Entry management portal reduces risks for workers
Entry management at industrial sites and facilities needs to be a proactive part for manufacturers for companies vulnerable to a COVID-19 outbreak or any other infectious disease.
- Entry management programs can help keep workers safe and streamline on-site operations as some workers shift from remote working.
- An entry management “portal” can be used to establish a workflow process allowing for site pre-entry registration and efficient entry point screening.
- An entry management program and facilities helps companies formalize and standardize procedures, processes and tools that help secure staff.
During periods of global uncertainty, industrial facility owners, managers and operations specialists must take steps to create a more protected and healthier workplace for employees, contractors and visitors. Digital technologies are helping with sensors, analytics, visualization and reporting.
Industrial site professionals need effective solutions to prepare for occupant re-entry amid growing health concerns and changing regulatory requirements.
For companies vulnerable to a viral outbreak within their ranks, this is a critical time to explore the proactive deployment of technologies for worker identity verification, contract tracing, real-time location tracking and other crucial functions as part of entry management at industrial sites and facilities.
Need for a protected environment
The industrial work environment ‒ including production areas in plants where workers have close contact with coworkers and supervisors ‒ may contribute to industrial health and safety risks. Personnel also may be near one another at other times or locations, such as when clocking in or out, during breaks or in locker/changing rooms.
Given potential business interruption and financial losses due to the current business environment, effective entry management protocols are no longer optional for industrial facilities. Plant operators are seeking to minimize risks to individuals accessing their sites and work areas while enhancing efficiency and productivity.
Given the questions surrounding the duration (or even a deepening) of today’s strained environment, how can industrial organizations oversee the wellbeing of individuals entering and leaving their facilities? This situation encompasses:
- Industrial employees returning to work
- Contractors and visitors coming on site
- Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and expansion projects
- Production shutdowns
- Plant turnarounds.
Most industrial facilities have already implemented emergency response plans and management systems and infrastructure to handle a variety of emergencies. However, they face unique demands in protecting their people while continuing operations during a global health crisis.
Many plant sites have not deployed real-time entry enforcement capabilities. Instead, operators rely on manual efforts and processes, which are often time-consuming and may lead to increased health concerns and reputational risks.
Deploying the right technology
Most manufacturers already have business continuity plans in place, but those may not address the fast-moving and unpredictable variables of a complex environment.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, industrial facilities should consider developing and implementing a comprehensive screening and monitoring strategy aimed at preventing the introduction of infectious diseases into the plant or site. This includes a program of screening workers before entry into the workplace, guidelines for exclusion of sick workers and criteria for returning employees who had been ill back to work.
To help industrial organizations deal with issues surrounding the persistent complicated times and other serious safety concerns, automation technology providers have developed innovative entry management solutions intended to deliver more secure entry processes at modern operating sites.
A new breed of entry management “portal” can be used to establish a workflow process allowing for site pre-entry registration and efficient entry point screening. The portal also enables plant security staff to associate pre-arrival details with contact tracing and social distancing elements. These portable facilities are designed for fast and easy installation and can be deployed to meet specific site requirements.
Entry management portals combine industry-leading technologies to support a protected plant entry and help improve the owner’s business continuity, vigilance and response. Delivered pre-loaded with a host of digitized workforce management software, the portal may be equipped to provide functionality such as:
- Pre- and post-entry management
- Identity verification
- Digital badge holder issuance
- Social distancing/contract tracing
- Real-time location tracking
- Digital video surveillance
- Elevated body temperature measurement via thermal cameras
- Entry visualization and reporting.
Administrators benefit from a customizable approval workflow process and flexible request support for temporary or permanent site access. They can customize clearance procedures to address specific business or facility needs, check access rights, log recent activity and pending tasks with one system.
As part of deployment of the entry management portals, in stage one, mobile units can be stationed outside plant ingress/egress points to conduct entry verification and rapid testing as needed. During stage two, business continuity and response solutions can be leveraged to manage pre-entry and build a secure profile that automates identity and screening verification. Finally, in stage three, ultra-wideband digital badges are issued to registrants to track site capacity and contract tracing patterns in real time.
Benefits to industrial organizations
Today’s advanced entry management solutions, when offered in a convenient and integrated portal configuration, enable industrial facilities to mitigate risk, enhance response management and provide a low-risk environment. Benefits include:
- Rapid deployment, with minimal infrastructure requirements
- Efficient pre-entry workflow for individuals accessing the controlled zone
- Compliant and streamlined entry process reducing queuing and the loss of productive time
- Accurate onsite location tracking, social distancing and contact tracing capabilities
- More confidence in providing a protected environment.
By implementing a comprehensive entry management program and facilities, plant operating companies can formalize and standardize procedures, processes and tools that help secure staff.
For example, performing temperature scans at plant entry points allows for rapid identification of people who have an elevated body temperature. A fever is often one of the symptoms of an illness. Identifying individuals who have a fever and advising them to return home and contact their personal healthcare provider for further direction reduces the risk to other workers on site.
In the longer term, an organization’s response to the present atypical conditions can help to accelerate the overall digital transformation already taking place in many industrial environments.
Challenges lay ahead: Protecting on-site workers
For businesses in the critical infrastructure sectors such as industrial plants and manufacturing sites, the on-site protection of essential workers required to perform operations that cannot be performed remotely is challenging.
Recent developments in the area of plant entry management have provided a portable delivery vehicle for back-to-work solutions to promote the wellbeing of critical workforce assets.
Nisha Lathif, global marketing manager, Honeywell Process Solutions. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keywords: COVID-19, critical infrastructure, entry management
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