Benefits of paperless applications in lifting inspections
Oil and Gas Magazine – September 2019
Whether using leased or rental assets or personal lifting equipment, it is fundamental that there is a lifting inspection procedure in place.
The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) is an international organisation respected as the authoritative representative body in the lifting industry. In order to meet the recommendations that are set by the LEEA, one must consider how lifting equipment will be used and how lifting inspections will be conducted. This goes for the refurbishment and repair, maintenance, hire or end use by an operator of machinery. For this to occur, it is imperative to have a dynamic and tailored inspection solution in place.
Lifting equipment inspection issues
Currently, many lifting inspections rely on categorising and identifying equipment pre- and post-usage. This can involve examining the wear caused by previous operations or making a note of the condition so that it can be compared against after it has been used. The problem for many operators of such lifting equipment is that it is highly difficult to accurately determine how the lifting equipment piece has been used or how it has deteriorated. Without photographic evidence, it is likely very difficult to prove the exact condition before and after use. By being restricted to pen and paper inspection, the operator is also unable to access the history of an equipment piece unless they have done so pre-inspection. This is also reliant on all inspection reports, maintenance logs and additional information having been recorded against this lifting asset in the first place. Another issue for users of lifting equipment is that they may set up the equipment piece wrong for the task at hand or be unfamiliar with using it. This problem is exacerbated by the inability to carry every user manual which they may potentially need.
What benefits digital solutions can bring
Digital lifting inspection provides solutions to the problems via a paperless inspection application run on any mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Using Android or iOS, mobile devices lend their features such as the built-in camera to the inspection application. Using this, it is possible to take pictures of equipment for the lifting inspection and add them post-annotation to the report. The touch screen gives the possibility to make drawings or highlight certain wear or faults with lifting equipment (eg, holes, twists, chemical damage, bents, snags, etc), whilst GPS timestamps are derived directly from the mobile device itself. This means there can be no discrepancies in inspection reports monitoring the condition or wear of a lifting equipment piece.
The lifting inspection application also makes it easier to keep track of lifting equipment whether it is portable or fixed, temporary or permanent, via built-in historical asset tracking. Every report via pre-use checks, maintenance logs or quality assurance is recorded in the historical database. This is viewable for all stakeholders and users with granted permission via a web portal accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. Such access and dependability on the system is unparalleled when compared to regular pen and paper inspection procedures. Instead of storage via a cabinet in a stacked filing room, digital lifting inspections can be based on servers in-house or via the cloud (SaaS), meaning that all necessary information becomes accessible via the device in the inspector’s hand. This, for example, means there is no need to bring original certificates or reference material like operations manuals as they can be pre-attached to inspection reports of certain assets. They can often likewise be attached to information stored via barcode/RFID.
There are also many benefits for management besides access to historical asset tracking and a reduction in storage needs. Management can easier calculate ROI of their assets via analytics provided after every lifting inspection report. They can also configure pre-approved corrective actions that are triggered via the inspection interface by certain data inputs. This can give quick and appropriate solutions to lifting inspection queries that may occur in the field. Many inspections require assets or equipment to be identified and recorded, which means that management and maintenance teams can make strategic decisions long term. By automatically categorising reports after their data, and by making use of features such as barcode/RFID scanning, this can be accomplished a lot quicker than by using traditional methods.