Turnarounds in the oil and gas industry are massive endeavors. Occurring at regular intervals, these planned periods of inspection and maintenance are a crucial — and costly — part of the refining process. Ensuring that these integral activities are completed on time and on budget requires a vigilant commitment to safety and communication, as well as careful planning and logistics coordination.
Oil and gas plants are demanding and volatile work environments. The ability to adapt within potentially uncertain surroundings is a skill most workers routinely apply. Common jobsite hazards range from life-threatening (e.g., exposure to explosions, fires, hazardous electrical or hydraulic energy, and dangerous machinery) to life-adjusting (e.g., ergonomics-related injuries caused by performing constant repetitive tasks or sustaining awkward body postures).
Being aware of the accidents and injuries that can occur in demanding work environments are realities that gas and oil workers live with every day. A company’s ability to proactively prevent injuries (and deaths) is necessary to ensure crew safety and the overall success of the business. Empowering plant employees with the ability to receive and transmit important safety and site information in real-time is imperative.
Timely Communication Saves Lives
When a turnaround occurs, all day-to-day operations cease for a specified period of time to allow maintenance, cleaning, inspection and repair activities to occur. To keep costs in check and ensure that regular operations resume as quickly as possible, temporary or short-term contractors are often hired to supplement regular employees.
To keep the process on schedule, these turnaround crews typically work around the clock. While all staff are well trained, some contractors may be unfamiliar with the jobsite and regular workers may assume responsibilities that differ from their day-to-day jobs. To maintain operational efficiency and prevent catastrophic human and financial losses, it’s essential that workers stay informed and aware through each stage of the turnaround. In environments already fraught with danger, having a reliable, easy-to-use, high-tech communication system in place delivers peace-of-mind as well as cost-effective and consistent performance.
On the Floor or In the Field, Everyone Wears a Badge
The Smart Badge, part of an innovative connected worker solution by SmartConnect, helps companies ensure that employees remain safe on plant grounds. Designed to fit comfortably into an armband or safety vest pocket, this device moves with workers as they travel throughout their shifts, communicating critical job safety and logistics information.
The SmartConnect system draws a virtual “shield” around team members and keeps them safe through use of the Smart Badge. With the ability to sound an alarm or share timely logistics information at the touch of a button, workers feel secure and empowered. Wearers can move confidently and freely throughout their shifts knowing they’ll be alerted immediately if they enter a restricted zone or encounter a fall hazard.
How Smart Badges Work
SmartConnect’s independent gateways manage communication transmissions for hundreds of badges at a time. Utilizing multiple state-of-the-art radio technologies (including Bluetooth, GPS, and LoRa) capable of penetrating thick, concrete walls and other reception-adverse materials common to industrial workspaces, the badge keeps dispersed workers and teams connected wherever they are.
Using vibration, illumination and sound, the badge’s exclusive display screen, buttons, and lights instantly alert workers to safety issues or notify them of job or work area changes. Unlike walkie-talkies, the badge’s unique bilateral communication system can be programmed to automatically alert workers when they enter high-risk or unsafe areas, or warn teams to stand down if a lightning strike is detected within a specified distance from the site during severe weather.
When a safety or health event occurs, the system will automatically contact team leaders or managers, pinpointing the exact location of the wearer and notifying appropriate onsite staff. With help immediately dispatched, the system can also be used to instantly reroute nearby crews to safety. Wearers can also trigger an alarm at any time by pushing a button on their badge.
Delivering Peace of Mind and Performance
Built into SmartConnect’s safeguarding solution is an increased layer of quality and productivity assurance. Using advanced data technology, the system constantly collects statistics about work area activities, allowing custom analytics to be generated at any time. With easy access to facts and data, teams can work together to spotlight high-performance areas, tweak processes, pinpoint operational inefficiencies, improve workflows and refine procedures with confidence and clarity. The same interface developed to protect people can also be used to praise, mentor, educate and train them on-the-spot.
Awareness in Every Circumstance
With its dynamic and robust range of uses, the SmartConnect connected worker solution is a vital gas and oil industry tool that encourages informed, real-time communication in the field. The ability of every worker to provide direct, immediate insight into their situation at any time makes active site awareness truly possible.