Operational Logging – How To
Are you considering replacing paper logs? Do you want to improve your operation? Do you know how easy it can be do to so?
Today, we’ll discuss a perspective on why an operational log is important. Then, we’ll share what others are doing to make their operation run more smoothly, and finally we’ll conclude with the benefits to be obtained.
What is an Operational Log and Why is it Important?
So, what exactly is an operational log? It’s a chronological record of the operating conditions, observations and actions taken over time as a given operation is managed. It’s a diary of sorts. It records what operators knew, when they knew it and what they did during their shift while in control of the operation.
In short, it’s the official record of what the heck happened, why it happened – or at least the observable symptoms that were present, and what was done about it by whom.
Some think of it like a burden. “Oh man, now I’ve got to enter this and enter that.” Yes, you have to document what happened. But, smart operations managers know that it’s for the good of EVERYONE involved, including those that make the entries. The importance of the operating record must be acknowledged and driven from the operations management team down through the operations staff.
Why is this important? Because no one wants to lose money, have someone hurt, lose their job, put their company in jeopardy nor get fined by a compliance body. Let us restate that. No one that deserves to be on your team wants any of that.
So, what’s going on? What are people doing in this area to improve their businesses?
They are implementing modern logbooks and designing their operating practices around the logbook to improve communications while making data entry activities as easy as possible.
“But we’ve got telemetry, a historian and a control system.” Yeah, you do. And those are critical to your operation. Way to go.
LogBooks Are For Humans
Logbooks record what the human knows, when they know it, and are used to document what they are doing (their operating practices and when they were done) and what the important decisions and actions were during a shift.
Smart operations managers create practices around their logbooks. This includes streamlining and in some cases automating entries into their logbooks. They want log entries to be quick and efficient, yet, complete. One of the main ways this is accomplished is by creating data entry templates or forms that allow operators to record routine log entries by selecting a few simple choices. This ensures that records are both easy to enter and that the entries contain the relevant detail. Further, these entries take what would otherwise be unstructured commentary and turn it into structured content.
Smart operations managers are also innovating by changing how their inspections (aka, walkdowns or rounds) are done. They are adopting mobile technologies (tablets or smart phones) that allow their rounds to be easily documented using the same types of templates. By doing this, the observations and data observed during these rounds can also be seamlessly placed into the operating log, providing even more data that can power faster and better decision making by the operating team.
All this is combined into a solution that introduces signoffs and approvals so that key personnel remain aware of important details that matter. When you add to this charting and analytics, the value is pretty readily apparent.
I can almost hear it… “We don’t have mobile devices” or “IT hasn’t approved mobile devices.” They will. It’s kind of like robots. You can be the resistance and get run over by the inevitable waves of innovation that come, or you can get on board and be a leader. Mobile technologies are too smart and provide too many benefits to be ignored. So, get on board. We have customers that buy a few devices that are geared exclusively for operations personnel to do their rounds – and it’s way cheaper than you may think to do so.
What we often see is that our customers begin by replacing their existing paper or spreadsheet forms with a template that’s designed as a replica. This is often a mistake because the paper isn’t as convenient as the mobile devices.
After our customers get going, we often see them realizing the benefits of creating smaller templates that can be completed as needed. This has a couple of benefits: one is that they are quicker to complete, two is that their structured data becomes easier to mine for gold… easier to isolate, chart and analyze.
Often, recording facility visitors becomes the next natural thing to include in the operating records – who was here, when and why?
Finally, advanced customers sometimes want certain key alarms and events to be automatically routed to their log. This makes sense, just remember that the purpose of your log is to make the humans aware of the key things they need to know to make better decisions quickly. You don’t want your operating log littered with details that make it harder to see the forest for the trees.
The Benefits You Can Get Quickly
Improving your operating log can be easier than you think, but it does take a commitment to transparency and adoption.
The benefit of a good operating log is that it fosters better communication, serves to reduce risk, and provides management assurance of exactly what’s happening and why. There’s perhaps no other component of your digital transformation that can provide more value at a lower cost than adding a modern operations logbook to your toolset.
Check out what LogBook can do for you, today!