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Photo credit: Mira

Cogentrix, an industry-leading power generation organization, has been part of the power landscape in North America for more than 30 years and is now transforming energy production for a new generation.

Each of its 27 sites across the Eastern United States is subject to an annual compliance assistance visit, which involves an extensive facility inspection and compliance review against environmental, health and safety (EHS) regulations. Each site assessment typically involves multiple visits over a series of days or even weeks.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, site visits were no longer safe or feasible given travel restrictions; however, these site visits are critical to maintaining ongoing safe and compliant operations and reducing risk – and stopping was not an option. Cogentrix needed to find another way to continue the compliance assistance visits to ensure workers and facilities operated safely and in compliance.

During a project status and review meeting to discuss their broader compliance program, the EHS Director asked for ERM’s insights on how they could continue to advance their audit program with new limitations. Members of our Digital Services team were brought into the discussion based on their track record of helping other companies successfully leverage technology and digital solutions to solve problems.

Remote Auditing Pilot with data streamed in real time to off-site experts

Cogentrix partnered with ERM and Mira to reimagine its approach to site audits and explore different strategies and solutions. As well as evaluating potential technologies and vendors, ERM helped assess the likely impact of remote assist audits on people and processes and embark on a pilot project with Mira at one of the Cogentrix cogeneration facilities in Maine. After performing a few design thinking sessions to map out the “as is” and “future states” with people and processes, ERM implemented a digital solution using the Mira's Connect application running on the Prism headset. This mobile phone powered audit technology enabled remote subject matter experts to effectively guide frontline workers in real time, from anywhere, without having to travel.

The Mira Prism headset comes with two apps that bring hands-free access to task-critical information and remote expertise. Mira Connect enables on-site technicians to stream audio and video content to remote subject matter experts in real time, who can perform a complete audit without the need to visit a facility. The off-site auditors can communicate with technicians through a live feed and share media, such as facility photos, live video and procedures. Mira Flow is used to capture and analyse audit data, such inspection results, compliance status and supporting photos to generate pre-populated reports, saving time.

By leveraging this technology, other subject matter experts can participate in the visits, ask questions and share observations, increasing the impact and learnings of these visits and our program.”

Rick Neff

Senior VP, Environment, Health & Safety, Cogentrix

Rick Neff

Senior VP, Environment, Health & Safety, Cogentrix

Cogentrix maximizes efficiency and minimizes costs

By working with ERM to transform its approach to its compliance visits, Cogentrix has been able to continue these essential site visits with reduced harm or risk to their staff. Cogentrix can also now make better use of its internal EHS and engineering experts, who are valuable and limited resources. By eliminating their need to travel, these specialists can devote more time to other activities, such as environmental and safety best practices and operational excellence.

Along with assuring that everyone remains safe, this solution also saves time and money. Each site audit used to cost at least $10,000 in travel and expenses alone. Once the new solution is deployed across all 27 sites, the company will be able to save more than $270,000 per year – particularly important in the current economic climate when every dollar matters.

By adopting remote assist audits, Cogentrix can maximize efficiency and agility as well as quality and transparency. Data captured during the audit can be exported into other systems of record and analyzed to identify trends and drive continuous improvement.

Taking the next steps

Moving forward, Cogentrix will continue to work with ERM and utilize Mira’s software and hardware offering to conduct all of their health and safety audits. Additionally, they are piloting the technology within their engineering and operations teams, who could use a similar approach when making site assessments as part of the due diligence process for mergers and acquisitions.