Industrial organizations have seen major changes throughout their workplace in just a few short months. They’ve gone from optimizing their relationship with customers to transforming their relationship with employees. In this environment, issues such as return to work and workforce readiness have become major concerns.
The following article describes how a comprehensive digitized workforce management solution can benefit industrial firms by establishing a proactive process to enhance the safety, security and compliance of their workforce while driving greater productivity and business continuity to address current challenges.
In today’s world, with so many uncertainties, there is an increased focus on the readiness of the industrial workforce. Industrial facilities are often burdened by interrelated yet manual processes, duplication of effort and data in multiple system silos. Processes such as safety compliance and contractor and access management are typically paper-driven. A reliance on spreadsheets limits data visibility to a few people and is prone to data entry errors and corruption.
Plant owners are also dealing with the increased scale of operations, along with growing safety risks and compliance pressures — all with fewer in-house resources. And there is an important need to optimize Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) efforts.
Industrial plants have a keen awareness of the need to meet changing economic and regulatory requirements so all employees are adequately protected, well trained and remain up to date with the newest certifications.
What is the status of your workers?
Now, more than ever before, industrial organizations are posing the question, “How well do we know our workers and how safe are they?” Clearly, they don’t know what they don’t know. There may be significant blind spots in their view of a large distributed workforce, which can lead to a heightened risk profile and decreased worker productivity.
On any given day, plant operators must answer a number of critical questions in order to be confident of their worker status:
- Is our workforce maintaining social distancing parameters within the plant?
- Are our workers trained and certified to do their jobs in a proper and safe way?
- Are our employees equipped with the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
- Is the PPE inspected and compliant?
- Do workers have appropriate access authorization?
- Do we capture accurate clock in/out data?
- Are our contractors duly managed?
- Are our workers fit for work?
- How do we foster fatigue management?
- How accurate is our mustering control?
For industrial operating companies, the key to success in a difficult business climate is knowing their worker readiness and safety quotient. Plant managers often have a lack of insight into what is happening at the field level. They need tools to uncover blind spots in their operations and workforce compliance procedures.
Can you cope with the “new normal?”
Leading industrial organizations are embracing digitization initiatives to cope with the “New Normal” and stay competitive in the global economy. Their objectives? Do more with limited resources. Create an environment where employees and contractors can perform tasks using proactive, supportive processes. Leverage their technology investments to improve productivity and efficiency of workers through accessible, intelligent data that fuels real-time decision-making.
The trend towards digitization has significant implications for dealing with workforce management challenges and other disruptions to normal plant operations. As countries go into lockdown and industries are forced to rethink their operations, employees are expected to maintain social distance or work from home. In times like these, digital technologies have become more essential than ever before.
Leading automation suppliers have developed digitized workforce management solutions to leverage real-time data and digitization to further the productivity, safety and compliance of employees, contractors and visitors. These solutions can be integrated with access control systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human resource management systems (HRMS). The objective is a secure, web-based system providing easy access to multiple stakeholders, along with visibility and measurability via a “single pane of glass.”
What is the value of digitization?
The new breed of digitized workforce management solutions utilizes powerful embedded analytics aimed at enhancing the context, awareness and analysis of key decisions — exactly at the time they must be made. Furthermore, they employ machine-learning algorithms to detect meaningful trends within vast quantities of data to learn from behavioral patterns and make appropriate recommendations.
The core elements of a fully integrated digitized workforce management solution include:
- Real-time location tracking
- Contractor management
- Access management
- Time and attendance
- Compliance management
- Fatigue management
Ongoing advancements in digitized workforce management bring knowledge of worker readiness and help plant operators make decisions based on actual data. For high-risk operators, these solutions allow for compliance visibility anywhere, anytime — even in the field. They help minimize the risk of safety incidents, regulatory penalties and reputational damage and allow for a significant optimization in mustering time.
Industrial plants can work towards greater productivity and workforce accountability with time-on-site monitoring and streamline onboarding and offboarding of contractors with automated processes and checks. Efficient entry management can promote a faster and more secure access to the facility.
Thanks to digitized workforce management, industrial facilities can also save significant time and effort for HSE administration tasks compared to traditional manual systems and at the same time reduce inspection time for safety equipment.
Experience has shown that digitized workforce management is the key to digitally transform safety, security and efficiency processes. With this approach, industrial plants can digitize and automate a wide range of important workforce-related tasks. An end-to-end workforce management solution can help bolster safety and productivity by automating policies, establishing proactive compliance processes and integrating training into the workflow.