Permits to work and risk assessments should be closely linked. Typically a permit will contain a reference to a risk assessment for the planned activity. The details may vary between risk assessments but typically they should include the following:
Identification of significant risks It should enable the client/contractor to identify and prioritize control measures It should be appropriate to the nature of the work and proportionate to the risks It should be Valid for a reasonable time It should be completed by a competent person
One issue that often arises is where risk assessments are performed using a separate system – e.g. a paper based system running alongside an electronic permit system. In this scenario, there is a high potential for risk assessments to become separated from the permit – so that personnel signing off on the permit stages have no clear visibility of the risk assessment, leading to potential failure of the system.
It is also possible for risk assessments to drive the permit to work process, so where a control is identified during a risk assessment an appropriate permit can be created to perform the required works. Again these separate tasks can lead to a disconnect between critical elements.
Ideally electronic systems should be used for both permits to work and risk assessments, with appropriate connection between the systems to allow visibility of critical information at each stage of the permit or risk assessment. Appropriate protection should be included in each system to restrict access to sensitive information. Clear and strong controls should also be enforced to ensure that permits cannot be completed without the appropriate risk assessments in place.
The inclusion of a secure and up-to date permit board is recommended to show the current status of all live permits. For more complex sites a location map showing all active permits may provide a more useful display as it will also ideally identify potential SIMOPS where two or more conflicting activities are being executed in the same location at the same time.
Pisys are extremely proud to be supporting TechnipFMC in its use of the electronic permit to work system across multiple offshore and onshore projects worldwide.
TechnipFMC is a leading technology provider to the traditional and new energies industry; delivering fully integrated projects, products, and services. The company has more than 20,000 staff in 41 countries and a fleet of 18 vessels.
Don Davies, OneFleet HSE Manager at TechnipFMC, said:
“TechnipFMC engaged Pisys in 2019 to provide their cloud-based Electronic Permit to Work System (PTW) across our worldwide vessel fleet and two onshore sites. The accurate and timely creation and management of permits is critical to the smooth operation of projects we're involved in worldwide.
“Pisys’s team understands the unique challenges faced by offshore personnel in some of the most hostile environments on the planet. We have found the system to be extremely capable, easy to use and highly flexible, requiring minimal end-user training. The system is available 24/7 across all vessels, via our secure internal networks.
“The ability to synchronise Pisys’s locally hosted installations with the onshore system is very useful, and it was easy to activate dual English/Portuguese operations for our Brazil-based vessels.
We have embedded the PTW system in our procedures, helping us enhance value to our clients through quick and effective creation and management of permits.”
A key element of Petrofac Training’s (now AIS Survivex) service portfolio is MEM (Major Emergency Management) training. As the prime foundation for this service, the company’s training centres around the world use MEM training simulator systems developed by Pisys.
Of the 287 courses offered by Petrofac Training, seven involve the MEM training simulator. The simulator based courses use almost 40 control room configuration models, enabling simulation of command & control environments as diverse as oil terminals and semi-submersibles, wind farms and FPSOs. Over 2000 delegates are accredited annually from this training.
The MEM training simulator
The Pisys MEM training simulator features a set of computer screens that visually mimic the “real world” screens found in the control room of any rig or platform. Individual screens show continuously updated graphical representations of key systems and processes. They also feature aspects such as power generation and fire & gas monitoring.
By simulating the various types of emergency that might arise, the system provides staff with the competencies they require in order to co-ordinate the appropriate responses. Trainees in the simulation control room direct operations by talking directly to individual members of the emergency response team in a mock-up of the physical plant environment. Simultaneously, CCTV simulation enables the trainees to watch events in real time as they unfold through to a successful conclusion.
Better than classroom-style training
Ray Allen, Pisys Director responsible for the Petrofac relationship, explains the benefit of this approach to training: “Simulation delivers much more effective learning than classroom-style training. That’s due to the higher degree of interactivity, but also the realistic scenario playing you get from re-creating environments such as offshore platforms, FPSOs, jack-up drilling rigs and semisubmersible drilling rigs”.
Birth of the MEM Training simulator
When the forerunner of Petrofac Training approached Pisys in the late 1990s,control room training for oil & gas sector operations was largely paper-based. As a means of preparing staff for dealing with life-and- death situations, it was shockingly primitive. Fortunately, Petrofac’s legacy business saw a better way. Trevor Riley, Head of Quality, Competence & Standards for Petrofac’s Emergency Response & Crisis Management operations, recalls: “Working with bits of paper as your training media might be cost efficient but it isn’t really acceptable nowadays. Back in the 90s, however, there wasn’t much of an alternative and it occurred to us that there was a gap in the market. The opportunity was to provide training with a situational awareness element that wasn’t available on a cost effective basis in the oil & gas industry at the time. But as a training company, we needed a partner specializing in IT systems to realize our vision. So we asked around locally, and the path of recommendations led us to Pisys”.
Considering Flight Simulator Technology
He continues: “As part of our research we visited RAF Leuchars and observed the Tornado flight simulator there. It met all our needs but there was one catch - simulation was still a mainframe game. A system like the Leuchars simulator was a major capital investment – a non-starter for our purposes. So we told Pisys we wanted real-time event simulation at an affordable price. And we worked together from there to crack the challenge”.
Ray Allen takes up the story: “As far as I know, the system we developed was the only PC-based simulator on the market at the time. It was a quantum leap, and it provided what the offshore guys wanted: something easy to use, and specific to companies’ own operations – e.g. raising flow valves on a particular rig”.
MEM Training Simulator - Improved Flexibility and Usability
In 2012, Petrofac upgraded to Pisys' new generation MEM training simulator. The benefits? Greatly improved flexibility of operation and enhanced media capability – such as the ability to run videos of e.g. CCTV footage. Complementing the enhancement of the simulation engine was the process of migrating Petrofac’s 40-strong suite of simulation models. These replicated the features and appearance of operational assets such as gas terminals and jack-up rigs. According to Trevor Riley, Pisys’ new simulator is an improvement on its predecessor: “The system is robust. I can’t think of a single MPTS system crash. It was also designed to be simple to modify, and the new drag and drop facility makes it easy to modify. On top of that, the Pisys system is cost effective to operate in comparison to a full scale process simulator.
Business Efficiency Benefits
Trevor is also keen to emphasize the business efficiency benefits of the simulator: “The beauty of the Pisys system is that everything is instantaneous. That’s because it contains the cause & effect database for each of our client companies. So you don’t have to look up other sources mid-training session to find out, for example, in what situations you have to hit the shutdown button. And having the cause & effect database embedded in the simulator also saves the instructor’s time getting to know the client’s system”.
The Petrofac/Pisys relationship
Petrofac now operate around 14 Pisys simulator systems round the world, with Pisys providing 24/7 technical support from Aberdeen. Ray Allen comments: “We get support calls from as far afield as Kuala Lumpur and Louisiana, and from time to time these turn into requirements for new simulation models”. He expands: “Our close relationship with Petrofac makes it very easy for us to respond to requests for new models. By the nature of these things, for example, there are sometimes gaps in the material we’re supplied with. But because the two companies know and trust each other, we’re able to make reasonable assumptions and continue developing the model. In a situation where the customer and supplier were less well aligned, it would cause delays. But we simply don’t have that problem”.
“Pisys have been really good”, adds Trevor Riley from Petrofac’s perspective. “They are straightforward to work with, and they stick at it when necessary. Also, to ensure that we keep on track with regard to things like ongoing developments, upcoming requirements and support call patterns. We hold diarised meetings every few months. All in all, it’s an arrangement that works very well”.
The Proof of the Pudding
When Trevor looks back on the Pisys relationship and the decision to deploy Pisys training simulators worldwide, what are his thoughts?. “The proof of the pudding is that the Pisys simulators are still being used many years after they were first introduced. They are still being operated to the same level of fidelity, but there is also continued development. One of the strengths of the Pisys system is that it is easy to change it, add to it, and improve it."
Wood is the largest provider of brownfield services to the oil and gas industry, specialising in process, safety and environment; instrument and controls, electrical, structural, civil, and mechanical and piping. The company had a well-defined process for HAZOPs already but came across action tracking Issues when they took on a new oilfield development project for a large operator.
When companies decide to adopt it, action tracking is invariably a “need to do”, rather than a “nice to have”. Especially when safety and legislative drivers are in play.
In Wood’s case, the imperative was HAZOP tracking. Mike Forrest, Wood’s UK Head of Process and Safety Engineering, explains: “With HAZOP and HAZID actions, you need to close the loop, you need the actions to be visible to multiple people, and you need to see where you are with all the actions. Reducing risk is what underpins it, because where there are high hazard risks – as with Piper Alpha – you could lose the whole platform”.
Pete Henderson, the Pisys Director responsible for the Wood relationship, comments: “Wood already had a well-defined process for HAZOP tracking. But there were all sorts of local systems around the Group. In many situations, people were attempting to track actions using a spreadsheet or even individual emails. As there was no means for central reporting, no-one could see everything to do with actions in one place. And inevitably there was a general lack of accountability”.
Action Tracking Challenges
HAZOP action tracking was done via spreadsheet or even individual emails. There was:
No means for central reporting
No central place to save actions and view their status
A lack of accountability.
The company needed a system where:
Actions were closed out consistently and in a timely manner
Actions were visible to all personnel involved
The status of an action was clearly visible.
Wood adopted Pisys Action Tracking for HAZOPs.
Pisys customized the system to provide:
Added capability for handling multi-level approvals
Consolidated reporting across multiple contracts
A strategic response function, giving project engineers early insight into potential design changes so they could consider the implications in terms of cost and schedule
The action tracker was rolled out first in the UK, then worldwide
“The trigger point for Wood was when we took over an oilfield development project for a large operator. We quickly found HAZOP tracking issues, and I knew straight away that we needed a system. The company’s ongoing ability to operate its fleet depends critically on the company’s tracking and recording of incidents and accidents” said Mike.
Mike acted quickly: “Two weeks later, we installed Pisys ATMS Action Tracking System. I’d seen it in action with another Oil & Gas Major a few years previously. I’d been sufficiently impressed that we just went straight to Pisys when we realised that things were in a muddle”.
Configuration and Global Rollout
According to Mike Forrest, the action tracker’s subsequent success was not a foregone conclusion: “We invited commercial tenders a couple of months later, and evaluated one other system as well as ATMS. The other system was highly flexible, but ultimately our preference was for a more straightforward system. And we knew Pisys ATMS would do the job.
Added to that, Pisys were able to demonstrate how to set up a HAZOP very easily”.
The project, conceived from the outset as a global rollout, commenced in late 2013 with a 2-month configuration phase in which Pisys made modifications to meet Wood’s requirements –notably:
Adding capability for handling supplementary approvals, sign-offs and signatures;
Enabling ATMS to provide consolidated reporting across multiple contracts;
Incorporating a strategic response function, which gives project engineers early insight into potential design changes, to understand the implications in terms of cost and schedule.
Over the course of 2014, ATMS was rolled out across the UK, and then around the world.
Pete Henderson comments: “The first ATMS installation for Wood was for BP’s Andrew Area Development Project, which at that time was the largest project in Aberdeen.
Now we have 700 users across 30 different Wood projects. In the UK alone, ATMS is now used in Wood’s contracts with BP, CNR, Enquest, Total, Taqa, Talisman and BG It is also deployed where Wood is acting as dutyholder – notably for Centrica, Ithaca and Dana”.
Mike Forrest interjects: “The system has been taken up in both Australia and Kazakhstan, and there are several thousand more users who could potentially come onto the system in other regions of the world.
The system has been hosted by Pisys all through the rollout, and it’ll remain that way because that’s what’s most convenient for Wood”.
Action Tracking - Fit for Purpose
Mike’s confidence in ATMS is evident from the fact that he went straight to Pisys as soon as he had a critical need on his hands. But is there real evidence that ATMS fits the bill?
Mike believes so: “Well, I can tell you that the Pisys system is pretty good for what we want it for.
I can also tell you that it’s robust, it’s efficient, and it makes the whole business of tracking actions more visible than it could ever be in spreadsheets.
On top of that, I get the sense that it is very well structured. And from many years of procuring and using software, I know that strong structure in software means it’s likely to be easier to maintain as well as more robust”.
He continues: “But my opinion counts for nothing unless the system actually does its job. Which it does. We don’t have to force our engineers to use ATMS, because it is obviously beneficial to them. People can see a response to an action, and they can see that actions are being worked on.
In addition, managers can see both the numbers of outstanding actions and also the overdue actions. That gives them assurance oversight”
A system that fits the way we work
How would Mike advise a colleague in another company who is considering a system for action tracking?
“I’d suggest that they think twice before going for a big system with limitless flexibility. Because flexibility usually means complexity. And no-one wants to struggle with IT complexities instead of getting on with the job!
Other systems dictate that users do things that just aren’t convenient – like having to prepare and submit responses all in one batch. But ATMS is the other way round. Our users love it, because it fits the way they work”.
Support Performance from Pisys
Another common wisdom in the world of IT is that any software system is only as reliable as the underlying support.
Is Mike’s confidence in ATMS matched by his belief in its backup team?
“Pisys are very responsive. Their support is inclusive in the fee, and the way they react is spot on. Especially in comparison to some other companies, they are very good indeed”.
Mike is keen to emphasise the reliability of Pisys support, irrespective of the origin of the problem: “Daily use of a system like this means that mistakes will happen – like putting actions in the wrong way. Because of ATMS’s audit trail and lock-down functionality, certain types of error can’t be undone by users. That’s quite deliberate, and it even applies to Wood’s ultimate system administrator – me. But that’s never a problem, because Pisys will always apply a fix within a day–even for bulk errors”.
Beyond the Global Rollout
Asked how they see the relationship between Wood and Pisys developing in the future, both Mike and Pete refer to the ongoing global rollout – Pete in terms of additional users, and Mike in terms of further countries.
Pete also refers to other systems that Wood have asked Pisys to develop, such as a strategic maintenance management tool.
Mike picks up the theme: “People have seen how Pisys go about their work, and they’ve been impressed enough to ask what else they can do. And we now have other areas of Wood looking at ATMS for completely different operations whose existing action tracking systems are just not as good as ATMS. Such as commercial and business functions.
“Take, for example, ATMS’s automatic emailing of approvals and reminders to the relevant individuals. Anyone who’s used that facility will tell you it’s indispensable – it’s one of the main things that ensures that things get done. But it’s just not there in other systems. That’s why we’re now looking at extending the Pisys system to grade and monitor business risks: moving towards tracking everything under one umbrella.”
It Takes Two
One thing that’s very clear from the way Mike Forrest talks is that successful software deployment isn’t just about software.
The quality of the service provider – and of the relationship between the client and supplier teams –is also key:
“One of ATMS’s strengths is how easily our users can configure and manage it. Its set-up is directly influenced by Wood engineers, and we’ve been able to work with Pisys to get the changes that the engineers asked for. That’s how we reached the happy position where they’ve got the system they want”.
Pete Henderson is quick to highlight Wood’s contribution to the relationship’s success: “Yes – we work well together. But the best service provider in the world will struggle to sustain a good client/supplier relationship if the customer’s behaviour doesn’t favour a successful project. We have regular communication with the Wood team, and we find them proactive and involved. To give an example, they email Pisys regularly on aspects of the usability of the system. They’re always constructive, and it’s invariably in the spirit of working together towards common goals”.
The Pisys Action Tracker
Pisys ATMS is designed to track actions relating to a given project or organisation. It essentially enables actions to be recorded, managed and reported upon, and it is particularly strong in situations where:
Multiple people are involved in review and sign-off of actions
Close-out of actions is critical
Having an audit trail is mandatory (e.g. for projects involving HAZOP, technical assurance or project delivery assurance)
Companies gaining particular benefit from this type of system include those employing large teams of people, or deploying teams on large projects. With a global base of around 3,600 users, ATMS is especially strong in:
Situations involving multiple organisations and locations
Complex projects generating large numbers of actions requiring active management.
ATMS provides a very quick overview of action status regardless of the size or complexity of the project.
Our client wanted to know which hot work permits had been completed and closed out safely. They also wanted an overview of the ongoing work at their facilities across the UK without being there (due to COVID restrictions)
The Permit to work system allowed easy attachment of images to the permits as proof of safe completion.
“ Having instant visibility of all work packets taking place from one central location across six feed mills up and down the country has dramatically changed the way in which we govern compliance ”
'We are a medium sized feed milling company providing high quality poultry feed to the farming industry. We currently employ around 300 people at six sites across the UK. We run five feed mills and one extrusion plant, which differ in size from fairly small with only one production line and a couple of grain silos to our largest site which has four production lines, multiple storage areas, silos, engineering teams and transport departments. The sites run 24/7 to provide enough feed to the poultry rearing industry to allow us to be a critical part of the UK food chain. In 2020, we decided that we needed to move away from ourpaper permit to work system.
We decided that a cloud-based E-permit system would suit our purposes and one of the first companies we looked at was Pisys. After a couple of demonstrations to our engineering teams and mill managers, it became clear that the Pisys Permit to Work system would deliver what we were looking for and within budget.
Above all, we were looking for a system that was user friendly and easy to pick up or teach. The system had to be adaptable, and we found that the Pisys system was exactly that. We have updated our own version three times since installing and have created a POWRA (Point of Work Risk Assessment) from scratch using one of the unused panels within the system. This means that work can be thoroughly assessed by our engineers and mill staff outside of work hours If the job isn’t a routine task.
Permit To Work software meets regulation and compliance requirements
From a compliance and regulation point of view, our company is in a much better position than it was. We have tied in the company list embedded within the permit system with our approved vendor list. This means that permits cannot be issued to contractors that are not on the system. This gives us a level of control over our contractor management that we never had before. Stopping a permit being issued if safety criteria is not met or because a contractor isn’t cleared onto our approved list is a great way to improve site safety and ensure compliance.
Permit Plot Plans
Most of our larger sites now have a ‘plot plan map’ showing where permits are active. This is another huge benefit over our old paper system. It is easy to see at a glance if a task is already being carried out in an area. This is essential for work deconfliction where one task could potentially impact on another.
Remote access to permits
Having instant visibility of all work packets taking place from one central location across six feed mills up and down the country has changed the way in which we govern compliance dramatically. Being able to scrutinise a work permit remotely to ensure that our colleagues are completing them fully and accurately is a great way to spot where someone might need extra coaching in safety procedures. Overall, I would say that this system has moved our company forward a long way in a few very key areas.'
One of the world's largest healthcare facilities operators kindly gave us their feedback after adopting the electronic permit to work system:
'We`re happy we`ve found an easy to use intuitive system for both front line staff and administration allowing us to make required alterations to control risks on site as they present themselves and improve our compliance control for internal and external auditing'
Better management control We decided to migrate from a paper based PTW to an Electronic PTW system in 2020 to improve our auditing capabilities, improve resource usage, provide more managerial oversight and tighten our health and safety control of contractors in our acute healthcare environments.
Most user friendly, easiest to adapt existing process After meeting with several providers we decided to go with the Pisys system as it presented the most user friendly model allowing us to keep our existing layouts while implementing ongoing improvement carried out by our own internal team.
Great help from Pisys before we bought We initially met with Pisys to ensure we had the correct product for our needs and were provided great technical support all the way through setup and launch at over 100 facilities across the UK.
A huge help during Covid Since launch we`ve made several changes to ensure our PTW covers all the new requirements of COVID safety in Healthcare along with various user friendly improvements for front line staff and managers. Every step of the way has been made easy and hassle free with quick and efficient support from Nick and the technical support team. We`re now able to capture COVID safety questionnaires, results of lateral flow and PCR testing and issue permits remotely to contractors working outside of normal hours and at remote sites. This has led to greater safety for our staff and patients with several examples of visiting contractors not meeting Covid safety requirements and being rescheduled for when their risks are controlled.
Front line staff like it We saw a large increase in permit volumes in the weeks & months after launch proving how user friendly the system is for front line staff, improving both our H&S controls and compliance across all sites. Our contractors have fully bought into the system with very positive feedback on how quick and efficient the process is compared to the old paper based permits.
Global food ingredients manufacturer’s EHS Compliance Manager says “I would recommend Pisys PTW to anyone who requires a paperless, auditable permit to work system that’s so easy to use”
'We initially started looking for an electronic permit to work system to cut down on paperwork, remove the need for filing permits for our audit system and reducing the risk of handling / signing permit paperwork with high numbers of maintenance employees and contractors due to Covid 19. We decided to run a trial with the Pisys system, which was very successful and we found it to be a very user friendly program with excellent traceability of previous permits and live permits across our site. Whilst on the trial and to date we`ve received excellent support from all of the team at Pisys'
We asked this civil engineering giant about their experience in using Pisys PTW to manage an NHS Hospital healthcare complex.
Why did you need an electronic Permit to Work system? We have a dynamic and constantly evolving business model and we needed a flexible electronic PTW which coped with ever increasing compliance and client demands along with a need to stream line the process in a more time efficient manner to free up operatives.
What were the main requirements and features you were looking for We were looking for a system that adhered to ISO27001 to comply with company and client protocols, was remotely accessible and had the ability to customise to site requirements. We required the system to have numerous users with varying degrees of access and control over the issuing of permits. Working in the Health Care industry we also required a user friendly, intuitive system that is easily auditable by internal and external auditors.
How did you engage with Pisys? My first point of contact was with Allan Sutherland who made the whole demonstration and purchasing process simple and efficient. Allan and his colleagues walked us through the process and has always been on hand since completion to assist with quires and upgrades.
Can you describe how you have implemented, and used Pisys Permit To Work Our implementation of Pisys has involved engaging with sub contractors to send in details and RAMS of works in advance so permits can be created by supervisors and issued by appropriate engineers on day of works. This enables us to send completed electronic copies of the PTW to the operative carrying out the works, the client and any other relevant parties ensuring all have knowledge of on going live works. As part of the implementation Pisys digitised 2000 rooms and work areas which gives us excellent visualisation of jobs in progress The types of permits we are currently utilising are general permit to work, hot works and working at height. Another advantage of Pisys is when a hot works permit is carried out we can send an electronic copy to the clients fire officer COVID risk- thanks to Pisys we have been able to have a decreased presence on site without having a decrease in work output simply because Permits can be raised and created by appropriate people off site and checked and issued by people on site. Along with there being no physical contact with the platform being electronic our Covid risk has greatly reduced keeping ourselves and our clients safer.
How has the solution benefited you, your company, clients etc The benefit to our company is we are now more time efficient, greater level of compliance and auditability and a lowered carbon footprint. As a user and permit issuer Pisys has allowed me to achieve a greater level of time management efficiency along with the ability to monitor permits whilst anywhere on site using a tablet. Our client has benefited with a more robust, traceable and concise form of permitting.
How would you summarise the solution and working with Pisys? Efficiency and compliance increased with risk and carbon footprint drastically decreased
This is the unedited statement of the main user of Pisys Permit to Work who had the system up and running in a matter of days. It has been especially useful during the Covid lockdown whether he has share the app over Teams with contractors to complete permit issue, hand back and sign-off remotely.
After being tasked to find and implement something to replace our dated paper based permit to work system, I did some research and found the Pisys website. I found their website very informative and compared to other solutions, they didn’t require contact details just to see a demonstration.
I was impressed with what I saw and decided to get in touch with them. I had a reply almost instantly. We had a quick conversation where I described the things I was looking for, and Pisys were able to provide nearly everything I was looking for. We arranged an MS Teams meeting so that the site stakeholders could see the demonstration and to meet the guys at Pisys, that went well, and we progressed to a hosted trial for our site. The steps required to get the trial up and running were explained clearly, and it allowed us to have a temporary solution up and running in very little time.
One of our requirements was to have the solution hosted onsite, again no problem, every step of the installation was straightforward and the support I received was perfect.
Now that we have the Pisys solution, we can have a paperless, auditable permit to work system that is a pleasure to use. During the Covid lockdown, we have been able to host a Teams meeting and go through the completion of a permit with a contractor whilst still maintaining social distancing. This method still allows for a meaningful conversation to take place without the pressure of needing to be too close to each other.
We have gone from a system that could take a while to complete causing delays in getting work done, to now having a solution that saves time, is auditable, user friendly and gives indication where work is being undertaken around the site therefore improving site safety. The feedback from contractors has been positive and they have been happy to use it when they come to site
All in all, I have found that my experiences of working with Pisys a great one, and look forward to the continued relationship we have.