There is an increasing need for staff to be able to carry out their day to day activities remotely from the plant or office, this trend has increased recently with unfolding global events. A growing number of sites have adopted the use of Remote Operations Centers or Integrated Operation Centers to rationalize their expertise and manage their assets.

How can businesses continue operations efficiently whilst physical access is restricted or uneconomic due to distance? There is a need to collaborate, however, staff may be in different physical locations, such as working from home or in a remote operation center. This is a concept that some clients have already addressed and hence these provide good reference models.

Collaboration can be managed using tools; however, these tools need to be integrated into an overall platform so that the input can be reviewed, seen and acted upon by anyone irrespective of physical location.

To manage a plant and carry out critical operations and maintenance activities, information from many data sources in context of each other needs to be available. To achieve this, a virtual data warehouse can be used whereby all applications and systems are linked (virtually) and data passed seamlessly between applications from a variety of sources to provide a comprehensive understanding, making it easy to see patterns and respond to situations as they arise.

The ability to see the whole picture, from both operational technology and information technology systems is a key element to being in control – now even more so when working remotely.

Industry feedback is that information from a multitude of systems needs to be displayed and accessed in one place. The time it takes to swap between information systems if they are not in a single virtual platform can harm the operational performance and effectiveness of its people.