Monday, 17 March 2014

Mitigating workplace risks in the oil and gas industry

The oil and gas industry employs a sizeable portion of the Australian workforce, and keeping oil and gas workers safe is paramount to ensuring the good reputation, smooth operation and financial viability of a company.

Health and safety risks exist in every workplace, but they can be mitigated or avoided altogether with the right training, procedures and tools. Conversely, when one of these elements isn’t in place, accidents may occur. Some of the common risks in the oil and gas industry include motor vehicle accidents, equipment accidents, fire hazards and exposure to harmful substances.

Motor vehicle accidents

It is important to have in place a good motor vehicle program for workplace health and safety purposes, particular if your company uses large vehicles such as trucks.

Ensure that your company implements and follows a number of safety rules in relation to motor vehicle accidents:
  • Avoid long, consecutive periods of driving – driving long distances and hours can lead to fatigue and slow a worker’s reaction. Setting a limit on the number of consecutive hours a worker is allowed to drive helps reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Mandate safety training for all workers – it can be hard to monitor whether safety measures are being implemented on the ground, so it is your responsibility to ensure that all drivers are trained in your company’s safety protocols, and aware of the common hazards on the roads.
  • Develop and enforce a hazardous condition protocol – motor vehicle hazards are often weather-related. Develop regular, weather-specific protocols for drivers, and make allowances for deadlines if inclement weather has effected your workers’ ability to deliver work on time. Trying to work against the weather or make up for lost time can often cause serious accidents and losses for your company.

Equipment accidents

The oil and gas industry uses a lot of complex, heavy machinery. Operating such equipment carries a degree of risk for employees. Accidents may occur if a machine malfunctions, or isn’t handled properly. That’s why it is vitally important for your business to implement a number of safeguards in relation to large-scale machinery and equipment operated by human workers:

  • No shortcuts – an in effort to save time and increase efficiencies, it can be tempting for the business or the worker to take a number of shortcuts when it comes to equipment. However, all it takes is one accident for all the time and money savings to be all for nothing. It is therefore more important to direct effort to developing the right protocols, improving efficiencies in other areas or improving the equipment itself.
  • Planning head in procedures – this is particularly important for skilled workers who have worked a long time in their role. Sometimes, it is human nature to go on “auto-pilot” mode for procedures that have been performed numerous times. However, if workers do not plan ahead in the procedures, they may lose focus and increase the risk of injury to themselves or to others.
  • Track your maintenance – one of the most basic way of preventing equipment accidents is to stick strictly to your maintenance schedule, repair and update your equipment when required. InspHire’s rental software has useful functions to help you monitor and track maintenance and repairs throughout the life cycle of your machinery and alert you when maintenance is required.

Fire hazards

In an industry that deals often with combustible and highly inflammable materials, there is also a heightened risk of fire or explosions. These accidents are difficult to prevent or predict. As a business, you should take the utmost precaution when it comes to fire prevention.
  • Implement a detailed fire-fighting plan – every worker in your company and on your sites should know your fire plan and receive regular training on it. Fire-fighting equipment and suppression agents should be readily available and visible, and response teams should be on-call in case of an emergency.
  • A fire-safe set up – your machinery and equipment should be set up in a way that helps extinguish fire and not fuel it.
  • Regular fire inspections – as oil and gas sites are susceptible to serious explosions and fires, your site should be inspected regularly, whether on your own volition or by external agents to ensure compliance with fire safety standards.
  • Mandatory bottom line – you should insist on the use of certain essential gear to help prevent and mitigate fire hazards, such as wearable protections for workers.   
  • Control rooms in safe zones – ensure that the main control centres of your company are located away from risk areas such as chemical containers and wellbores.

Exposure to dangerous substances

To prevent injuries caused by exposure to harmful chemicals, you must limit to the lowest extent possible any contact between workers and such chemicals. A few tips to mitigate the risk of injury from exposure to dangerous substances include:
  • Distance and shields – you should provide as many shields and as much distance as possible between your employees and dangerous chemicals.
  • Ensure good ventilation – ventilation is vitally important for work sites that may contain airborne contaminants such as fumes, gases and vapors. It is also recommended to provide state-of-the-art protection equipment if you are working with materials that emit harmful airborne contaminants.
  • Clothing and equipment – providing safety clothing and equipment, such as specialised masks, eyewear, gloves and suits, can limit exposure.
  • Regular inspections and audits – workplace health and safety inspections should be done regularly to ensure that any risks arising out of the operation of your business is detected and mitigated to the lowest extent as soon as possible. For example, an air quality self-inspections in the workplace can ensure that workplace conditions meet and exceed the regulatory guidelines.
When it comes to reducing workplace health and safety hazards, your best line of defence is staff training. However, having the right software to organize and monitor training, and track equipment and site maintenance can also assist to prevent accidents from occurring.

Contact us today and learn how inspHire software can be the solution to the risks for your company.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Recent developments in specialty equipment

The manufacturing industry has been steadily increasing its use of speciality equipment to achieve automated solutions. There has been a recent trend in specialty manufacturing equipment incorporating the latest automation technologies, including robotics, communication software, radio frequency identification and tracking. These recent developments have helped the manufacturing industry increase productivity, quality of output, as well as create a safer and more efficient work environment for employees.

Reaping benefits from technological developments

The trend in the use of automation technologies in manufacturing has set a new benchmark for the industry for years to come. This means that choosing the right investments in processes and machinery is critically important in helping you set your business up with a competitive advantage.

The most popular automation features seen in the manufacturing industry include:

1.     Remote monitoring systems, which enables your business to run certain equipment unattended, with instantaneous notification if a particular machine becomes faulty. Remote monitoring and electronic notification allow for greater quality and efficiencies in production, and give you more time to respond to any mechanical issues.

2.     Hybrid equipment, which combines two or more manufacturing technologies to reduce the total amount of machinery your business needs to hold, the amount of time taken to manufacture a product and the costs associated with those time and space savings.

3.     Software system control tools that combine computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM), identify blockages and hold ups in the system, and opportunities to improve the manufacturing process.

4.     Equipment that uses radio frequency identification technology (RFID), thereby reducing the amount of damage the equipment sustains over the long term. This provides the owner of the equipment a return on investment, and eliminates the likelihood of human error leading to crashes, broken tools, sub-quality parts and set up errors.

5.     Automated data collection that is fast and free of the human error associated with entering data manual.

Moreover, technology is constantly evolving, becoming more compact and space saving. This has allowed the manufacturing industry to rethink the use of their factory and floor space, creating cost savings on energy and resources.

With the economy in slow recovery, there has never been a better time to consider how a manufacturing business can increase its productivity by cutting out errors, keeping its equipment in good shape, and creating a safe work environment to remain competitive in a tough industry.

Machinery management

More advanced equipment does not always mean significantly greater investment in staff training. With the right machinery management software for manufacturing, your business can free up your staff’s time to focus on productive, profit-yielding tasks, while the software manages the state of the equipment by anticipating, preventing and fixing problems and faults and tracking equipment maintenance. By pairing new automation technologies with the right equipment management software, manufacturers can tap into the potential of a streamlined production process that is ultimately more profitable and hassle-free.  

inspHire rental software can offer you a range of solutions to cater to your equipment management needs. Contact us today for more information.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A rental comeback in Construction

On the back of some positive signs of growth and recovery, the construction industry is emerging from the residual effects of the housing bubble and the GFC. With the current slow rate of economic growth, construction contractors have been forced to adopt more cost-effective and streamlined business practices, such as renting as opposed to purchasing construction equipment.

With signs of appears to be a construction recovery, the rental industry has experienced unprecedented growth both in Australia and worldwide. Accordingly to an American Rental Association (ARA) report, the equipment rental industry reached over $33 billion in revenue in the US alone in 2013, largely due to double-digit growth in the construction sector in the US. The ARA also reports that revenues in the equipment rental industry are further projected to grow 10.2% in 2014 and 14.9% in 2015. Similar results can be expected in Australia given the global trend. 

So what is the driver behind the increasing preference to rent instead of purchase equipment in construction? Why is renting a more cost-effective and efficient way of operating a business?

The economy 

With growing unemployment in the Australia, economic growth for 2014 is expected to be slow. This has caused the market to be cautious about taking risks, particularly given the uncertainty in the housing market.

For construction contractors, slow economic growth, market uncertainty and conservative lending attitudes from financial institutions all lead to the conclusion that renting construction equipment is a more risk averse option than taking a loss from capital investment.

The savings

Many small and mid-sized contractors who diversify their services to include mining, utility and pipeline contract rely on rental equipment to deliver their services. The cost of renting is significantly less than that of buying and maintaining new machinery for each specialised job. This is particularly so when you take into account the invisible costs such as the cost of equipment depreciation and repairs.

The savings from renting can be invested in other aspects of business, such as staff training, hiring more skilled workers or business networking and marketing.

The convenience

Many contractors develop an ongoing relationship with their rental company or dealer. This has the advantage of giving them access to a large inventory of equipment, all catalogued, priced and ready to be used. All it takes is for the contractor to place an order on the phone or online, and then await receipt in a few days.

By contrast, buying a similar piece of heavy machinery usually involves a much longer process of research and waiting period.  

Renting also gives a contractor an opportunity to test a piece of equipment to see how it works onsite before committing to a purchase or a long-term rental.

Managing your rentals

Despite the passing of the GFC, the construction industry is likely to continue to face periods of market uncertainty and slow growth. It is important to prepare and adapt your business to the current economic environment by choosing to make changes to your pre-GFC business practices. Start today by changing from owning to renting your equipment.

Effective rental management is not just about an exchange of money and equipment. To maximise the benefits of renting equipment, both rental companies and construction contractors may find that they will benefit from a rental software that delivers fast, accurate and informative results.  

Learn more about how inspHire rental software can help your company manage equipment costs and contact us today! 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Rebuilding the construction industry: a case study

Since the GFC, the construction industry has become a shining example of an industry that has rebuilt itself and is once again experiencing positive growth. The construction boom came about as a result of a combination of factors, including housing prices, low interest rates and consumer confidence. The growth has also seen an increase in the use of specialised rental software for managing equipment and operations, which companies have found invaluable in helping them keep up with the competition.

Markets on the Rise 

Partly due to increasing demand in the housing market, we saw a rise in the sale of new homes in early 2013, which has continued into 2014. Accordingly to the National Association of Home Builders, new home sales in the last quarter of the year increased by more than 14 per cent from the same time in the previous year. The construction industry has taken advantage of the greater demand for new homes, particularly in master-planned communities with several hundred plots of land, to foster positive growth.

The new homes sector is not the only one feeding the construction boom. Commercial properties are another growth area. New leasing for commercial real estate has risen to higher levels in the past year, while at the same time, vacancy rates for office, industry and retail markets have declined over the same period.

An important indicator of strong growth in a particular sector is the increase of employment. Over the past year in almost every region, the construction sector has seen an increase in the number of workers employed.

The right tool to manage the boom

The right rental software solution provides you with the flexibility to handle a wide range of equipment in the construction industry. At every stage of a project, a rental software can perform the following functions:

  • Inventory control
  • Contract management
  • Truck loading and routing info
  • Utilization stats
  • Complete service history
  • Maintenance thresholds
  • Tracking repairs and work orders
  • Maintenance thresholds
  • Reporting
A rental software can even offer you more than these basic features. With the proliferation of global position systems in heavy-duty vehicles, you can now send, receive and store information such as fuel usage, driver behaviour and route planning through telecommunication devices. This allows employees on a project to access all the details of a project phase.

With the prevalent use of heavy and large-scale machinery in the construction industry, it is vital for a business to keep track of its equipment maintenance over the long term. With the right rental software set up, your company can keep up-to-date with the integrity of each piece of equipment and avoid surprise expenses relating to major equipment repairs down-the-track.

Looking ahead for the construction industry

The continuing evolution of building materials and methods is revolutionising the handling of construction jobs. The way homes and commercial real estate are being built has changed even from two years ago.

A rental software is an essential tool in this era of construction innovation. Rental software has developed into the world of mobile platforms and user self-service. It allows customers to complete complicated tasks such as requesting equipment, drafting contracts and completing projects through their smartphones or tablets. With the right software set up, construction project management can happen in real-time with greater accuracy. This in turn increases productivity on a construction project.

inspHire is a leader in providing rental software to the construction industry, with special features tailored to help construction compnies achieve greater productivity year after year.

  • Reporting: get in-depth reporting, with time utilisation and graphical display.
  • Maintenance operations: track preventative and remedial maintenance, maintain an inventory of parts, store instructional and safety information.
  • Support and security: get access to telephone support, on-screen help, real-time updates, single and multi-users, and user training. 
Having the right rental software can help you adapt to the changing construction landscape and streamline your project workflow. Any changes made are simple and easily integrated into a job. Save time and achieve greater efficiency with inspHire’s rental software, contact us today!