Control of Work

Control of Work (COW) is a key process within hazardous industries. eVision has led the industry forward on the path towards fully digital, integrated operations, but achieving Excellence is not a sprint: it’s a marathon. Understanding the whys, hows and whats surrounding COW is essential.


Control of Work (COW) is the integrated management of business critical maintenance processes, made up of hazard identification and Risk Assessment (RA), Permit to Work (PTW) and Isolation Management (IM).

Instructions or procedures are often adequate for most work activities, but some require extra care.  A Permit to Work system is a formal system stating exactly what work is to be done, where, and when.  A responsible person assesses the work and checks safety at each stage; the staff doing the job sign the permit to show that they understand the risks and precautions necessary.

Permits are effectively a means of communication between site management, plant supervisors and operators, and those who carry out the work. Examples of high-risk jobs where a written permit to work procedure may need to be used include hot work such as welding, vessel entry, cutting into pipes carrying hazardous substances, and work that requires electrical or mechanical isolation. It is also a means of coordinating different work activities to avoid conflicts.

Transitioning to Digital COW

The most effective way of realising and ensuring proper process compliance, increased safety and overall workforce efficiency, is transitioning to an integrated, digital Control of Work solution. First of all, COW systems are all about communicating relevant information (such as hazards and controls, roles, and responsibilities) to all personnel involved. Using a digital solution allows users to more easily access and share this information with necessary stakeholders, as well as to continually be aware of changes. Secondly, possible conflicts between permits are now flagged and managed automatically, reducing or even mitigating the possibility of conflicting work occurring. Thirdly, eVision’s digital COW solution, Permit Vision, visually represents permits on a graphical overview in the control room, greatly increasing situational awareness and knowledge of what is being done where.

However, what makes Permit Vision even more powerful, is integration with existent critical IT systems. For example, the Permit Vision can pull maintenance information (such as equipment trees and work orders) from leading Maintenance Management and Enterprise Resource Planning systems to streamline PTW processes and ensure the correct equipment and location information is included in permits, risk assessments and isolation plans. Also, live plant data can be integrated into the PTW process through connections with PI systems, giving the user real-time insight into various critical data points. Furthermore, integration with planning solutions such as Oracle Primavera allow for smart and adaptive planning of shutdowns and turnarounds.

Using Permit Vision as a fully integrated COW solution enables your organisation to leverage various data throughout your most important maintenance processes, enabling major increases in Hands on Tool Time, improving the quality of work, reducing risk, bolstering situational awareness and streamlining procedures.

Digital COW innovations

eVision Software consistently pushes the envelope in regard to COW innovation. Utilizing cutting-edge yet readily available technologies, efficiency and safety can be further increased through comprehensive, future-proof integrations. Two highlights in this area are:

Using intrinsically safe mobile devices and tablets, digital COW can be brought to the front line. Essential elements of (for example) Isolation Management can be put directly in the hands of field personnel, such as isolation point verification through mobile barcode scanning, as well as gas measurements and bringing permits live in the field. This greatly reduces travel time and allows companies to have a more holistic view of work being performed on the plant or asset.

Interactive Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (iP&IDs)     
When drafting a solid isolation plan, a large amount of time is spent on searching for the correct schematics, marking up isolations on the diagrams, attaching them to permits and managing the as-is versus as-built challenge in paper P&IDs.

Using advanced technology, these diagrams are now scanned into Permit Vision, automatically linked to Functional Location (FLOC) and equipment trees, and made editable and searchable. This leads to enormous time savings, as well as greatly increased accuracy and efficiency throughout the isolation preparation. In Permit Vision, the digital mark-up is automatically translated into an isolation plan, effectively mitigating a large and time consuming process completely while ensuring high-quality isolation preparation.

The future of digital COW

As hazardous industries embrace the switch to modern technologies and connectivity, the future offers incredible opportunities in the Control of Work arena. From augmented reality goggles displaying live plant data on actual equipment, to 3D plant modeling, to fully integrated solutions combining Maintenance Management Systems, observation rounds, shift management, the coming years will see great advancement in safety and productivity. And eVision will be constantly moving forward, enabling these innovations on the front line.

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