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Your Radios are Becoming Obsolete

The radio is soon becoming a thing of the past. I just finished a trip to Sam’s Club and was made aware of their new program using smartphones. They are promoting a fast and easy checkout using their downloadable app. As you load your cart with an item you first scan it on your smartphone. The scanned item then goes on to a list where it is stored as you shop around the store. When you get to the special checkout counter, you click on the finalize button. Your items are then totaled automatically which gives you the sales receipt. Scanning each item at the checkout will no longer be needed. This system will track what, where, and when you purchased items. Several of the chain home-improvement stores are coming up with similar programs. That is what the future is holding for us, the smartphone is the way of the future.

The radio is an analog system that is living in a digital world. Soon it will become as obsolete as a dinosaur. Smartphones are now common in almost every household. Just look around at all your employees and see how many of them already have a smartphone. The first thing an employee looks at when they get off work is their smartphone to see what information has accumulated during their shift. Why is the smartphone such a popular item to have? The answer is people want instant access to information at the touch of a button to help guide them with their decisions. Everywhere you go you see people using these devices all throughout the day. And why not, they are a great tool to help you in your daily activities. So why can’t they be an equally good tool for your employees.

I was talking to a plant manager the other day that was satisfied with where they were. He seemed to be uninterested in getting better at what they do. He said all the factors at their plant were in good shape. I guess his safety rating was an A plus and had no incidents or mistakes made in his plant. As I was talking to him I remembered what the employees of several companies (that are no longer in business) had told me about their plants. They were not interested in doing any improvements; they just wanted to maintain the status quo. Because that’s how they had always done business. “We’ll stick with what has always worked for us, let the others waste their money on new gadgets”. I look back and see a lot of great companies that didn’t keep up with the changing times. Sears and Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and others have been overtaken by more aggressive and smarter companies like Amazon. These companies were retailers, not producers. It is much more important for a producer to stay on top of technology. Foreign competition in production should be a driving force to keep you improving or you’ll be out of business after a while. There is no place for complacency concerning safety and production efficiency you should always be striving to get better. To quote an old phrase of Benjamin Franklin “failing to plan is planning to fail”. You should always be looking for ways to improve as your standard. No matter how small the improvement is you should always strive to do better and especially encourage your employees to do likewise. Mistakes can be dangerous and costly.

But in the Process Industry smartphones are seldom used except by management personnel.

Here at PITSolutions we have done testing of smartphone apps and have determined they are now well suited to replace the radio. Smartphones have become the tool of today. It can provide an unlimited amount of information to the user. New phones have the communication ability just like a radio. But different from a radio is the ability to view documents pertaining to process safety information at the touch of a button.

Safety documents can be accessed in an instant to give instructions to operations personnel during an emergency. This full access can include SDS sheets in case of a spill or release. Checklists can be viewed by all personnel in real time listing the correct action to take and to ensure no step has been forgotten or skipped.

Drawings of all types can be viewed at an instant when needed for verification of a point. This is especially helpful when doing training and LOTO for isolation points.

Training documents can be pulled up at any time they are needed for review. Right now with the use of paper documents personnel would be forced to find the book in which they are stored. Training videos can be viewed at any time if a question should arise and not only when they are assigned to personnel.

QR reader applications can be used in numerous ways to verify requirements have been fulfilled on time. One such application is to verify a certain piece of equipment is checked on a regular basis which is not part of their normal daily route or routine. Another way is to scan a vendor’s input into the process using their UPC code. This way you will know which of their components were added on a particular day or time.

Procedures can be collaborated between numerous parties with instantaneous updates in Real Time. Using the old paper documents left a lot of gaps and increased the chances of mistakes being made or steps left uncompleted. Management can log into our software system and not leave their living room chair to view the discussion and render a verdict or give insight.

There is a troubleshooting section which will aid personnel in situations which have come up in the past and list their solutions. This is especially helpful to younger operations personnel that may be in a new position. These can be added to easily.

Conversing with live video feed can be accomplished with ease to give the other party a clearer understanding of what subject is being discussed. Photographs can be taken and used for later documentation. Management can log into our software system and not leave their living room chair to view the discussion and render a verdict or give insight.

Process Limits are included in an easy-to-find item search tool. One of the most important pieces of information that needs to be found in a hurry are the limits of volume, temperature, or pressure. This feature provides the latest information for each individual piece of equipment in an easy to view format. This information can help prevent you from exceeding the design limit of a certain piece of equipment.

Our software system is built so additional tools can be added easily as your needs grow.

In closing smart businesses have to stay ahead, not just stay up with the Joneses.

Call or email us for a demonstration of our fantastic knowledge tool at tpcoombes@pitsolutions.io or phone us at 618.780.3959.