Building "digilient" workforce logistics in energy and resources

Building

With vaccinations picking up and crude nearing multi-year highs, oil and gas, and mining companies are actively looking to increase operational resilience without compromising efficiency.

For an industry that has lived through three dips in the past twelve years, the rapid destruction of demand during the pandemic was a completely new experience. Many companies opted for mere skeleton crews for maintenance and inspection, resulting in a tsunami of job losses. Companies were forced to resort to various measures, including increasing local hires, relocating critical resources, reorganizing worksite layouts to adhere to Covid 19 restrictions, implementing checkered seating during travel, allocating dedicated tools, and many others.

With experts predicting more waves of the pandemic, the ad hoc measures that were deployed will likely remain for quite some time. Within this context, ensuring business and operational sustainability is vital. And this is where digital solutions can make all the difference.

Building resilient workforce logistics

Several factors come into play to ensure resilient workforce logistics:

Enhanced duty of care

The lines between leisure and business travel are increasingly blurring, with workforces now demanding more of a 'bleisure' experience. Prescriptive travel is fading, with more employees wanting to plan their itineraries. Flexibility and control appear to be the new mantra for workforce travel. While already prevalent in other industries, mobile-based self-booking and self-check-in solutions will help energy and resources companies save big on travel desk costs and contact tracking. These solutions also help improve travel policy compliance monitoring and company duty of care obligations while maintaining flexibility for employees.

Ensuring employee wellness 

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of employee wellness initiatives and the need for better tracking of employee requirements. Employees suffering from post-Covid syndrome would require better care and guidance. Mental wellness is important for ensuring workforce productivity. There must be avenues for requesting counseling services at work sites, and Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) teams must be equipped to track these requests. This also calls for some rethinking on safety guidelines about accessing personnel mobile devices offshore as it reduces the distance from one's family in these challenging times.

Continuous risk assessment

As only a small percentage of the workforce has been fully vaccinated, the uncertainty around the pandemic is bound to continue for some time. Supply Chain Managers would have to rely on 'Just in Time' demand planning algorithms for balancing the uncertainty factor. It is essential to have the right tools in the armory that allow running what-if scenarios to assess the impacts on projects and activities downstream. The key here is to do reiterative planning and continuous risk assessment for a much shorter period.

Tracking vaccination and insurance

To reduce employee anxiety, it is important to have clarity on the approved vaccines at worksites. One option to take this forward is to align with IATA's Travel Pass initiative to produce a standard way to record vaccinations and RTPCR test history. Travel managers must also ensure that travel insurance policies cover Covid hospitalizations and post-Covid care. HSE teams must be equipped to track these certifications and provide proactive notifications on booster dose requirements, if any.

Hygiene management

The pandemic has given a huge impetus to personnel hygiene, with briefings on the topic taking the lion's share of safety briefings now. Additional overheads like quarantine management, disposing of PPE kits, cleaning, monitoring crews, assigning designated zones, contact tracing have added challenges to site managers. All these overheads reinforce the need for employing more robust digital tools for accommodation and worksite management.

Towards "digilient" workforce logistics

The key learning from this pandemic is that building a resilient and efficient supply chain is the need of the hour, and embracing digital technologies is a core enabler. Having been in this space for two decades, we are certain that digital technologies will be the X factor to resilience in the oil and gas, and mining industry. "Digilient" logistics for workforce management will determine how companies fare in this new world.

Author Info 

Robin Jose is a Principal Consultant with IBS Software' Energy and Resources Logistics line of business, based in Cochin, India. He focuses on delivering cutting edge digital solutions tailor made for Energy & Resources companies thus enabling them to scale their logistics operations.

He brings close to 16 years of experience working with major oil & gas corporations around the world, including Shell, BP and ADNOC. An avid technology fan, he writes on best practices that can be adopted leveraging Mobile first solutions for sustainable logistics business transformation. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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