For many of you in highly regulated industries, such as power generation, water and wastewater, natural gas, government, and others, using electronic logbooks is a best practice. But there are a number of myths floating around about electronic logbooks that might make it seem like they are too big a leap for your organization. While it’s certainly good to carefully review the possible downsides of any big business decision, it’s also good to know what information is real, and what isn’t.
(And P.S., We’re not sure if any of this will actually blow your mind – we got that off the internet.)
Myth #1: We’ll have to change how we do business to use an electronic logbook.
eLogger is designed to group your information into specific areas for intelligible narrative and compliance, but what those areas include, who can view them, and what they can do in them is really up to you. At the end of the day, we want every operator to feel like an electronic logbook makes their job easier. To do that, your electronic logbook needs to conform to the way you do business, not the other way around. It should work how you work. (We don’t want your operators to hate you, either.)
Myth #2: Electronic logbooks are going to be too hard to learn.
eLogger is built by operators, for operators. And with thousands of operators making new logs every day, we speak with some authority when we say it won’t be too hard to learn. The system is intuitive, prompting your operators to organize your information the way it makes sense for your operation. Training is a hands-on process, in which your administrative users will learn by doing, and configure your logbook while they do it. And afterward, if they ever get hung up, they can always reach out for help, or more advanced training.
The worst complaint we routinely get is that now, operators never have a pen in their pocket anymore.
Myth #3: We don’t have time for a big change like migrating to electronic logbooks.
Installing electronic logbook software doesn’t have to take months. Deploying it doesn’t, either. The truth is, you’re already keeping logs, and those can be recreated in eLogger (likely, with some improvements) as you’re ready to add them. Start off by making eLogger a logbook. Add the fancier stuff (connect your logs to PI, or SCADA, for example) later, or on an as-needed basis. For most of our clients, being up and running within just a few weeks of installation is a completely reasonable expectation.
Ask the folks in purchasing: it probably takes longer to requisition a new coffee vendor.
Myth #4: Electronic logbooks will require too much from our IT department.
At eLogger, every single company we’ve spoken to is worried that their IT department will struggle with an electronic log. We have to assume this is based on experience. But eLogger’s electronic logbook software doesn’t require much intervention from IT, and even less ongoing assistance from IT. Moreover, most of the systems and hardware necessary are industry standards- you probably have them already. At eLogger, most of our system administrators are operators. The rule generally is that if you’re good at being an operator, you’ll be good at building eLogger. No IT required.
Myth #5: We already have Excel, PI, or other systems- why do we need one more?
If you have any or all of these systems, we applaud you. And in fact, eLogger can create some pretty awesome combined reports, using those systems. But what our clients tell us is missing with these systems alone is narrative. The daily doings of the facility- rounds reporting, manual checks, personal accounts of the day’s activities. Your CMMS might tell you that a pump has been replaced three times in the last year, but not that one of those times was because Tom (or Tonya) ran into it with a forklift. Combining those activities with the data retrieved from other, automated systems can provide an unprecedented vista from which to view your operation. eLogger can fill in the gaps between disjointed systems as one place where your information and your operators meet to tell the story of how your facility is operating. Automatic data readings aren’t logbooks: If our dads taught us anything, it’s that when your job calls for a hammer, you don’t use a crescent wrench.
Myth #6: Our IT can just build an electronic logbook for us.
We don’t doubt the incredible talent and creativity of your IT department, but – not to put too fine a point on it – we’ve been doing this for 20 years. Creating a stable, effective platform that grows easily with changing regulations and actual operational needs (so the software works like you work, not the other way around) is a full-time job. Several, in fact- eLogger has a full staff of programmers whose focus is divided between what our clients are saying they need and how to make that happen in the software in ways everyone can benefit from. We release an updated version every 12 months, on average. We’re not doing that to see if people are paying attention- we’re doing it because that’s the pace that software/regulations change. Not to mention our team of support staff, here to help you solve difficult problems and make sure you stay up and running, all the time.
See, at elogger, logbook software is all we do. We’re not burdened by other IT issues, along with the demands of all the departments of the whole facility. We just do this one thing, with the intention of doing it better than anyone else.
If it’s any consolation, we’re lousy at generating power, treating water, or anything aerospace.
Myth #7: An electronic logbook will only be good for one part of my business.
Guess how many times we’ve heard, “but we only use logbooks in our (INSERT NAME OF DEPARTMENT HERE.)” Okay, we don’t have an exact tally, but seriously, SO MANY TIMES. And generally, we believe what our clients tell us about their businesses. After all, like we said, we’re good at electronic logbooks, but we’re just terrible at power generation (or water treatment). But on this one thing, we’re sure: you’ll be amazed by how many places you can use eLogger. The bigger issue will be how best to carefully roll eLogger out to all of the applications you’ve found for it, so you don’t overwhelm yourself. But whether it’s safety, inventory, lab, management of change (MOC), deliveries, scheduling, production, payroll, ticketing, security, visitors, or even the annual recipe contest, you can build it in eLogger.
Myth #8: Electronic logbooks are too expensive.
If you’re comparing the cost of electronic logbook software to, say, a physical green ledger logbook, then yes. It’s definitely more (those things cost like fifteen bucks). But it pays you back in some interesting ways:
- You’ll save time. Like the old adage goes, “you have money, people, and time, and time is the only one you can’t get more of.” While it’s hard to put a value on opportunity cost, think of all the projects you’d do right now, with a few more hours in the day. Every day. Of every year, for as long as you use eLogger. It adds up. What will you do with all of that time? We’re willing to bet you can think of a few things.
- You’ll know more. Maybe that will help you save money on equipment, staffing hours, audit penalties, or other costly reporting glitches. (More than one eLogger user has paid for their eLogger installation with defrayed penalties from regulators- easier access to information is worth money, for many of our clients.) How much would be that be worth to your organization? How quickly would you recover your costs? Now imagine those benefits, compounded over one year, or five.
- You’ll streamline your operation for your operators. Using eLogger will certainly make your shift turnover smoother and less prone to omissions and oversights, improving shift-to-shift communication, and making life easier for the people who make your facility run smoothly. Many eLogger clients have reported back that eLogger made them better operators. It’s hard to put a price on that.
- You’ll make proactive, informed decisions. “Hey, why is that bearing 10 degrees hotter all of a sudden? Has this bearing ever run this hot before? How many times and how recently?” Being able to search, query and trend data from a month, year or even 5 years ago, based on various criteria, can help you best plan for upgrades and repairs and/or avoid costly outages and shutdowns. Dealing with small problems before they develop into bigger problems saves money that can be used for many other things – perhaps purchasing a new piece of equipment that increases efficiency, which will have a long-term impact on profit margin and ultimately competitiveness. Ask the former smart-phone leader, BlackBerry; proactivity pays.
- You’ll impress your managers, owners, and other stakeholders in measurable ways. Electronic logbooks allow you to easily and quickly send information to whoever it is you’re most concerned about impressing, or with whom you’d like to communicate better.