Industry Voices: Anna Mazurek
Frost & Sullivan research analyst Anna Mazurek discussed the importance of intrinsic safety systems.
Q: What are your thoughts on the ROI of safety systems vs. other types of installations?
Mazurek: Investment in safety supports transition from a reactive to a preventive model of business among the manufacturing companies. Depending on the type of possible accident, the cost might include insurance expenses, sick leaves, healthcare costs, lawsuit costs, environmental penalty, or plant downtime cost. Thereby, although investment in machine safety solutions does not bring a direct return, it enhances plant control, which increases plant productivity and allows avoiding additional costs.
Q: The report indicated that in some businesses, safety system installation or expansion has been a victim of the economic downturn. How does the industry address this?
Mazurek: The recession of 2009 and the economic slowdown of 2012 caused a slowdown in investment in machine safety solutions, as the end users concentrated on reducing operating and maintenance costs, and were not willing to invest in improvements which are not crucial for plant operation. The end users do not perceive ensuring machine safety as an improvement that might bring immediate profits and, therefore, postpone the implementation.
Q: Does the cost of unsafe manufacturing operations contribute to re-shoring or have other impacts on where manufacturers will locate their expanding facilities?
Mazurek: Due to a shift in attitude, the manufacturers acknowledge that ensuring safe working conditions is not a burden, but rather a necessity, which might become a competitive advantage and improve the public image of the company. Prevention is the best way to avoid such situations and thereby keep production efficient and competitive.
Moreover, increased awareness about human rights and labor laws has led to higher confidence among plant workers, who are willing to sue the employer who is not compliant with safety regulations. Keeping a safe working environment benefits the company and might create a competitive advantage.
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Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.