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Nimble Systems Are a Must, EHS Leaders Say

Companies must use more agile management information systems if they are to cope with today’s panoply of environmental risks and still manage to keep down costs, an MIS leader argued this week.

“There’s never been an environment with so many risks and all these risks happening at the same time,” Philippe Tesler, co-founder and CEO of Enablon North America, told participants in Environmental Leader’s latest webinar, Best Practices for EHS Compliance and Sustainability Performance Management. (Click the link to listen to a recording of the webinar.)

“If you look at [Fukushima], it affected the supply chain worldwide in literally a few days.”

Such risks require that companies have the ability to respond fluidly and make changes quickly, Tesler said.

He said that most companies have “solved the compliance issue,” having put in place systems to manage their adherence to regulations. But even these enterprises can be caught out if they are not nimble enough.

“First of all, whenever there is a new piece of regulation you don’t want to look at the system and say, ‘Great god, I need to change everything and I need a new piece of software…’ If you do that it means you’re already too late,” Tesler said.

To avoid this, Tesler says, EHS managers and executives need to make sure they have agile systems that allow them to configure their data collection and update that configuration as often as needed to respond to new reporting requirements.

“There’s always going to be a new requirement coming in. Three years ago everyone was taking about carbon. This year people are talking about water. If every time there’s a new trend you’re buying a new system, its going to be very expensive,” Tesler added.

Julio González, EHS programs manager at medical device and pharmaceutical supplier Covidien, said the company has a team in its legal department that tracks evolving regulatory issues around the globe in collaboration with the company’s EHS department. Notifications then go out to sites as they apply, and the necessary changes are made in the Enablon EHS Management suite that Covidien employs (screenshot above).

“An example of an emerging issue and where we used the EHS suite was with the EPA mandatory rule on carbon emissions,” González said. “We’re able to use the EHS suite to look at energy and carbon data and identify which of our sites in the U.S. would be affected.”

Immediately Covidien could tell that only two of its sites could potentially be affected, González said. And with further analysis it found that only one site was affected. At that point, the data needed for EPA reporting was already in the system, González said.

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