Research: Owner Operators – how to mitigate the current economic scenario in the EMIA region

As mentioned in our blog post last week, we executed a Remote Work & Accessibility Survey in April 2020 in the EMIA (Europe, Middle East, India & Africa) region. This second blog post talks about the specific findings for the owner operator market – what are the critical challenges when it comes to adapting to the current remote work from home scenario.

When it comes to owner operators, three key findings were presented in our survey:

  1. More owner operators typically work on-site compared to other company types.
  2. More offices and/or work locations are still open compared to other company types.
  3. Access to tools seems not to be a problem, but accessing the required information is a whole different story.

The survey found that only 57% of the owner operator recipients are working from home, compared to 83% of the average on the survey. This makes sense, as the industrial facilities need to continue to run, and people are required on-site to do this work. Given the current circumstances, it is vital for owners to be able to minimize the staff needed on site.

This can be done by a few different ways:

  • If that documentation is available in a digitized format, the team can be provided with web-based or mobile access to data and document repositories, enabling remote access.
  • Virtual reality access to their digital twins can be enabled for remote home locations either through 3D screen-based or head-mounted displays to visualize the facility, or parts of the facility.
  • Improved remote support cab be provided to field workers from experts based at home through helmet-mounted cameras and communication devices, enabling more staff to remain off-site and provide “over the shoulder” guidance and advice.
  • Automation can be heightened and remote robotic “lights-out” operation of facilities increased.

One of the key findings also shows that 60% of the recipients were affected by the inability to access data, harming their productivity. Other possible challenges include communication with suppliers and contractors, supply chain issues and an increase in maintenance and inspection backlogs.

As nobody knows exactly when we can expect to work more on-site and in our offices, here are some steps that owner operators can take to prepare for the future of having less staff on site:

  1.  Digitize, digitize, digitize. None of the steps above are possible if the information is saved as separated documents and Excel sheets in drawers or local hard drives. The first key in successfully having less staff on-site is to have digitized, single-source of information for them to use.
  2. Optimize infrastructure. Enable VPN access to on-premise systems while considering moving key data and document repositories to a cloud environment. Having fewer people using the VPN will improve issues with slowness, while cloud access enables faster access to data independent of location.
  3. Enable digital twin technology. After digitizing information, implementing digital twin technology can provide an organization with a zero-footprint, web-based access to trustworthy as-is facility information to all workers, despite their physical location.

None of us knows what the next months will bring. Still, together we can take steps towards a digitized future where information and tools are accessible, no matter the physical location of an employee. Naturally, some people will always be needed on-site for industrial facilities, but the availability of digitized information will help them to perform work faster and easier, minimizing the time required to spend at the site and allow remote assistance from experts wherever they are.

Stay healthy and safe!

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Adrian Park
Adrian has been with Hexagon’s PPM division since 2007 and currently serves as the Vice President for Pre-sales for Europe, the Middle East, India & Africa (EMIA) region. From 2007 to 2018 he worked in Global Business Development for Information Management solutions. He is based in Sandnes, Norway.

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