Cape engineering CIO improves information visibility

From the second floor of Dave Jones' office you can see the remains of the colliery that was at one time the centre of industry and employment in Goldthorpe, a part of Barnsley in the South Yorkshire. Dave Jones is CIO for Cape, an organisation whose story is one that epitomises the story of UK; Cape too was once a heavy industry player in manufacturing. Today Cape is a specialist services business to the energy and petro-chemical industries. From its UK base Cape is a global provider of specialist access (think very complicated scaffolding in industrial settings), passive fire protection, linings and insulation; oil and gas storage tanks, heat exchangers and specialist coatings as well as environmental services.

"We provide specialist industrial services in 21 countries," Jones explains at the company's Yorkshire office. Cape is not only providing the raw materials for insulations, Cape has become a one-stop shop for specialist tools and skilled labour.

"So we are now involved in the construction through the full asset lifecycle management to de-commissioning," Jones says of the specialist plants and structures Cape builds in the UK, across Europe, Middle East and down in Australia. Vertical markets served are major energy, power generation, chemical manufacturing, mining and even defence organisations; customers include Bechtel, BAE; The Bahrain Petroleum Company, Sabic, EDF, Shell, BP, Exxon, Scottish and Southern Energy as well as the Sellafield nuclear plant.

"The environment can be quite challenging for IT. North West Australia is remote, it is hit by adverse weather so it is not easy to get good solid IT infrastructure into plants, so we can end up with 150 contractors using a 100 meg link," Jones says of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) plants in the outback. "We try and keep as much as we can in our data centres or the cloud, but that is a challenge if the comms are not fit for purpose. We use Riverbed for advancing the bandwidth, but that is not the way you'd choose to have things."

Not only is the geographical location of many plants a challenge, the plant itself is a unique environment. "LNG and petro-chemical organisations are very safety conscious, as you'd expect, so there are issues with taking technology on to the sites. Like a petrol station in the UK, you cannot use a mobile phone. Also, these destinations are highly secure, so they don't like cameras," Jones explains of the conservative nature and compliance structures Cape has to work within.

"We could do so much, but there are barriers that are difficult to overcome," he says of his desire to use the latest range of networking, sensing and audio visual tools to improve business processes. But as we will see, Jones and Cape leap when opportunities present themselves and one-by-one customers could be won round.

"We are using mobile with one client as they wanted an efficiency improvement. We have developed processes that have cut the duplication and improved the transparency of the inspection," Jones says. As ever, it's not only the client that benefits: "We have realised that we can get more data. If we have five inspectors on site you can see if there are gaps in their processes or we can see if there are issues with the plant. That gives us intelligence and a communications advantage," Jones says of the benefits to Cape.

As to how these translate with the client he adds: "It's about building the stories with the client. We are investing safe tablets so we can win business and can show that it enhances processes, but it won't be the deciding factor," Jones says. Cape has to be careful that the introduction of technology does not cause safety or security concerns, but there is a growing desire for innovation in the sector.

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