Can Computer Technology Enhance Safety and Environmental Protection?
Just when you thought we had gone as far as we could, now there is remote monitoring and control technology. Did you know that you can have live access to monitor equipment and data in real time from your living room? You can see how fast pumps are running or what temperature or flow rate you have at your flare. You can access live video feeds from cameras and actually see inside your flare station or storage area. Notification of unplanned shut downs can be set up. You can be notified on your mobile device when something goes wrong. The technology exists to remotely start flares when they shut down. Imagine eliminating a three-hour drive to restart a flare. Not only do you save time and money, but you avoid a potential environmental impact or fine. This is cool stuff.
Remember, whatever technology you use or plan to use, make it user-friendly. Most people resist change, and the ability to use technology varies among employees. Generation X’s and Millennials tend to understand and use computers and mobile devices more effectively than some Baby Boomers. If you want your technology to work for everyone, take a slow and defined approach to implementing the use of technology. Provide training to explain what the benefits are, and how to do things step by step. Develop written procedures that can be accessed when people become confused or forget how to do things. These measures will help others welcome the introduction of technology in the workplace. Set employees up for success. Identify employees that are well suited to use technology, and consider empowering them to assist others. As technology use grows, develop IT positions to support your efforts.
Technology is continually improving; this is a good thing. Despite these advances, try to monitor the changes you make. Try not to fall victim to continually changing the way things are done. Allow time for people to understand and use the tools they have. Consider user abilities and develop updates that are necessary or enhance your process. Include end user employees in the technology development process. Keep in mind that technology, in most instances, solid waste industry included, should support workers and operations, and not the other way around.
About Michael Knox
For over 30 years, Mr. Knox has participated in projects ranging from clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO) from military impact ranges to construction and management of waste treatment and disposal facilities. Currently, he performs compliance audits of SCS operations. His experience in environmental safety, construction, and remediation is exceptional in terms of both field and administrative application. He often serves as the primary interface between federal, state, and local regulatory agencies and SCS project teams.
In addition to his work as a compliance auditor, Mr. Knox is a Project Manager in Florida. In this role, his responsibilities include the execution of contracts, plus management oversight and coordination of all field operations; including landfill gas collection systems at numerous landfills.