Digital Transformation for Safe Operations

One of the big topics last week at CERAWeek 2018 was the role technology can play to improve business performance—especially in areas such as safety, reliability and efficiency. These advancing technologies coupled with improved work practices can deliver a digital transformation to companies that undertake this journey.

At this week’s Safety Case Symposium 2018 Singapore conference, Emerson’s Jonas Berge is presenting, Digital Transformation Helping Your Safety Case. Here is the abstract:

Emerson's Jonas Berge

Singapore has embarked on implementation of Safety Case regime. Such regime has been implemented in the European Union and Australia. The regime requires MHIs [Workplace Safety and Health (Major Hazard Installations)] to demonstrate to regulators how risks from Safety Critical Events (SCEs) are being reduced to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) and thereby ensuring safe operations in a sustainable manner.

A safety case is a written presentation of the hazards and risks that may lead to a major accident at an MHI and the technical, management and operational measures in place to control those hazards and risks. A safety case is commonly presented using, and communicated through a structured set of documentation that focuses on preventing major accidents at the installations, and limiting their consequences to people and the vicinity.

Digital Transformation for Safe OperationsIn his presentation, Jonas noted that for the safety case, there is an increased emphasis on training and assessment, more frequent inspection, increased monitoring, equipment condition monitoring, reporting and more. These challenging safety requirements provide the basis to look at technologies and work practices to maintain a robust safety case.

Undertaking a digital transformation of how the plant is operated and maintained can significantly help. Some areas to explore include automatic data collection and interpretation, condition monitoring for predictive condition-based maintenance management of equipment, digital reporting, digital distress calls, digital personnel locating, and digital simulation training for field operations.

From a training and assessment standpoint, some safety measures rely on manual operations and cannot be practiced in operating plants. Virtual Reality (VR) technology can enable digital field operator learning and assessment through the practice of these manual tasks such as startup, shutdown, loading and offloading operations. This element of a digital transformation improves operator performance without risking the availability of the running process.

Another example Jonas provided was inspection and testing. Manual inspection is commonly performed to prevent loss of containment (LOC), troublesome plant assets, firefighting and other personnel safety equipment, etc. Wireless sensors can continuously monitor many of these areas where periodic operator rounds were required. Not only does this reduce the inspection burden on operations personnel, it can also provide early warning to avoid unplanned downtime or abnormal situations to occur.

Other digital transformation areas Jonas highlights include digital logbooks and wireless sensors for a host of areas related to safety. Examples include loss of containment, equipment condition, corrosion & erosion, environmental discharges, wind speed & direction, flammable fluids, and utilities. Sensors and location-based services can also help with personnel mustering and rescue.

Wireless sensors, as part of the Industrial Internet of Things, have proliferated to be able to rethink many traditional work processes and provide continuous monitoring instead of occasional monitoring. From a safety standpoint, these devices can directly improve overall safety performance.

Visit the Safety section of to learn more about the technologies and services to reduce risk and improve overall performance. Jonas also has a host of essays on ways to undertake your organization’s digital transformation.

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