Digitalization Helps Hess Corporation with Workforce Automation

By Craig Resnick

Industry Trends

An Interview with Sten Tham, Area Head for Hess Corporation

At the 2020 ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida, Sten Tham, Area Head for Hess Corporation, a leading independent energy company, spoke to ARC’s Craig Resnick, Vice President of Consulting. In this interview, Mr. Tham spoke about Mobideo, a connected workforce solution Hess is using.  He also talked about the workforce automation Hess has in place to have a more proactive, rather than reactive, approach to workforce-related issues.  This blog focuses on the highlights of the interview.  The full interview can be viewed here and/or on YouTube.


Worker Feedback on Connected Worker Solutions

Mr. Tham said that a lot of different users, from engineers, to middle management, to frontline users, depending on their position in the company, had all given mixed but largely positive feedback about connected worker solutions.  He went on to say that as the company matures in the use of digitalization of the workforce, the feedback gets more and more positive, which the company calls EBS – exception-based surveillance.

EBS and Its Impact on Resource Utilization

Exception-based surveillance has brought about an almost complete philosophical change in how work is performed in the field.  The idea is to basically let the equipment speak to you.  By applying digitalization technology on the equipment to do condition monitoring, a company benefits tremendously because the system is telling them what's wrong.  This enables more effective utilization of resources because those resource are being deployed rapidly where they are needed most.

What additional information do the workers have now, and how is it making them more efficient?

Workers get a lot more information.  Basically, through a single HMI device that Mr. Tham refers as “digital glass” workers have access to a lot more information that they need to perform any required maintenance tasks.  Another interesting thing about it is that once a process is digitalized, the worker receives a visualized display on the HMI device describing in greater detail how the process works.  Once that is done, management can then more effectively understand the demand requirements on any individuals operating within their digital space.   So, companies can better understand individual demands and help to more evenly level the resource load and assign the resources to where the hotspots in the field are located.  

Advantages of Workforce Automation

With workforce automation, there are opportunities to reduce time, effort, and redundant tasks.  The interesting thing is, as a company digitalizes processes and gets very specific about what it is asking an individual to do, the more standardized a process becomes, and the more the company can understand what the impact of that process is, especially in terms of how the process works and people interact.  This also helps to more clearly define work relationships between people.  So, in terms of reducing redundant tasks the more visual information that a company gets in terms of how a process works and people interact helps it to better understand what those relationships look like and reduce redundant tasks.

Does being more proactive than reactive help in the development of new maintenance programs or operator-driven reliability in industrial workforce management?

According to Mr. Tham, it's a journey.  It's not “flip of a switch,” but it is a result of the way Hess has implemented this process by digitalizing the value stream.  As the company manages the value stream, it basically gets more efficient with it, which allows its people to have more time and the company to be less reactive in that sense.  This helps the company become more proactive and start to look at predictive maintenance-type tasks.

There are two ways that the equipment informs the worker about its “health.”  The worker is informed either that the equipment is broken and needs to be fixed or that the equipment is about to break.  This information is very valuable, and as the process matures, one can go from a reactive state where the piece of equipment has already broken, to knowing that the equipment will break in the future and predicting how it’s going to break.  And this is where the use of data analytics helps to initiate that process.

Effects of Collecting Timely and Accurate Data from the Field on Future Workforce Management

Being able to visually manage and see what work is being done helps greatly with workforce management.  When there is a digital view of how the workforce is responding to specific tasks, it is easier to see where delays or hotspots in processes are.  This helps in allocating resources as needed, almost in real time actually, on a day-to-day basis, depending on what the particular circumstances are, what particular equipment is or isn't working, where the process hotspots are, and where work orders to individuals are not clear, which might cause a lot of issues.  So, as soon as a company sees this end-to-end value stream in a digital way, it responds to it a lot faster and can better reallocate resources.  Concluding the interview, Mr. Resnick agreed that Hess has made some great progress with its digital transformation journey, especially with workforce management with Mobideo, and ARC looks forward to following Hess’ and Mobideo’s progress.

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