It’s inevitable that we encounter new equipment and PPE within the Industrial Rope Access industry. Innovations allow the progression of our sector, and provide us with the opportunity to develop more effective methodology. One thing that has lagged behind the evolution of industrial rope access equipment (if not all technical hardware in the recreational world too) is equipment inspection.
Equipment inspection is a daunting prospect for many companies, and individuals. It doesn’t take long for the unique identifies on equipment to become obscured, covered or removed.
Inspection of work equipment plays a vital role in protecting the safety of the technicians who use it. It is important in ensuring the continued safety of those using life supporting equipment. Correct and thorough inspection also ensures that organisations are compliant and not left open to litigation.
A unique identification number is a sequence of numbers and/or letters, unique to a single piece of equipment. This provides traceability of equipment, and allows the user to confirm information such as date of manufacture, production batch etc. Once that unique identifier is no longer legible – and ultimately requires the equipment to be quarantined and often destroyed.
The ‘simplest’ form of tracking unique identifiers during equipment inspections today, is through the use of a spreadsheet; columns and tabs tracking specific details of each individual piece of equipment, along with the dates that the gear underwent periodic thorough inspections by a certified equipment inspector.
A spreadsheet is manageable when there is a small quantity of equipment being logged – however for larger companies and organisations, there may be several hundred, if not thousand carabiners alone whose unique identifiers need to be logged and inspections recorded. For lack of a better description … equipment inspections on this scale become real shit, real quick.
Q1 – Ok folks, let’s start with some background. How long have you been doing PPE inspections? Can you remember your first one (middle ages? When L3’s wore armour?) and the recording method you used (stone tablets or papyrus)?
Leigh: 1994 was my first gear inspection, all in a folder, pen and paper. First rope access inspection 1999 same deal.
Deborah: My first PPE inspection would have been in 2005 within the outdoor education and guiding sector; specifically climbing gear and white water PFD’s / rescue equipment. Back then – it was only my own personal kit that I logged date of first use, and then only inspected prior to use.
During the last 10 years we have seen huge leaps in technology; program platforms, mobile devices, apps – we have finally come to a stage where it might just be possible to ease the stress of equipment inspections.
Papertrail combines equipment inspection, certification and audit management into one, easy to use platform.
Not only is this programme accessible offline, but individual equipment can be allocated specific inspection schedules – exclusive to that piece of equipment or equipment type. And. AND. It also gives you notifications, alerting you to when something is due for inspection. You can upload photos, record unique identifier, catch numbers, serial numbers, date of manufacture, date to remove from service, comments from inspection – including the option to monitor the equipment and increase the number of inspections of a piece of equipment prior to quarantine or removal from service. All this information is contained in one window, for that one piece of equipment. No more staring at lines upon lines of numbers and dates. The search function allows you to restrict to a product category as well – and you don’t need to search for the full identifier either, you can search just on 4 numbers (or letters) pertaining to that item.
Not bad huh?
Well. It gets better.
DMM iD is the start of a revolution in personal protective equipment (PPE) inspection and inventory management. In a world first, DMM have integrated RFiD technology into connectors (patent pending) and other difficult to mark PPE products, including ropes, harnesses and slings. The range of DMM iD products, together with our collection of retrofit iD tags, provide a comprehensive smart PPE solution.
Aaaaaaand it links to Papertrail. We’re talking visual inspection, one beep with the DMM RFiD Reader, and the item comes up in Papertrail to have the inspection recorded immediately. Not only can you retrofit the technology to additional rope access equipment … but they have worked out how to imbed the chip into a carabiner. This means – even if the engraved unique identifier is obscured over time; you can STILL scan the RFiD chip, and get all the information of that item: not just what is recorded in Papertrail, but on the DMM website you can search via RFiD and bring up everything about that item; including manufacturers technical notices.
Honestly, this integrated technology is a little too rad ignore.
So much so that we will go more detail, during our next post.
Stay tuned, and stay safe!