A proven business critical system in coal, nuclear and hydro-electricity power generation plants since 2005
Companies that produce electricity operate hazardous generation facilities. The industry is highly regulated and safety is not negotiable. All work on live systems needs to be isolated and managing these isolations is critical to protecting lives. There is a strong emphasis in the industry on making sure the correct competencies and skills are used for doing potentially dangerous work.
Energy Isolation and Permits
Owing to the nature of the plant and equipment used in electricity generation, and the hazardous nature of high voltages in live systems the emphasis is on correct management of isolations as part of the permit to work process. The permit to work is the process whereby all the necessary controls and governance can be put in place to ensure isolations are properly managed and work is done safely.
IntelliPERMIT is well proven in power generation
IntelliPERMIT was first adopted in two coal power stations that were being re-commissioned to meet the growing energy demands of the national grid. The system proved so successful in managing the permit and isolation processes that it was rolled out across the entire fleet of generation stations, including a nuclear station which had certain additional hazards and requirements.
IntelliPERMIT is ideally suited for isolation management, even in routine or repetitive situations such as found in electricity generation. With contractors on site all the time, competencies can be checked against authorised records. Site access and exit can be checked against the status of the relevant permit. Because the system is computerised permits can be “aware” of related permits and isolations needed for work taking place in the same area etc. Permits are typically linked to maintenance work orders.
IntelliPERMIT is used in all of the coal and nuclear generation operations of the largest electricity utility in the country. The system ensures a consistent blueprint is applied across the enterprise. Together with FlexiLOG, the system is also used to capture and report on production.
IntelliPERMIT is used throughout Eskom’s fleet of electricity generation plants in South Africa. Eskom uses a mix of energy sources: coal, nuclear, wind, hydroelectric, pumped storage and gas turbines. The utility is the largest producer of electricity in Africa and is among the top seven utilities in the world in terms of generation capacity.
The system handles an average of 300 permits/day with 1000 users. The implementation was rolled out to the various sites using a blueprint methodology to ensure that processes were standardised across the organisation, while still catering for site-specific variations (such as the unique hazards and controls applicable to nuclear energy operation). The system is integrated with SAP, allowing IntelliPERMIT to use work order and functional location data from that system, as well as updating the work order as the linked permits change status in IntelliPERMIT.
The IntelliPERMIT application is classed as “business critical” by Eskom. A quarterly user forum for IntelliPERMIT which brings together system administrators and super users to discuss procedures and best practices. This, as well as regular site visits and system health checks, has ensured that IntelliPERMIT remains relevant and in good shape.
The data in IntelliPERMIT is routed to the operator logbooks, as well as to the automated meeting agendas managed by other software modules within OpSUITE. This ensures that there is good awareness of outstanding permits at shift handover, as well as permits that have been allowed to expire.
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Shift handover is a a critical process that relies on effective communication in order to reduce the risk of safety incidents. The permit to work system must be coordinated with the shift handover procedures to ensure that jobs continue to take place under safe conditions, even when teams change.
Work at height is a particularly hazardous activity which should be reduced by specific control measures that first tries to avoid the work altogether, and then if this is not possible, limits the risk through precautions. The permit to work is an important administrative tool to ensure safe work takes place at height.
The permit to work helps to reduce the risk of safety incidents by ensuring the people involved are aware of the specific hazards, take the necessary precautions and are competent for the work. It also ensures that communication takes place between production and maintenance teams throughout the job from planning, preparation, execution to hand over and restoring the plant to normal operations.