Mike Forrest, Head of process and Safety Engineering at Wood PLC kindly spoke at an ATMS action tracker seminar – There was so much content that we decided to post it separately to his presentation which you can see here
Right. So I didn’t quite know what the the audience would be and some of what I’m going to say this morning might be something that’s a little bit foreign to you, depending on what how you would be using an action tracker and what your company does. So just excuse me if I do go into some things that you don’t normally see.
When Alan and Pete asked me to do this talk, and they asked me to give it a title, and our former chief executive Bob Keeler, when he was sending around his weekly messages, used to use his knowledge of music as the theme generally for his messages.
I couldn’t imagine ever doing that myself, because my memory for titles and that sort of thing is very, very poor. But when they asked me to do this, one of the key indicators of the success of the deployment of ATMS was the fact that Excel that had been used to track actions almost everywhere across the company, was very rapidly given up and a very famous song by the Proclaimers came to mind when they’re they go through these times and places in Scotland that are no more in the in the memory. So I thought, let’s call it EXCEL no more.
And I’ll come back to that song actually later on, because it, it had some other thoughts attached to it. So it really was very much time to change to something different than Excel, Excel did not give visibility in the way that we needed to, we didn’t really know what was going on across the company. We didn’t know how our performance that closing actions out was and how many actions we even had no idea at all. So this was a real change for us. And perhaps to, to set the scene. I can just talk about, you know, the importance of reviews in what for us is a high hazard industry, in the North Sea oil and gas sector and also in petrochemicals refining across the world
Setting the scene – disaster at Longford
So I’m gonna just read you something from a book here that just say sets the scene.
‘Things happened on that day that no one had seen at Longford before. A steel cylinder sprang a leak and let liquid hydrocarbon spill onto the ground. A dribble at first but then over the course of the morning it developed into a cascade. Ice formed on pipe work that normally was too hot to touch; pumps that never stopped, cease flowing and refuse to start; storage tank liquid levels that were normally stable plummeted. I was in control room one, when the first explosion ripped apart a 14 tonne steel vessel 25 metres from where I was standing. It sent shards of steel, dust debris, and liquid hydrocarbon into the atmosphere’
These are the words of the operator who some blamed for the accident at its gas plant at Longford, Victoria, on the 25th of September 1998. An accident which killed two men, injured eight others and cut Melbourne’s gas supply for two weeks. And that’s come from the introduction to Andrew Hopkins book on the Longford disaster. In chapter three of this book, he actually outlines the failure to do hazard and operability studies effectively has been a key reason why this incident happened and could have been prevented from happening with proper HAZOPS.
The lack of HAZOPS played a critical role
So for those of you who perhaps don’t work in an industry using HAZOPS, there’s a definition there on the screen. But basically, it’s where a multi-discipline team of engineers look at the design of our process system and look through in a structured way for deficiencies in the design. And it could be for a design that’s being prepared for a new system, or it could be reviewing a plan for a platform facility that’s actually operating because often incremental small modifications can lead to a combination and that leads to hazards being formed.
In Wood, we have a set of core values and safety assurance is the top core value. And in there it talks about providing people with the tools to work safely and prevent accidents. And so doing has ops and having an action tracking system is obviously a key thing for us. So that was really just to To set the scene that, you know, for us, tracking these actions that we use The Pisys Action Tracker (ATMS) for is very important and very critical to the company.
The road to Pisys ATMS
So the road to, to ATMS for us how we got there. Some years ago, a client, I think, or perhaps one of Peter’s earliest, maybe even the first client asked us to use ATMS for ACH connection tracking. And we used it at the time, and we didn’t think actually much more of it. And then we were doing the Andrew Area Development Project for BP. And that was a complex brownfield modification on the Andrew platform. And there were more than 1000 actions came out from that project that needed to be effectively tracked. And if you don’t, you know, look at actions and resolve them quickly, and you carry on designing, then you can get to a point where it’s very difficult to actually do things to rectify the deficiencies that you’ve identified in the design.
So it became extremely important to get a grip on that. And so we say Excel spreadsheets were being used, they were proving to be very ineffective. And we needed some quick action to resolve that. So we rang Pisys, we purchased some licences. And we brought ATMS into action. Within three weeks, we loaded the 1000 actions and that was done by one of our young graduates who had just joined the company. So he got that all up and running very quickly with with Pisys support. And we then decided that we needed to look very much more at how we would track actions across the company.
And Wood had traditionally been a company that was a lot of individual organisations across the world. When we merged with PSN, the production facilities that Wood group merged with PSN, that was a company that had a more consistent global view of the world. And so we came into being. And we were looking at really how to manage and track actions across the globe. So we did a comparison of a number of different software, products. And ATMS actually won out in that comparison.
Adoption of the Action Tracker
And so it was adopted, we had a couple of things that we wanted Pisys to look at. And those aspects were introduced into ATMS at the time when we took it on. So that included actually having what we call a strategy or strategic response to actions early on. So within a couple of weeks of actions being raised, we actually expect a response to be provided on the direction that will be taken to resolve that action. So that project engineering know what the implications might be. So for example, if it’s to update an operating procedure, within the design phase of a job, that can wait some time before we get that actually done. It has to be done before we put systems into service. But it can wait. If we’re talking about changing the size of a piece of a line from three inches to four inches and the pipe spools are going to be fabricated in two or three weeks time. It’s obviously critical that we we know that’s coming so. So that’s one of the things that was introduced into into ATMS
So why ATMS? Well, it was it proved to be a very effective tool for action tracking when we used it on the BP project. It provided visibility of the status of all actions to all interested parties, including clients. And so we’re dealing with almost all of the major operators, all of these different companies. And they actually have access into the system to see what’s going on security of access and access control. So that’s obviously important because we’ve got all these different clients. And we need to ensure that we separate their data out so that we don’t have clients accessing one another’s data. So that that was very important to us.
Paperless Approval workflow
And in most areas of the world where we’re using the Pisys Action Tracker we don’t use any paper sign off of actions. And yes, we’re up to six approvals on actions today, so we’ve gone beyond the original three. There are places where clients still insist on signing things off in writing. So we do print the actions out and provide the attached documentation for them. And they sign them off. And it has given us corporate oversight and reporting. So we can see how things are going, where their actions are overdue, start looking at why they’re overdue. What’s preventing people resolving actions in a timely manner. We can see when these studies are being done, and what the quality of the wording of the action text is. So is the facilitator actually recording actions that can be easily understood and resolved?
Improved oversight of actions
So it’s been a real benefit corporately to have that oversight, to see what’s happening. It was easy to deploy without the need for IT specialists within Wood. Obviously, when we said yes, we’ll take it and can you set things up Pisys we had a great response, I’ve had to do things but we haven’t needed to rely on the in house IT team to set things up for us. It was easy from an engineering perspective to to configure the tool, easy to use, easy to and efficient to administer. And it has the automatic auditing and logging. So anything that we change is logged by the system. So for governance it’s great – and that’s one area where Excel just wouldn’t have worked for us.
The key issues for use and configuration for us was actually having a good procedure and a well understood process for what we were doing. So we have these process coordination methods with the swimlanes of responsibility all set up. So we already had this before we deployed the action tracker. And it was very easy for us then to set all the workflow up and how everything would be done. Both running up to the hazard and operability session, recording things and how the actions would then be managed.
Action Tracking across Wood business
So I actually looked last night at where we work globally. We have 20 major contracts project areas set up in the system. There are probably around about 200 active review sessions. But the results of about 200 active review section sessions been monitored. And that involves just around about 3000 actions, of which 947 of them were outstanding last night. So there were 202,177, closed actions. And that’s changing all the time. In fact, I looked on Tuesday morning, and we just had just over 1000 outstanding actions. So you can see people then closing them. And we have over 1000 current active users, and about 100 of those our clients that have access into the system, a lot of them are just looking to see how things are going. They’re not playing any active role. Some of them have actually been assigned actions to respond to and resolve. And some of them are actually part of the sign off process. So they tend to be the final approval of actions. So that’s been an indication of where we are – the number of users has been going up.
Action Tracker Licensing and cost
The key issue for me, for us adopting ATMS was, licensing arrangements and costs, do the people who are licensing software to us understand how it’s used? whether it’s continual or ad hoc usage, the entry cost of getting into using software?. We don’t use some applications simply because the upfront cost is so high that it’s very difficult for us from an engineering perspective to justify to management when you consider up front cost, ongoing maintenance costs and the perception of benefits. We pay maintenance cost for some software without any perception of what’s changing, what’s happening to it. But that’s not been the case. With Pisys, you know, new releases come out regularly and we’ve had some great benefits. Doing that ease of deployment, ATMS is easy to deploy and didn’t take very much effort at all. Access to the system from both internal personnel and external personnel, configurability recognising that flexibility can bring complexity.
And that’s been a key thing – to actually keep things simple and keep driving for that. And developments based on user interests and feedback. We have very much seen that with with ATMS that the developments that have been happening are very useful for us, and the quality of the software. And I have to say that when we’ve had to ring up Pisys for support, they’ve been resolved very quickly, which gives me confidence that the software’s well written, and the people who are doing the work, understand what they’re doing. So that was a key driver as well, for us adopting the action tracker.
Use of Action Tracker for other action types
As we start to use ATMS for more than just hazard reviews. We are using it for tracking other actions. And the sadness sometimes for us as well, looking at software, has been good software companies absorbed into larger companies, the software’s lost. It’s not developed And you know, dealing with Pisys has just been very good.
So that’s been a reflection on ATMS – it has been and continues to be an excellent tool for us and we continue to come up with new applications for it across our expanding global business.