The increased activity around offshore wind has led to a rise in demand for permit to work management which is capable of covering multiple sites - including offshore vessels, with multiple - sometimes thousands of staff working across many tasks. A key requirement which we are seeing is the ability to have an overview of all permit activity - something which is very difficult to achieve when permits are being raised on individual vessels. The traditional use of printed permits does not lend itself to rapid sharing of information, and in a rapidly changing environment it is essential that the correct approvals can be communicated to the worksite as quickly as possible.
Internet Connectivity is an issue
A cloud-based permit to work system can address these issues, however it is important to remember that access to cloud based systems relies on a reliable internet connection. Coverage is not 100% and drop-outs will generally result in loss of data. Bandwidth can also be lower than typically available onshore, with an increasing number of systems competing for a relatively low and expensive VSAT bandwidth.
One option which we've seen our customers adopting is to situate local low-cost servers on each vessel. These servers are used to provide a local instance of the permit to work system, running on a web server, so users see exactly the same interface as they would online - the only difference is that the 'internet' is being supplied locally. Permits can be created and managed as required and this approach has the advantage of lack of exposure to internet outages. Synchronisation with an onshore system can also be easily achieved when bandwidth is available.
There are downsides of course - you have a server and local network to manage, but it's likely that the permit to work system can co-exist with other essential systems which require local IT infrastructure. The benefits of having high speed access to permits would appear to trump the possible overhead involved.