My Journey as an Audit Engineer

Apr 27, 2023

A suitcase filled with reams of paper, sometimes 1000’s of sheets, all in the name of the audit. It was not so long ago I was traveling to remote sites to audit stockyard machinery (reclaimers, stackers and ship loaders) and their protection systems.

My career did not start this way - I am an electrical and control systems engineer who has worked in heavy industry across mining, hydrocarbons, power and infrastructure in site and corporate roles. Having previously worked for a large mining company in brown and greenfield site roles, I wanted to experience more and see many companies operations - audit engineering was the ticket so I thought. I had done various commissioning jobs in substation construction, control systems implementation and

I thought there had to be a better way, I made up a template to reduce some of the paperwork and manual ink - this was not approved by one of the clients "all site audits must be wet ink". This meant manually hand written copies, and this was done twice as the "working copy" was inevitably too dirty with dust, grease and dirt by the end of a 12 to 14 hour shift accessing the many areas of the machine in an operational stockyard.

Along with tools, test equipment and PPE, the paperwork was a significant weight to my suitcase. The dusty and dirty operational environment meant I had working copies and clean copies of most documents, the duplication in effort and preparation was significant - it also meant I had to return to the office to submit reports, collect the next round of reports and have the reports filed away. 

Dreaded Paper - Here to stay in digital form?

Paper audits are slowly becoming a distant memory for many organisations, however many of the systems that have replaced paper still have the relics of paper design at their core - in the form of single instances, forms based and set formatting. 

This is where the initial idea for Eudits was born - throughout many plane trips and hotel stays. Back then many organizations were still largely paper based. These days organisations rely on systems, paper less so, smart phones, tablets and computers are everywhere. Many companies in heavy industry still rely on tried and true methods - with paper type data capture used extensively in the form of word documents, spread sheets and pdfs (or smart PDF’s). Audits are no different. 

Endless options

There are many solutions out there - the problem we have encountered as they do not suit the often complex and varying nature of audits - when not focusing on only one audit type. An audit of a high voltage power transformer may look very different to an audit of a process - both aim to capture current state data and find compliance, benchmarks or make improvements, however both have certain requirements unique to each audit. This is the problem I encountered - systems so specific to a certain solution - change is difficult and looses the required functionality - hence users default back to the Microsoft office suite.  

Technical engineering audits are common practice across heavy industry, where physical asset values are significant and the asset output the cornerstone to the business.  - largely driven by regulation, safety and risk compliance. 

The physical aspect to paper is only one area of inconvenience. The environments I worked in were often very dusty and whilst clean, for the asset, dirty for a white sheet of paper. This created working and clean copies (duplication),

The biggest problem however is the information is mostly static and cannot be easily tracked, updated, shared in bulk or managed. Whilst ERP's, including SAP, assist with the management of output data (through measurement points and documents) often outputs from audits, due to complexity, volume of information or effort to manage do not end up as systemised data in an ERP.