Using Technology to Enable Next-Level EHS Performance


by | Jun 24, 2016

EHSTechnology can improve environment, health and safety performance — and yet 64 percent of survey respondents say they aren’t using EHS software, says LNS Research analyst Peter Bussey.

Bussey presented new EHS research at Environmental Leader’s conference on Wednesday. The analyst firm surveyed more than 2,000 business leaders, including 300-plus EHS managers, and found that companies that have implemented EHS software are seeing business advantages.

Seventy-one percent of companies with EHS software have established formal risk management framework, compared to 20 percent of companies that don’t use EHS software, LNS found. Similarly, 75 percent with EHS software have the ability to identify risks across operations compared to 34 percent of non-EHS software users.

“Everybody’s hearing the buzzword digital transformation,” Bussey said. “But it really does mean something. The digital transformation — cheap computing power, the advent of cost-effective sensors and devices that can collect very large volumes of information and then overall connectedness of internet devices and system — means, for EHS, an all-new level of power to generate, organize, analyse and communicate large quantities of information to make sense of it across the whole value chain. What is means is that we have the chance to have completely new levels of insight from all this data so we can make smarter decisions faster and use them to optimize our resources and processes.”

Four technology enablers are changing the game and can make a different in your companies’ EHS performance, Bussey said. These are: cloud solutions, mobile EHS applications, the internet of things (IoT) and big data.

Cloud-based EHS platforms, such as those created by IHS, UL, Enviance, Enablon and Gensuite, among others, allow users to streamline operations management systems and flexibility to configure the software to companies’ individual business processes as well as changing regulations, Bussey said. They also provide robust analytics and visibility through dashboards and real-time reporting.

As far as overall equipment effectiveness, organizations that have implemented EHS software show a 21 percent improvement over those that have not, LNS Research found.

The survey also found 71 percent of respondents say they have no plans for a mobile EHS strategy with 25 percent planning to implement one and 5 percent already having a mobile strategy in place.

While EHS mobile technology adoption is still “in the fairly early innings,” it can provide benefits including improved productivity, workforce engagement and faster, continuous improvement, Bussey said. “For example: a behavior based-safety program. If you can mobilize that, and get in into the hands of more people, you are engaging your workforce more efficiently.”

By 2020 more than 50 billion devices are expected to be connected via internet of things technology, “so really this is probably the biggest game changer as far as managing EHS and other parts of the business across the extended supply chain,” Bussey said.

As an example of how IoT technology can improve EHS management, late last year Honeywell and Intel showcased a prototype of a personal connected safety system for industrial workers and first responders that collect data from a variety of sensors on a worker. The wearable technology pulls data from a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), a heart rate monitor, and other devices, including a toxic gas monitor, an activity detection device, and a non-verbal gesture device.

While all of these technologies are in the early stages of transforming EHS management, change is happening. And the companies that are jumping on board, both as suppliers and in implementing these technologies, are already seeing the benefits.

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