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Author's profile photo Bernd Freibott

Assuring Operational Excellence with SAP Work Clearance Management and SAP Management of Change

Especially in asset intensive industry, and here particularly in process industry, maintenance processes or major changes in the assets have to be executed with particular diligence to assure at any point of time safety for people and assets.

These activities usually are embedded in a broader concept of Operational Excellence. Different aspects of safety management cannot be seen any more as a bundle of functional areas in a rather capsulated approach. On the way towards a proactive and preventive safety culture, more and more enterprises are implementing safety management solutions as part  of a comprehensive concept of operational excellence to deal with the challenges and risks.

Operational%20Excellence

Operational Excellence

This implies:

  • Asset Integrity – Assuring operational performance and maintenance with a high degree of visibility
  • Operational Risk Management – Detection, assessment and mitigation of all relevant risks of the operation, i.e. risks for the individuals, for the environment and for the enterprise
  • Energy and Resource Efficiency – Transparency of consumption with the object of optimization of consumption of natural resource to minimize the environmental footprint, to comply with environmental regulations and to raise efficiency and profitability of the operation
  • Quality Management – Assuring quality of materials and products to comply with regulations and guarantee marketability of the produce.

None of these entrepreneurial objectives can be achieved at a high level without keeping in mind the other areas of responsibility. Operational excellence and safe operation is not a functional area, but rather a kind of neuronal network of nodes and synapses across an operation. It is by its nature equally flexible and agile as it is fragile as any neuronal network. This brings us to a basic question: What is safety? Safety is difficult to define, and safety can only be defined by the absence of something else, i.e. the absence of dangers and hazards. And safety can be assured only in a continual system of responsibility and alertness, without any danger of relapses into complacency. In other words: Safety is a continually maintained non-status which requires to be kept up by everybody involved at any point of time! And the underlying safety management system has to reflect this network of activities and responsibilities, and facilitate it to bring it to a maximum efficiency.

To support the SAP customers in their setup of a holistic safety management with the right tools to assure operational safety and consequently safety for people and assets any point of time, SAP is providing next to the SAP EHS solutions two highly flexible solutions to assure safe maintenance processes and safety during major changes in the assets.

To give an impression of the solutions’ scope, features and flexibility, here two short product videos:

 

Purpose of Work Clearance Management:

Necessary work on technical objects, such as inspections, repairs, or preventive maintenance work, can only be executed once all the measures to ensure a safe working environment have been implemented. These safety measures can include, for example, permits, lockout/tagout, fire protection, and radiation protection.

Permit is an application document which describes the work to be carried out along with the requirements that must be fulfilled all the & approvals to be taken. By using work permits, you can make sure that safety measures for carrying out certain works are complied with, and safety barriers are not taken out of service unless compensating measures are put in place. The work permit is an operational safety barrier to protect against undesired incidents.

In lockout/tagout, for example, technical objects are isolated electrically or separated mechanically from other parts of the technical system while maintenance work or special tests are performed. Work on these technical objects can then be performed safely.

You can use the Work Clearance Management (PM-WCM) component to control and monitor the safety measures. You can ensure safe working conditions for the employees in your maintenance department, adhere to environmental protection regulations, and ensure the reliability of your technical systems.

To ensure that the numerous safety conditions in the workplace are observed, work clearance management must be planned exactly and organized consistently.

Safety in the workplace can be influenced by the following factors:

  • Task type
  • Technical specifications of technical systems
  • Employee qualifications
  • Organization within the maintenance department

If you use the Work Clearance Management component, you can ensure the following:

  • Standardized process for enforcing safety measures

Approvals and status tracking

  • Adherence to legal and in-house safety standards
  • Verification (using change documents and time stamp for changes)

The use of the Work Clearance Management component is recommended in all companies where specific safety regulations apply. These regulations can include laws on the maintenance of industrial health and safety standards and requirements for dealing with hazardous goods.

However, the use of this component is also recommended for the following operational requirements:

  • Your employees in plant maintenance work in a critical environment in which they are exposed to a high risk of accidents. This can include high voltage, radioactivity, and gases.
  • Your employees have to work under difficult conditions. These can include restricted space or visibility, heat, noise and dust.
  • There are typical work-related illnesses in your industry which necessitate special health and safety measures.
  • You must perform some work whilst the system is operative.
  • Effective safety devices are not available for all technical systems.
  • You often use external personnel.
  • Other parts of the system must not be affected under any circumstances.

This component is typically used in the chemical, oil, gas, and utilities industries.

Work Clearance Management is integrated with S/4HANA Maintenance Management. It is thereby possible to consider aspects of safety in the workplace in addition to the traditional tasks of planning work (material planning, scheduling). Not only must the different tasks be planned exactly, but also how the affected system parts can be processed safely.

Purpose of Management of Change

SAP Management of Change provides a highly flexible and fully auditable tool for monitoring, implementing, and reporting changes:

You can:

  • Manage and streamline changes to products, procedures, processes, and equipment.
  • Motivate employees to communicate change requests using the intuitive user interface.
  • Monitor and organize reviews, approvals and other actions necessary to implement the change (for example, update documentation, training materials, or master data).
  • Use customized templates to decrease implementation and adoption costs.
  • Ensure employees follow company/industry-specific change procedures to ensure safety compliance and reduce incidents.

You can install SAP Management of Change in the following ways:

  • As a standalone system with integration to other systems, for example, SAP ERP.
  • As an add-on system, for example, SAP Management of Change and SAP ERP run on the same system enabling the Management of Change application to access ERP master data and organizational hierarchy data.

The Management of Change application is integrated with the following systems:

  • SAP ERP to enable object integration and the creation of maintenance orders and notifications.
  • SAP Environmental Health and Safety to enable the creation of risk assessment requests.

 

The big picture:

Above it was depicted, how the solutions are fitting into big picture of operational excellence. It is very important not to focus on the singular solution, be it SAP Work Clearance Management or SAP Management of Change. No man is an island, and even more valid it is for the functional areas within a safety management system. All expertise areas are highly intertwined with each other by many dependencies and interdependencies. If we want to bring the core safety concept in an imaginary picture, we can think of the Russian babushka dolls, where one fits into the next bigger. one. The innermost babushka doll is SAP EHS with all the safety related functions, especially workplace or job related risk assessment. When a maintenance task requires special precautions (work permits) or maybe even shut down processes (LOTO – log out tag out), SAP Work Clearance Management is as the second babushka doll creating a second protective layer. In case of major changes in the processes and assets, SAP Management of Change assures safe change processes with all relevant approval workflows and obligatory safety steps, and is by this way as third babushka doll covering the others. In all considerations regarding safety management systems, it is important not to focus on singular activities or controls, but rather to do the step backward to be able to see the big picture with all the meshing cogwheels.

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