Digitisation is the key to business growth and evolution, particularly in respect of the complexities and challenges around health and safety compliance.
In the modern world, digital transformation is, without doubt, the key to business success. Speaking at the recent Africa Automation Technology Fair virtual event, Ingrid Osborne, cofounder and CEO at Saryx Engineering Group, explains that effective digitisation is all about understanding and reading the market, while also not being afraid to adopt new technologies or approaches.
She points to the rivalry between Blockbuster Video and Netflix a few years ago. At one point, she says, Blockbuster had over 9 000 stores and more than 84 000 employees, but by simply changing the way we watch movies and introducing new technology to enable this, Netflix changed the market and was able to meet changing customer preferences through digitisation.
“When Netflix started – it started as a mail-order movie rental business – it allowed people to keep the movies as long as they liked with no late charges. In fact, it started because the founder of Netflix was charged a late return fee. It took Blockbuster five years to offer a similar service to compete with Netflix, and even longer before it eliminated late fees, by which time Netflix had built an unassailable advantage in the market,” Osborne explains.
“What this demonstrates is that digitisation is a key to business success. To remain competitive and relevant businesses need to constantly evolve, adding new products or services to respond to changes and needs in the market, and technology allows businesses to do this faster, more accurately and more cost-effectively. Technology allows companies to repurpose their existing offerings and diversify into new areas. And this is more important than ever when it comes to managing safety and compliance.”
Osborne points out that this was a lesson quickly learned by Saryx which, as an engineering company specialising in systems integration, control and automation, and rail solutions, required safety files for every project or site it was involved with. Under the Mine Health and Safety Act, such files are intended to protect the health and safety of employees, to promote a culture of health and safety and to regulate employers and employees, identify hazards and minimise risks.
“The consequences of any errors within this file range from reputational damage to work stoppages and even potential imprisonment. By law, the file needs to be available throughout the course of the project. However, keeping it completely compliant is incredibly difficult since it relies on constant human interaction to work properly.
“We were extremely conscious of how difficult this process was and decided to find a new way that was more efficient and less prone to error. At Saryx, we chose to implement a digital solution called HSEC Online for health and safety document management compliance, as this reduced the potential for paper to be lost, human error to occur or incomplete data to be used.”
The beauty of a digital health and safety solution like HSEC Online, she says, is that it delivers improved operational efficiency and better compliance, thanks to a guaranteed chain of custody.
For compliance management software of this nature to be successful, Osborne recommends that it meet these criteria: it must be cloud-based, be able to create site-specific digital files for multiple clients, ensure digital transparency between all parties, digital security must be guaranteed through ISO certifications and external penetration testing, and it should be easy to use and implement.
“With a digital system, notifications are automated, so the system tells you ahead of time when documents are about to expire. It will let you know when you are fully compliant, or when an updated document has arrived that needs approval. In this way, it encourages transparency and forces accountability, as it is a thoroughly traceable and auditable system.
“From Saryx’s point of view, the impact of our digital transformation journey has been enormous – we have integrated health, safety, environment and compliance into almost every aspect of our business – and are now able to do it for our customers as well.”
She indicates that this includes everything from access control – a no-compliance, no-entry policy – to training, tracking of equipment (including personal protective equipment) and the ability to track performance, record accidents and respond to incidents in real time.
“The benefit of going digital in the manner Saryx did is that it positions us to implement a number of exciting add-ons. Most notably, going digital has taken our business to a permanent state of around 98% compliance. This has not only made us and our people safer, more confident and capable of focusing on the work at hand, but has demonstrated that – just like Netflix – going digital allows us to leverage technology to find a better way of doing things.”
Preventing pest contamination
The international freight transport organisations of the Cargo Integrity Group (CIG) are calling for urgent action from actors in global supply chains to reduce the risk of pest transference through international cargo movements, which can be detrimental to some natural ecosystems.
This call to action follows the intentions of pest control experts under the auspices of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to take all-encompassing, internationally imposed steps to mitigate such risks.
One measure under serious consideration is the mandatory certification of cleanliness for all containers prior to loading onboard a ship, a measure that would have a significant impact on global trade when it comes to both time and cost.
Lars Kjaer, senior vice president of the World Shipping Council, explains the CIG partners’ concerns around these very broad proposals: “We know that more serious risks occur among certain types of goods and from identified regions. The CIG recommendation centres on the need to provide proper risk assessments in defined trades and focus mandatory measures on these high-risk areas and cargoes.”
James Hookham, secretary general of the Global Shippers Forum, adds: “The CIG partners look forward to contributing essential industry expertise to the work of the IPPC to ensure an effective and efficient set of recommendations and best practices to stop the transfer of invasive species.”