The LaPorte Toxic Chemical Leak in 2014. The Deepwater Horizon Spill in 2010. The Texas City Refinery Explosion in 2005. What do these three events — and other similar leaks or explosions — have in common? Poor communication during shift handover in the control room.
The events highlight a critical step for control room managers to streamline shift handover and embed structured communication into your process. Without a streamlined process supported by effective communication, gaps can occur that create risk for pipeline operations.
Fortunately, there is guidance for how to close gaps. The Control Room Management (CRM) Rule incorporates by reference the API 1168 standard of information that should be relayed between controllers during shift handover. This helps address three key challenges facing control room managers and controllers.
Challenge #1: Communication Through the Logbook
One of the primary issues with shift handover is accurate recordkeeping in the logbook. Based on the records kept in the logbook, the outgoing controller should produce a report on operating conditions during their shift, the incoming shift handover controller should be able to understand the report to start their shift, and the control room manager should be able to view the entire process.
However, if the outgoing controller does not keep accurate records in the logbook, then the incoming controller is relying on misleading information and the control room manager will not see an accurate picture of activity. This example of poor communication will expose your operation to gaps that lead to risk.
EnerSys Solution: EnerSys strikes a balance between the desires of the controller and the control room manager. The CRMgr component of our POEMS Control Room Management software suite includes an electronic logbook that eliminates pen and paper for controllers and includes a shift handover tool for control room managers.
The CRMgr component ensures compliance with the CRM Rule, creates a structured shift handover process to monitor and document activity, and automates the shift handover process to minimize the record-keeping burden on controllers.
Challenge #2: How to Communicate Adequate Information
How do you define “adequate information” in the control room? Without structure and clear definitions, there could be communication gaps if the outgoing controller dismisses an operating condition before handing over to the incoming controller.
To help establish structure and clear definitions, the Section 5.5 “Information to Exchange” of API 1168 provides guidance on the major categories of information that may be addressed. Of particular interest are abnormal operating conditions that should be recorded and communicated during shift handover:
- An instrument is not working correctly.
- A segment of pipe is being operated under a pressure restriction.
- A specific condition exists that exceeds the design limits of a component.
- A potential malfunction could result in hazards to people, property, or the environment.
Without a streamlined shift handover process capturing all relevant conditions, the outgoing controller could miss critical information and respond to operating conditions incorrectly.
EnerSys Solution: The CRMgr component of our POEMS CRM Suite software includes a logging tool and structured shift handover reporting tool that requires review of the relevant operating conditions. The tools allow controllers to accurately record abnormal operating conditions and other appropriate operating information that is automatically included in their shift handover report. This process reduces the risk of undue reliance by structuring the communication about operating conditions.
Challenge #3: Is Your Communication Documented?
When it’s time for your next control room regulatory audit, the regulator will want to tug and pull at your shift handover process. Two typical questions include:
- How do you know the controllers followed the shift handover process?
- How do you know the correct controller completed the correct shift handover?
If you do not have a consistent process to keep records, or if your controllers do not consistently follow the process of recording operating conditions, you could struggle to communicate to the regulator that your controllers followed the shift handover process.
EnerSys Solution: The CRMgr component of our POEMS CRM Suite software creates all of the required documentation to demonstrate that your controllers completed the shift handover process thoroughly and completely. Once your controllers complete their logs in the software, there is no further action required on their part because the recordkeeping is automated.
Additionally, the software tracks the activity of each controller once they log in with their username and password. This creates an audit trail that you can present to the regulator to ensure compliance.
POEMS Software Helps Streamline Shift Handover & Embed Communication
EnerSys understands the challenges of streamlining the shift handover process and creating effective communication:
- Peer-to-Peer: If a controller is completing a long shift, they might not be as alert to complete their log or communicate operating conditions to the incoming controller.
- Supervisor-direct report: If a controller works off-hours, such as nights or weekends, the control room manager might not have regular communication with this controller.
To ensure that shift handover gaps are closed and risks are minimized, we recommend our Control Room Manager (CRMgr) software component to conform to the CRM Rule, automate recordkeeping, produce appropriate documents, and embed effective structured into your process.
To schedule a POEMS demo or find out how we can help streamline your shift handover process, please complete our contact form, email our team at email@example.com, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.