Operational Intelligence: The ability to monitor resources and operations in real-time

- By:

Courtesy of VisionMonitor Software, LLC

The terms “knowledge management” and “learning organizations” were but a few of the mantras often heard in the business world during the mid to late 1990’s. And, of course, there is the old adage of “Knowledge is Power”.

During this period and even today, various companies and organizations are actively engaged in identifying what they term as their core critical skills and knowledge. One objective of such exercises is to try and differentiate themselves from their competition. In numerous annual reports you will find “…our real assets are our people and their knowledge”. It is fair to say while widely believed, but perhaps less accepted, for an organization to continue its existence, let alone grow and prosper, there is a need for it to develop and retain a certain body of knowledge.

Can a lack of knowledge hurt? Sir Daryl Dawson, QC, found “the real cause” of the Longford Gas Plant accident in Australia, was rooted in the fact that the operators and supervisors did not have knowledge of the dangers that could arise when a part of the operation shut down for a period of time. The consequences of this accident included two fatalities, eight serious injuries and the loss of gas supply to the state of Victoria (4.5 Million people) for upwards of ten days.

However, despite the lack of knowledge in the day-to-day reality of the business world, the commitment of resources to capturing and retaining knowledge is viewed more as a cost than an investment. Shifting the thinking or culture within an organization from a cost to an investment basis can be trying. The following model was derived to explain knowledge within an organization based on the engineering concepts of the “design and operating envelopes”.

The engineering fraternity has long used “the design envelope” to invoke a picture of the overall capabilities or capacity of a particular facility. The design envelope defines the absolute maximum limits of all the temperatures, pressures, flows, process materials or fluids and others associated with the safe production of commercially saleable products. Once the design envelope has been established, an “operating envelope” is then created. This operating envelope can be viewed as resting inside the design envelope. For example, a plant may be rated to handle pressures to 1000psi or temperatures to -40F, but normal operating practice would be to run the plant at pressures of 850psi and temperatures down to -30F. The difference between the design and operating envelopes is typically referred to as the “safety margin”. The traditional thought is the greater the safety margin, the “safer” the operation. In today’s world of risk, we can also view the inverse of the safety margin as being the level of risk at which the plant is operating. In other words, the closer one pushes the operating envelope to the design envelope, the greater the risk that an upset could pierce the design envelope. Potential consequences from such an occurrence range from unexpected outages of equipment, loss of production, breaches of containment or injury to personnel or the environment.

Customer comments

No comments were found for Operational Intelligence: The ability to monitor resources and operations in real-time. Be the first to comment!