Think Smarter, Reach Solutions Faster

December 24, 2014
By Brian Schefke

Freer Consulting Co. announces its new White Paper series covering a range of topics of interest to businesses seeking information on industry trends, regulatory developments, international standards, business processes and more that will help you to think smarter and reach solutions faster.

Download our latest White Paper here. Also, please see our Think Tank, where you can find information on topics Freer Consulting will be exploring in the future.

2014 Year in Review

December 12, 2014
By Brian Schefke

As 2014 ends and 2015 approaches, we find ourselves reflecting on another busy year at Freer Consulting Company. The range and diversity of this year’s accomplishments bring to focus the comprehensive offerings that distinguish Freer Consulting from other firms of its kind. Our flexibility and expertise allow us to tailor our business services to provide the “right fit” for each of our customers.

Freer offers a rare level of “verticality” to its customers. Many companies can assist with a specific part of a project, but Freer can help with the entire project. For example, let’s say you want to install a stormwater treatment system to meet regulatory requirements. Freer can provide support for any and all of the stages of this project, such as:

• Assessment and research to determine your specific needs.
• Evaluation of different systems, based on cost and effectiveness.
• Customization of engineering and design.
• Communication with regulatory authorities.
• Documentation (permit applications, engineering reports, SWPPPs, etc.).
• Sampling, quarterly reporting, corrective actions, etc.
• Training.

Freer can also grow with your company and provide new services as you need them. You may contract with us for one set of services (such as stormwater management), but then find that you also need help with ISO standards certification in order to attract and retain new business. We offer solutions that include a range of services, such as:

• Defining management processes to comply with applicable standards.
• Customizing documentation to meet a standard’s requirements.
• Helping to implement a standard.
• Providing internal audits.
• Assisting with corrective actions.
• Selecting a registrar and external auditor to provide certification.
• Training.

Freer Consulting has the experience, flexibility, and expertise to adapt to your company’s needs. In doing so, we establish a productive long-term relationship with your business. If you are interested in any of our services, contact us at 206-285-9044 or info@freerconsulting.com.

Dock and Sea Trial Documentation

November 7, 2014
By Brian Schefke

International standards play a significant role in the maritime construction industry. Whether your company builds vessels, provides parts for vessels, or manages the construction of vessels, such standards likely guide your processes and deliverables, and often serve to meet the minimum requirements of your customers. What do you do when a customer provides technical specifications that require adherence to one or more standards? How do you apply these standards to your specific deliverable?

In a recent project, Freer Consulting assisted a maritime company that was building a fireboat for a major West Coast port. The port required dock and sea trial documentation (test procedures and data sheets) to test each component system and core function of the vessel (for example, main and auxiliary engines, electronic equipment, deck machinery, fire systems, etc). As part of this requirement, relevant information from component/system vendors, naval architects, and the following standards were to be incorporated:

• ISO 2923 Measurement of noise on board vessels
• ISO 6954 Guidelines for the measurement, reporting and evaluation of vibration with regard to habitability on passenger and merchant ships
• ISO 15016 Ships and marine technology – Guidelines for the assessment of speed and power performance by analysis of speed trial data
• ISO 19019 Sea-going vessels and marine technology – Instructions for planning, carrying out and reporting sea trials
• ISO 20283-2 Mechanical vibration – measurement of vibration on ships
• NFPA 1925 Standard on Marine Fire-Fighting Vessels
• SNAME Technical & Research Bulletin No. 3-47 (Guide for Sea Trials)
• SNAME Technical & Research Bulletin No. 3-39 (Guide for Shop and Installation Tests)

From these requirements, the team at Freer Consulting came up with a methodical approach to produce approximately 40 test procedures and data sheets:

1. Created a template for the test procedures and data sheets to ensure a consistent look and feel across all deliverables.
2. Presented the template and a mock up to the customer/port to ensure that our proposed deliverable would meet their requirements.
3. Worked with vendors to obtain relevant documentation.
4. Reviewed the applicable standards and vendor documentation to glean relevant information.
5. Created draft test procedures and data sheets.
6. Submitted the draft documentation to an industry expert for review and feedback.
7. Incorporated feedback from the industry expert and submitted to the customer for review.
8. Incorporated feedback from the customer/port and addressed any questions to finalize the documentation.

Through project management expertise, research, consultation with industry experts, and coordination with vendors, Freer Consulting succeeded in creating dock and sea trial documentation that met the requirements of the port and our customer.

Freer Consulting has successfully assisted numerous maritime customers with the implementation and documentation of international standards. If you would like to know more about international standards and how they can help your business, contact Freer Consulting at (206) 285-9044 or at info@freerconsulting.com.

Documentation and Standards

October 29, 2014
By Brian Schefke

Consistent, clear, and usable process documentation, including a clear chain of responsibility and management of change, is a key aspect of any management system. Documentation allows companies to monitor and audit processes, streamline business practices, and continually improve products and services. When processes change, document revisions clearly communicate and track the change.

International standards, such as ISO 9001 and 2923, require documentation. Many customers require their vendors to be certified in such standards as a condition of doing business. Of the customers that don’t require adherence to a specific standard, many require specific documentation. Documentation is often required for the following processes and tasks:

• Purchasing
• Information Technology
• Document Control
• Maintenance
• General Oversight of Management System
• Contracts
• Human Resources
• Customer Service
• Business Risk & Continuity
• Testing and trials

Freer Consulting has extensive experience with management system documentation, technical documentation, and customized documentation to meet specific customer requirements. For example, a recent customer required approximately 40 test procedures and accompanying data sheets for a large deliverable in order to adhere to many requirements and standards and be able to generate records that proved the customer met them. This documentation integrated information from a number of sources and included multiple industry standards (such as NFPA 1925 and ISO 20283), applicable part and product information from approximately 15 vendors, regulatory requirements (such as safety equipment) technical specifications provided by the customer. Furthermore, the documents required review by an industry expert to ensure that they were in accordance with industry best practices (such as the proper scope for each test procedure). For this project Freer Consulting provided research, project management, technical writing and subject matter expertise, and substantial coordination between Freer, the customer, and the customer’s vendors. Freer was able to deliver the documents on time and within the customer’s budget.

If you need help with your existing documentation or in creating new documentation as part of standards implementation, contact Freer Consulting at (206) 285-9044 or at info@freerconsulting.com

Risk Assessment: API Spec Q1 and Q2, and 6a Standards

September 12, 2014
By Brian Schefke

As we covered in a prior post, incorporating a standard, such as API, into your business practices greatly improves your ability to assess and manage risk. Risk assessment reduces costs, improves customer satisfaction, and opens up new business opportunities. There are a number of standards that may apply to your business and industry.
For example, the American Petroleum Institute (API) publishes standards for businesses in the oil & gas industry. One in particular is API Spec 6a, which recommends best practices for the manufacture of wellhead and Christmas tree equipment. More specifically, Spec 6a covers issues such as:

• Technical quality requirements
• Design methods
• Testing procedures (stress, etc.)
• Material composition of parts
• Tolerance ranges of parts
• Quality control of parts

If you are a supplier of oil & gas extraction equipment, adhering to Spec 6a may be contractually required upstream or downstream in your supply chain. Many larger companies in the industry (BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, etc.) require suppliers to meet API standards in order to do business with them. Even if you are working with another company that does not require certification in these standards, you can demonstrate your commitment to quality and customer satisfaction that will make your business stand out among the competition.

If a specific standard doesn’t exist for your product, your business can still benefit from a general system of quality management. An example of such a system from the oil & gas industry is API Spec Q1, a quality management system for manufacturers, and Spec Q2, a quality management system for service providers. Topics covered in Spec Q1 and Q2 include:

• Order review
• Design review
• Document & data control
• Process control
• Inspection & testing
• Corrective actions
• Internal quality audits

ISO 9001 is another quality management system that businesses in various sectors have implemented successfully.

Whichever international standard may apply, it’s worthwhile to consider whether certification is an appropriate strategy for your business.

Freer Consulting is available to help you become certified in a number of industry standards (including, API Spec 6a, API Spec Q1 and Q2, and ISO 9001). We have turnkey solutions to your certification needs including the following:

• Process based approach to management systems
• Software with procedure templates meeting the requirements of the standard
• Expert consultants to help customize the templates to suit your business
• Training on the procedures to end users
• Internal auditing
• Corrective action support
• Registrar selection and facilitation of the external auditor providing certification

If you’re interested in these services, please contact us at 206-285-9044 or info@freerconsulting.com.

Keeping Up With BMPs This Summer

August 15, 2014
By Brian Schefke

The dry season is upon us in the Puget Sound region. If you are a stormwater permittee, you may be tempted to relax your implementation of stormwater best management practices (BMPs). However, it is just as important to keep up with your BMPs during the summer as you would in any other season.

Dry conditions generate and build up sediment. This can lead to elevated turbidity levels in stormwater, as well as other pollutants, such as copper and zinc that often adhere to sediment. These elevated parameter levels tend not to be observed during the summer due to the lack of stormwater discharge, but do show up in laboratory test results when the rains resume in the fall.

Keep in mind that under the Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP), permittees are required to sample stormwater discharge during the first storm event after October 1st. It is not uncommon to observe “first flush” effects in stormwater samples taken early in the fall. This means that unusually high levels of parameters, such as turbidity, are found in stormwater. These levels, which built up over weeks or months, are washed out all at once, instead of being carried off repeatedly at lower levels during the rainy season. This can trigger a corrective action unless permittees collect multiple samples and average the results to bring their parameter levels below the ISGP benchmark values.

You can reduce the likelihood of corrective action, or the need to collect multiple samples to avoid a corrective action, by continuing to implement your BMPs during the dry season. Key BMPs include:

  • Keeping your site clean, including regular sweeping where necessary.
  • Regular inspections to identify potential problems, such as sediment buildup.
  • Making sure that any treatment structures or devices are maintained properly.
  • Increasing the frequency of BMP implementation when necessary.

Freer Consulting is available to assist you with designing and implementing effective best management practices. Contact us at 206-285-9044 or info@freerconsulting.com.

Risk Management and ISO 31000

July 17, 2014
By Mairead Roden

Any organization, regardless of industry, size, or sector, deals with risk. Risk can vary in type, severity, and degree of certainty, but when it’s uncontrolled, negative consequences, whether economic, environmental, societal, or other, are likely. It is impossible to eliminate all risk—the world is full of uncertainties—but we can take steps to minimize it. This is where risk management and ISO 31000 come into the picture. ISO 31000 is an international standard of best practice recommendations for risk management. These recommendations help organizations improve management, safety, and security in the workplace, while also improving the quality and consistency of their output.

Implementation of ISO 31000 is voluntary. The benefits, however, are undeniable. Among other things, risk management:

  • Improves efficiency in operations and the achievement of objectives.
  • Addresses uncertainty and ensures that risks are managed proactively.
  • Adapts to an organization’s needs, while improving stakeholder confidence.
  • Responds to change and facilitates continual improvement.
  • Minimizes losses.

Freer Consulting Co. has extensive experience with ISO 31000 and a proven ability to effectively customize and implement a risk management process for your organization. If you are interested in our services, please contact us at 206-285-9044 or info@freerconsulting.com

ISGP Renewal: Due July 5

June 25, 2014
By Brian Schefke

A new Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP) is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015. Permit holders, who receive coverage under the ISGP, must reapply for coverage by July 1, 2014. To reapply, complete a new Notice of Intent (NOI) online or download and fill out the NOI form.

The changes to the ISGP include the following:

  • Facilities that require permit coverage
  • Facilities that are excluded from permit coverage
  • Specific Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) requirements
  • Sampling locations, benchmarks, and effluent limitations
  • Corrective actions
  • Reporting and recordkeeping

The draft ISGP is available here for public comment through July 11, 2014. The Department of Ecology plans to release the final ISGP in November.

Freer Consulting Co. is available to help you apply for permit coverage. We also offer a number of other stormwater management services:

  • Consultation in effective best management practices (BMPs)
  • Engineering services for stormwater treatment systems
  • Stormwater sampling and laboratory management
  • Regulatory compliance and documentation assistance
  • SWPPP development
  • Vendor and employee training
  • Regulatory and industry trend forecasting
  • Custom studies, research, and historical publications.

If you are interested in our services, please contact us at 206-285-9044 or info@freerconsulting.com.

Stormwater Facility Credit Program

May 16, 2014
By Brian Schefke
Stormwater Facility Credit Program

Businesses in the City of Seattle that have a stormwater treatment facility in place may be eligible for the Stormwater Facility Credit Program (SFCP). This credit allows qualifying businesses to save money on their drainage fees as part of their annual King County taxes.

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) developed the SFCP to encourage businesses to take action in managing stormwater flow. Better management of stormwater lessens the impact on the city’s drainage system, the area’s creeks and rivers, and Puget Sound. Examples of stormwater systems that may qualify for the credit include:

  • Permeable pavement
  • Detention vaults
  • Oil-water separators
  • Bioswales
  • Sand filters
  • Multi-media filters

The more surface area that is managed within the tax parcel, the higher the discount. Stormwater treatment facilities must be built, operated, and maintained in accordance with the city’s Stormwater Code and Stormwater Manual Vol. 3 – Stormwater Control & Water Quality Treatment Technical Requirements  and are verified by an on-site inspection from SPU.

You can find more information about the SFCP here. If you need assistance with the application process or complying with the program’s requirements, please feel free to contact Freer Consulting Co at 206-285-9044 or email.

2013 ISGP Annual Reports: Due May 15

April 4, 2014
By Brian Schefke
ISGP Annual Reports

Washington permit holders, who receive coverage under the Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP), are required to submit an annual report to the Department of Ecology. This report is due May 15, 2014.

The annual report includes information about any stormwater events at your facility during 2013 (for example, spills that could have affected stormwater discharge). The report should also include any corrective actions that were triggered or completed during the previous year. This information includes:

  • The conditions that triggered corrective action review.
  • The problems discovered and the dates they were discovered.
  • A summary of each corrective action that was completed during the previous year and the dates they were completed.
  • The status of any Level 2 or 3 corrective actions that were triggered during the previous year and the expected completion dates.

You can locate forms for the annual report in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats here. If you need assistance completing your annual report, please feel free to contact Freer Consulting Co at 206-285-9044 or email.