“The safety of our employees is our highest priority. Permits to work, risk assessments and access control form one of the cornerstones of our safety drive. ApplyIT`s IntelliPERMIT offers a state-of-the-art system to integrate these elements seamlessly,” says Philip Hechter, VP RSA Operations, Samancor Manganese.
Permit-to-work systems are critical in hazardous operations, in order to safeguard employees and the environment, thus ensuring responsible and sustainable operations.
The three electric arc furnaces at Samancor`s Metalloys plant in Meyerton are among the largest in the world. The plant, which produces ferromanganese and silicomanganese, supplies the local steel industry and exports manganese alloys to steel producers worldwide.
IntelliPERMIT will provide operations management at Metalloys with tools to effectively manage their permit-to-work processes and ensure safe working procedures are followed and the highest safety standards consistently met when permits are issued for maintenance staff and contractors to perform work on site.
The project to implement IntelliPERMIT at West Plant, the first of five production units at the Meyerton site, was completed in November 2004, on time and within budget.
“Our needs at the plant were specific: we had to fill the gap between procedures and what was happening in practice,” says Steynberg van Rensburg, production superintendent at West Plant. “We required a system that enforced the rules of safe work, controlled authorisation and provided visibility of work in progress across the plant.”
The exacting level of commitment to safety on the plant, called “Zero Harm”, meant that buy-in from top management and the production teams at West Plant did not present a challenge. From the time the system went live it performed to standard. User acceptance of the system was rapid and on-site support was required for only two days following go-live.
“IntelliPERMIT integrates with our SAP Plant Maintenance system and the plant`s existing permit process, so that the system fits our business process rather than the other way around,” says Van Rensburg.
Now, at any one time those operating the plant can see exactly what`s happening in every area of the plant, what permits are active and what isolations are in place.
Van Rensburg says that in the months following go-live, numerous benefits are already being enjoyed at the plant, including high quality permits-to-work, high visibility of work in progress, improved efficiency of the permit issuing process, comprehensive audit trails and the fact that permits can only be signed by duly authorised people.
“At West Plant an average of 350 permits are issued per week from three issue points. Since going live, more than 100 employees and 250 contractors at the plant have either issued or been issued with permits using IntelliPermit,” says Van Rensburg.
The next phase of the roll-out will see the deployment of biometric identification, using fingerprint scanners, for the authorisation of permits. At the same time the implementation of IntelliPERMIT at the North and South plants will be completed.
Production management at Samancor`s Metalloys believe that IntelliPERMIT may provide significant benefits in improving operational safety that will encourage other operations in the group to look at similar initiatives.