How digital processes simplify regulatory compliance

Monitoring legal changes and ensuring the necessary changes are made is often time-consuming. Many companies lack transparency in this area. Digital processes together with the EAM system ensure greater efficiency and security. Digital processes simplify compliance with regulations:

Legal regulations continue to increase in most industrial sectors. A great deal of effort is now required to work in compliance with the current regulations and standards at all times. Especially in sectors such as the energy industry, chemicals or pharmaceuticals, safeguarding the entire operation is essential and the density of regulations is particularly high. This makes it all the more important to use digitalization to establish appropriate processes alongside organizational structures. In addition, monitoring, accelerating and simplifying compliance-related tasks.

So vereinfachen digitale Prozesse die Regelkonformität

The areas of law are diverse:

They range from the Hazardous Waste Ordinance to the Noise Protection Ordinance, the State Soil Protection Ordinance or the Fire Prevention Ordinance, the Occupational Health and Safety Act to pollutant and immission control – to name just a few. Chemicals legislation, explosion protection and hazardous goods legislation also play an important role for many companies. One example: the energy supply company EnBW lists almost 700 regulations, rules and standards that are continuously monitored. Employees can use a web application to see which rules and laws are being monitored.

Clear organizational structures have priority when monitoring legislation

The most important prerequisite is that one person or a coordinating body “wears the hat” as the contact person for the set of standards and regulations and assumes responsibility. It is also important to have a structure that efficiently implements legal monitoring. Responsible contact persons must be involved in all business areas, for all aspects that play a role – for example, the operation of a system, the introduction of a new system or the software environment. Only the experts can assess what a requirement means for their area in concrete terms. This includes monitoring changes in the legal situation and determining what impact a change will have on day-to-day business. Finally, the change identified as necessary must be implemented, documented and secured.

Major digitalization gaps prevent transparency at the touch of a button

In the legal field of occupational health and safety, trade law and construction law, many standards apply across all sectors. Although most companies have corresponding organizational structures, these tasks are often not yet included in a process. A typical problem always arises where each person responsible only keeps an eye on their own area and there is a lack of overarching transparency. Only with a consistent process can it be proven at any time and within the shortest possible time that work is being carried out in accordance with the rules. This is an advantage for the CEO, authorities or even customers who require proof of compliance with certain standards.

As a rule, external providers who offer legal monitoring as a service are used. These include, for example, the Weka regulation service, which distributes changes to standards and laws on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the legal area. Such services provide the “raw materials”, so to speak, that companies can rely on – instead of having to assign staff to this themselves.

Eliminate media disruptions, establish clear digital workflows

The current list of regulations is usually accepted by the person with overall responsibility and passed on to the legal area managers for assessment, who evaluate the impact on their own business processes. At this point at the latest, it becomes clear how important digital process support is. The workflows involved in distributing and checking information are a classic automation task. Above all, however, where it is necessary to ensure that the necessary changes are implemented, there is a considerable gain in transparency through a digital process that incorporates a wide variety of systems and overcomes media disruptions.

For example, a parameter on a pump may need to be adjusted or a screw tightened. Interaction with downstream processes and systems can directly ensure that the machine or plant operator or the maintenance team implements this change. For example, the necessary work order can be recorded in a reporting system for the open points. The upper limits of the parameters can be changed together with a change in the EAM system and the work instruction for the employees. At the same time, everything is fully documented.

Close networking between EAM and compliance

The EAM system is particularly well suited for close integration with digital compliance monitoring. Many of the necessary changes relate to assets such as machines and systems and the surrounding processes. Implementation or review can often take place as part of a maintenance measure. As part of an EAM introduction, it can also make sense to digitize the legal monitoring process at the same time in order to put the topic of compliance on a solid footing. However, an appropriately digitalized process should also have interfaces to all relevant company systems such as ERP, manufacturing execution system and ticketing system. The task of the downstream system is to support the tracking of open issues and document their completion in a legally compliant manner.

Initial effort is worthwhile for complex legal monitoring

How complex and branched such a digital process needs to be and which interfaces are required depends heavily on the respective company and business purpose. Accordingly, there is no way around tailoring the software to the individual process to be defined. This topic cannot be standardized, it is simply not generic enough for that! Nevertheless, practice shows that this effort is worthwhile for more and more companies. One important reason for this is that more and more requirements are being placed on sustainability and fair trade and credible proof of this: This is also where issues such as the comparatively new Supply Chain Act come into play.

In order to be well positioned here, it must be ensured that all rules that come in via the regulations service are actually fed in, assessed and processed. It is also important to log the progress of changes in order to be able to provide seamless proof that all laws are being kept in view and consistently complied with. Without a digitally supported process, the scope for gaps and errors is simply much greater: only with the greatest possible transparency and a centralized approach can completeness and verifiability be reliably ensured