When organisations implement processes to improve employee safety, they fall into the common trap of forfeiting efficiency. BlueCat’s OneTag has overcome this trade off enabling the safe, efficient and potentially cost-effective maintenance of Australia’s Naval maritime fleet through the digitisation of the Royal Australian Navy’s safety policies.
Digitising manual handovers and paper-based workflows has empowered Australian workers to overcome the challenges of maritime sustainment, enhancing scheduling, reducing lost time and improving crew and contractor safety.
Developed by 100 per cent Australian owned technology provider BlueCats, the OneTag system has streamlined the Royal Australian Navy’s stored energy safety protocols on ship sustainment, using custom software to uphold compliance while reducing administrative burdens on maintenance crews.
OneTag: Expediting naval sustainment
Under current Navy policy, high-risk areas of a ship – including areas with exposure to electrical wires and high-pressure valves – must be isolated prior to commencing maintenance work. This recently updated policy implements best practice methodologies from a range of industries including mining, oil and gas. Safety is achieved by deactivating and physically isolating the hazardous equipment with a lock. The key is then placed inside a lock box. A process known as lock out tag out or LOTO.
Prioritising safety, crew members apply a unique padlock to secure each lockbox, preventing the isolated systems from being inadvertently re-energised.
While essential, this process, when implemented using manual data entry via paper forms, creates significant time delays for maintenance contractors and crew.
“Navy has introduced fantastic safety protocols to make sure that everyone working on ships get home safe, but there was a lot of manual data entry required to achieve this. We were seeing skilled contractors and crew lose hours every day just managing compliance,” BlueCats chief executive officer Nathan Dunn explained.
“The process of locking on and locking off created a chokepoint. Imagine, you had one A3 sized logbook, and everyone was lining up to sign-on. Sometimes, individuals could be waiting in line for hours to sign-on.
“There are important protocols that Navy must maintain, giving crew and contractors the confidence that no one could re-energise a system while they were still working on them. But there had to be a better way.
“Seeing this problem, we developed OneTag, an on-premise (no cloud) software system that has digitised Navy policy and lockbox compliance. Now, crew and contractors are able to sign-on using safe, independent, and secure iPads connected to a OneTag server that can only be accessed on premises to mitigate cyber security risks.
“We’ve now been able to sign workers onto ships in minutes, not hours, saving the Navy time and money.”
Under the OneTag software system, contactors are assigned QR codes on their personal padlocks helping them sign-on within minutes at one of several OneTag iPad kiosks, meaning that more time can be spent maintaining the ship and less time waiting.
Creating a digital archive enabling continuous improvement
Not only does the OneTag software system reduce administrative burdens while enhancing crew and contractor safety, it also provides a rich digital archive of maintenance history to inform future maintenance activities, either alongside or at sea.
OneTag provides the RAN with unprecedented visibility of the historic maintenance activities enabling crucial continuous improvement and preventing the creation of knowledge silos which may hinder future crew and contractors’ ability to perform tasks for the first time.
Dunn explained that this will enable prime contractors and the Navy to continually improve maintenance planning and implementation.
“This digital archive reduces the need for crew and contractors to flip through thousands of pages of logbooks to try and identify the origins of a breakdown in the ship. They can immediately access a complete digital log of historic tasks completed on the system or equipment. Hopefully, understanding the history of maintenance can inform an accurate and faster diagnosis of potential cause and effect,” Dunn explained.
This process provides a trove of information to inform and enhance future maintenance activities.
“Understanding the maintenance history enables Defence and contractors to identify efficiencies or anomalies in maintenance by tracking how long specific tasks have taken. From here, they can build processes to address them,” he added.
With this detailed record keeping, project managers can assess the status of priority tasks in real time, ensuring that work lists spanning both standard maintenance activities and priority action items are being addressed once the ship is back at port.
Deploying OneTag at sea
Centred around a secure and portable server, the OneTag platform can be simply loaded onto a ship to maintain Navy safety protocols at sea and continue maintaining efficient record keeping. The OneTag server is then housed within a modular shipping container during maintenance carried out alongside.
“Beyond just improving safety for the crew, OneTag will save our sailors an incredible amount of time when deployed at sea,” Dunn explained.
“The OneTag system is just as powerful while at sea – providing consistent adherence to Navy policy while the crew conduct their organic level maintenance tasks whilst deployed. OneTag enables a seamless transition of the ship from the prime contractor back to the crew after a dockside maintenance activity.
“This reduces room for error and misunderstanding, and provides comprehensive history of recently completed sustainment tasks.”
OneTag also allows the crew to pre stage upcoming maintenance tasks while at sea, saving substantial time and empowering the crew with complete visibility of the tasks that await them once they dock.
“OneTag means that Australian sailors, many of whom may have been at sea for months and haven’t seen their family, will be able to get their well-deserved break without having to be present to manually administer maintenance tasks.”
The results speak for themselves.
“Typically, when implementing safety systems within such a challenging work environment such as maritime sustainment, you have to trade off efficiency with the implementation of additional checks and balances. With OneTag, we have not only enabled Navy to realise the full extent of their safety protocols, but we have saved a significant amount of time,” Dunn added.
Already, BlueCats has received interest from international Defence partners and commercial outlets looking to improve their safety compliance through OneTag. However, BlueCats’ priority remains ensuring that Australia’s naval maritime fleet can continue enhancing safety and efficiency.
“We are not getting ahead of ourselves. In the end, we want to stand up in front of industry and other navies and say, “‘Look at what we’ve achieved for the Royal Australian Navy’. Don’t take our word for it, you can see the results.”