Emergency Readiness in the Industrial Market
Uncertainty, Opportunity, and Necessity Converge
It’s May 21st. Here in Texas, my family and I have been “at home” since March 15. Our two older children have finished their college semesters online from home. We’ve ordered all our groceries online and had them delivered to the house. Each Sunday we’ve been “going to church” on the internet. It’s not ideal, but our family remains incredibly grateful for our health and the technology that has allowed us to stay safe and well.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have passed away and over 1.79 million people (at the time of posting) have contracted COVID-19 in 2020. Millions are newly unemployed, and the picture appears challenging for the foreseeable future. There is still public debate as to the right scenario for “reopening” the economy. However, there is no denying that states are beginning to reopen and that the industrial sectors will play a huge role in the global economy’s success or failure over the next months and years.
It’s a safe bet that things at your site won’t ever be the same. The “new normal,” as overused a phrase as that seems to be, will be just that. It will be new, albeit, not so normal at first.
Here are a few expectations as we return business:
1. Temperature screenings
Most sites inFRONT has spoken with in the last several weeks, are using a medical professional (e.g., a registered nurse) with an easy thermal device to check for fever before anyone enters the plant. Some are beginning to invest in thermal cameras that will check for fever and then alert the security to prevent symptomatic people from entering.
One of inFRONT’s integration partners mentioned that costs for these cameras range from $9,000 to $38,000! There is some debate as to the effectiveness of this technology for preventing the spread of COVID-19, specifically. Most people who contract the virus are asymptomatic and contagious for several days before diagnosis. Some argue that by the time a worker arrives at the site with a fever, s/he has already been in contact with a number of people who would then be infected.
On the other hand, if someone is feverish, it is obvious that s/he should be separated from others who can become infected. Either way, it appears that checking for fever will likely be a new standard protocol going forward.
2. Contact tracing
If a worker arrives for work on Tuesday and has a fever, then it will be incumbent for the health and safety team to determine with whom s/he has been in contact on Monday or over the past several days. inFRONT’s AllClear Unit Accountability is one of the leading solutions for presence awareness/contact tracing in the industry. Whether your site is an AllClear customer or another solution provides this information, your site will need fast, accurate knowledge of where people have worked recently.
3. Contactless tracing
When contractors, visitors, or those in the skilled trades arrive in the operating units, they typically use a pen and paper to sign in. With the new requirement for accurate contact tracing, removing points of contact that can potentially pass infection becomes a major priority. Using your hand on a shared pen and pad to sign in leaves a place for the next visitor to receive microbes (i.e., viruses). AllClear allows for contactless entry by badging into operating units with no actual physical touching of shared equipment.
How many of your administrative personnel will continue to work from home? It’s unlikely that any function will spend all their time working from home, but the current arrangement of spending a week working from home and a week onsite may be tenable long term. Other options, with flexible work arrangements, will be created and executed. In short, we all need to get used to more video calls!
5. Staffing levels
Flexible work arrangements will make it much more important to have real-time, accurate counts of the exact personnel that are working onsite at any given time. It will no longer be acceptable to check the manual departmental list against a printed gate log. During a sitewide emergency, the “muster captain” for accounts payable or human resources cannot be expected to remember if Maria or Ron is working on-site or at home on that particular day. It is not hyperbole to say that lives depend on the availability of accurate information exactly when it is needed.
6. Process change for emergency readiness and accountability
inFRONT has spoken to hundreds of industrial sites in the last few years. It is no exaggeration to say that 70% of these sites still use a manual process to account for people in drills or actual incidents. In this new age of tighter screening, flexible work arrangements, and the need for accurate contact tracing, it is crucial to have real-time information for every person on-site and where they have been. AllClear provides the exact information (site presence, company, last badge activity, work area check-in, etc.).
7. Financial reality
Nearly every industry analyst and most chemical and refining executives are predicting a challenging recovery. Whether due to plummeting oil prices, lack of demand for their goods, or market uncertainty, company after company is announcing reductions in capital spending for 2020 and beyond. How does your site accommodate the need for better accountability in these times with smaller budgets?
8. The “X As a Service” trend
inFRONT has listened to the market and watched other sectors of the industry offer pricing models that can accommodate the trends mentioned earlier. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model has been successful for many years. Companies like SAP, Oracle, and other enterprise solutions make their solutions available on a subscription basis. Just this week I read an article about “Equipment as a Service.”
I’m thrilled that inFRONT is introducing the industry-leading Emergency Readiness platform, AllClear, with the option of a subscription service model. Your company will get all the capabilities of AllClear while taking advantage of a more flexible subscription model that doesn’t require a full CapEx project.
We would welcome a discussion about your site or entire enterprise and how AllClear can help you adjust to the “new normal” in terms of site presence, emergency readiness, and your company’s financial reality.