Carry It Forward

One of the simplest and most useful features in an operational log is a carry forward note. Here’s an explanation of what a carry forward note is and how it’s used.

Almost any significant operation must maintain an operating record, a diary or chronology of what operators knew about operating conditions and the actions/decisions they made while on-shift.  This includes routine data captured showing evidence of operating practices, but it also includes important information that affects operational decisions. For many, even today, these records are kept on paper and look exactly like a personal diary. Each entry has a time that indicates when the entry was made, who made it and whatever note needs to be recorded, whether about observed conditions or actions being taken or consequential decisions being made.

While many still use paper, others have adopted electronic log books in lieu of their paper records.  There are many, many reasons why this is superior to paper records, but one that’s fairly common, perhaps not present in all electronic log books, is a “carry forward” feature for notes.

In operations it’s not uncommon that an observed condition or temporary operating instruction may affect operational activities for a period of time.  Carry Forward Notes can help keep operators aware of such conditions until they end or are resolved by “carrying the note forward” until that carry forward condition is ended.  Don’t confuse “carry forward” with persistence. Operating records persist all notes indefinitely, or until retention policy causes them to be removed. The term Carry Forward, here, means carrying the relevance or importance forward.

In practice this means a couple of things. First, it means that, in addition to having a point in time to which the note applies (just like the time in the diary entry), the note has an end time of relevance, which when taken together means that the note has a “timeframe” of relevance.  Therefore, when one queries the system for notes relevant to a given time span, let’s say a certain day or shift or week of the operation’s history, any carry forward notes that were relevant over the entire time span of the query will be found – not just the ones added during that period

Many electronic log books have special behavior for their log views in regard to notes being carried forward, or that have been carried forward, so that any notes that are still in an active carry forward (i.e., that either don’t have an end time set for the carry forward or that have a carry forward end time in the future) will appear prominently in their “current” log views – essentially, they are “pinned” to the top of the view and stay there until they are ended, at which time they begin to fall into history, as new notes are subsequently added.

So, the proper use of the carry forward feature is to indicate notes that have a continuing effect on operations until whatever the note’s subject may be is resolved or no longer affecting operational decision-making.

In practice we see this used often for either temporary operating instructions or temporary modifications (TOI/TMOD), sometimes called a “jumper” log.  When used properly, it not only creates a quick list of important conditions, it maintains a history of those conditions and their durations.  When coupled with sign-offs, one can know who authorized or initially recorded the condition or instruction and who authorized the removal of the condition or instruction from the operating record.

Now that you know, give some consideration to how using carry forward notes might improve your operation.