The need and argument for thorough and accurate oil and gas inspection has never been so important.
Oil and gas inspection requires both detailed and diverse techniques and measurements to collect data. Paper checklists have dominated oil and gas inspections with no viable alternative, until the introduction of mobile devices and digital inspection methods. Rugged devices and intrinsically safe (IS) devices with ATEX/IECEx Zone 1 and Zone 2 approval are now available as fully-fledged smartphones with powerful functionalities. Paperless inspection solutions are becoming more and more widespread within the field, boasting a wide array of features for inspectors and officers to utilise as well as providing new, powerful data. Inspection can become more thorough; reducing the number and likelihood of incidents, whilst making sure that all issues can be identified earlier. Compliance can be adhered to easier, giving everyone along the inspection chain access to the latest industry and governmental regulatory content. Mobile devices really are transforming the inspection method in more ways than at first glance.
Features paperless solutions can bring to the table:
Whilst the dated paper checklist was confined to tick-boxes, lines to write on and the imagination of the inspector, digital checklists get a whole new level of tools to play with. Every common smartphone feature can be integrated in some way to assist and inspector/officer with recording data. What’s more, the digital inspection checklist app can be updated along with the advancement of technology. When new smartphone and tablet technologies comes to market, inspection apps will be ready, or shortly thereafter, with a way to utilise it for inspection purposes. Inspectors can therefore use the latest and greatest in inspection tools thanks to mobile devices.
Camera – Users can take advantage of the camera for a multitude of purposes. An image can often display the problem much more accurately than the best literary description, as well as being a great way to keep reference of an asset’s life cycle. The camera can also be used for code scanning. Barcodes and RFID can be an important need for organisations in the inspection process, whilst it can also give a quicker access to asset information and status.
Touchscreen Annotation – As the replacement for pen and paper, this doesn’t mean drawing is lost. All the images captured with the camera can be annotated and edited to show and highlight certain things; some mobile devices even come with a handy stylus for those yearning for a pen. Paperless checklists can mean inspectors keep their annotative abilities, whilst speeding up simple checklists via standardised response.
Speech-to-text Services – With Alexa, Google, Cortana and Siri talking to us in our homes, it’s only natural for this to happen at the workplace. Virtual assistants may be a few years off intricate tasks but speech-to-text can still benefit inspectors with speedy input of information as well as being helpful when a more “hands-free” approach is required.
On/Offline Mode – The big fear of anyone in today’s world: What if I can’t connect to the internet? The majority of premium inspection applications offer a dual On/Offline mode; areas which still might not have a stable internet connection can use the Offline mode. This means mobile devices can be taken to any remote or unique location required without a fear of a digital checklist not working.
GPS Timestamps – This is a handy feature especially when considering organisations that have multiple assets that may be moved or be time sensitive. GPS timestamps provide yet another insight into performance of assets and keeps inspection logs simple to manage in the database.
Reference Material – Most inspection applications can allow attachment of reference material in the form of previous reports, manuals, safety notes, drawings and data etc. Reference material is anything that is deemed helpful to those along the inspection process and can be close to anything available. Inspectors can be industry regulations such as ISO 29001; the industry standard for oil and gas managing organisations.
Automatic Corrective Actions – Proactive triggering of suggested actions is available on leading inspection applications. When data is recorded, automatically setup custom triggers can send notifications and emails to select users with information and suggested corrective actions. Rectifying an issue or making adjustments to prevent future problems can be made simple and efficient.
Back-end Storage & Analysis – Digital checklist systems can be hosted either via private servers or on cloud based systems (SaaS). No more storage in voluminous filing cabinets or dusty rooms, all compressed onto accessible servers or the cloud. This provides easy access for both management and inspectors, whenever information is needed. A further benefit of moving all data to digital is the easy integration with Business Intelligence. In-depth analysis can be carried out by digital inspection software itself but for further number-crunching, paperless checklist data can be integrated with any Business Intelligence software chosen.
So why chose to move to paperless? The cycle of positive and meaningful inspections benefits all involved in the organisation or project. Mobile devices within oil and gas inspections really can transform business processes, making the workplace safer, more efficient and a better managed environment. OHSE management can be made simple and effective rather than being a cumbersome and lengthy process. Digital checklists provide a wealth of features that not only drastically enhance paper-based inspection methods, but can be kept in tune with modern technology, both for assets and mobile devices. Moving the inspection process to digital means all forms of data, analysis reports and content can be accessed via web-portal from anywhere. Specific access can be given to management, 3rd party personnel, government officers or inspectors themselves. The fundamental importance of oil and gas alongside its hazardous nature, within the Asia-Pacific region (which has over 200 active oil rigs), highlights that it deserves proper management. Today, there’s no better way to do this than by giving this task to digital inspection applications.
For more information, go to pervidi.com.au