Story // 15.02.2023

Compliance in safety
SEKISUI is conducting remote audits at European sites

The pandemic situation challenged many companies with regards to on-site audits. Also SEKISUI. To comply with local standards and regulations, the Corporate Safety & Environment Group needed to consider innovative solutions how to continue operations and safety auditing. A remote inspection technology offered a solution, connecting the team in Japan with local experts on-site and enabling visual audits worldwide.

The auditing technology consists of a camera system and a head mounted tablet (HMT), worn by the auditee. The voice-controlled system is connected with Microsoft Teams as virtual meeting platform and can also be used in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX).

“The technology is simple to apply and enables to be part of the audit, wherever it is being held”, says Fred van Bijnen, EHS Manager at SEKISUI S-LEC. ”I experienced the ‘helm cam’ session as a real technical and organisational contribution to the world of remote audits.”

During a remote audit, the camera – attached to the helmet – provides live images to the participants of the virtual meeting room, including the auditors. The auditee, who is wearing the helmet, can control the perspective and angle of the camera through the mounted tablet and uses the screen to communicate with the other members.

“The live images give a clear vision of the local situation. Crucial is a stable internet connection”, explains Bernd Schroeder, EHS Manager at the regional headquarters, who facilitates the remote audits in Europe. In 2021, SEKISUI DIAGNOSTICS in Kent, UK, as well as SEKISUI SPECIALTY CHEMICALS EUROPE in Tarragona, Spain, were the first companies who could benefit from the technology investment made by SEKISUI EUROPE. Last year, inspections were held at SEKISUI S-LEC in Roermond, the Netherlands.  

One step forward

A remote auditing technology is not only a good answer for a pandemic situation with limited options for on-site audits, but also increases efficiency due to reduced auditing time and less travel cost. And there is another advantage, which is important to SEKISUI as an environmental conscious company: the technology can reduce the number of business trips and therefore emissions caused e. g. by long distance flights. One minor disadvantage though: The auditors in the Microsoft Teams meeting can only see what is shown and explained to them – they cannot experience aspects like smell, noise or atmosphere.

“It is important that the person wearing the camera has knowledge about the local situation and circumstances. And the participants need enough time to ask questions and discuss the findings”, so Fred van Bijnen. “If this is given, this step forward can make a difference in solving problems through remote audits. I am a fan of these kind of evolutionary techniques. If you cannot stop evolution, we should embrace it!”

“I really like this new, innovative way of doing audits and it offers many benefits for SEKISUI. Of course, it is still an early stage, but we are learning with every conducted audit,” states Bernd Schroeder. For the future he sees further potential for the technology, applying it for customer audits or intercompany trainings and best practice sharing.

The remote auditing system: A great innovative tool with many opportunities!