New Technologies Advancing Risk Management: A Chat with WK Enablon’s Sean Wilson and Alwin van Aggelen

35/35   in the series Industry Interviews

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Wolters Kluwer Enablon and reflects their views, opinions, and insights.

Process safety management (PSM) has been a crucial practice in oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing — industries that use hazardous materials and/or are high-risk operations for workers. Process hazard analysis (PHA), as well as engineering and administrative controls for reviewing and managing changes to processes, equipment, or procedures, are a core part of PSM. However, manual processes and paper-based approaches aren’t nearly enough to ensure a level of worker safety that most industries desire.

Today’s modern information technology provides so much more capability, but what should you look for in a solution? Wolters Kluwer Enablon solution specialists Sean Wilson and Alwin van Aggelen provide some answers.

Why is dynamic management of barriers and safeguards so critical today?

Organizations that don’t use dynamic barrier management need to understand that barriers can become degraded, and they might not be aware of the status of their controls. Dynamic barrier management software provides real-time management and continually informs users of the current state of facilities, including whether there is barrier degradation. Barriers must be continually managed to ensure they remain healthy. Barrier management software gathers data and provides analysis that helps organizations make informed decisions regarding the protection of people, process, and the plant itself. 

Barrier management originated in the upstream oil and gas industry. Is that practice now moving to other industries?

Absolutely! We at Wolters Kluwer Enablon work with manufacturing, food and beverage, plus mining and chemical processing industries that likewise seek barrier management. We believe any organization that must effectively manage and control operational risks would benefit from better visualization of barrier statuses and integration with PHAs, bowtie method risk management, and control of work. 

What is the main problem you see with PHAs today and how can it be addressed?

Traditionally, PHA has been an activity documented on paper or through a standalone solution, which is typically built, managed, and accessed only by a select few within a company. The problem is that workers in the field may not receive timely communication and training regarding hazard changes. Most organizations only review and update PHAs based on a pre-defined management of change schedule or when an incident/event demands a review of existing hazards and controls.

What are some of the IT considerations that companies should be aware of regarding the management of safeguards and dynamic PHAs? What systems must be integrated?

A holistic approach is needed for managing where work is performed and the systems where barriers exist and are required. Any changes to an important key performance indicator should be readily visible to stakeholders so that they can take appropriate action if necessary. It’s important to gather all relevant data for analysis, but extracting it from disparate critical systems is challenging. Best-in-class barrier management software can address that issue since it fully integrates with PHA tools, risk assessment databases, and control of work software. Barrier management software also provides a single platform for complete visibility and can be easily updated.

Is there a one-size-fits-all approach to process safety?

Not really. Every company is different and has its own unique major risks, barriers, and performance criteria, even though there can be similarities between companies in the same industry. Your barrier management solution should provide simple configuration capability that can easily adapt to changing conditions and company requirements. It is also important for barrier statuses to be visualized from different perspectives, including in specific site areas, in a bowtie environment, and from the perspective of PHA safeguards.

Learn more about Wolters Kluwer Enablon’s capabilities.

The 2024 AIChE Spring Meeting & 20th Global Congress on Process Safety was held in New Orleans from March 24–28, 2024. Learn more

Sean Wilson

Sean Wilson is the ORM Business Development Lead at Wolters Kluwer Enablon. Read more.

Alwin van Aggelen

Alwin van Aggelen is a subject matter expert in process safety and barrier management at Wolters Kluwer Enablon. Read more. 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Wolters Kluwer Enablon and reflects their views, opinions, and insights.