Machine safety and asset management

Aren’t these two terms, machine safety and asset management, in opposition to each other? If so, then what the devil is meant by this title? Four steps can help those with responsibilities in both areas: Here's how.


Aren’t these two terms, machine safety and asset management, in opposition to each other? If so, then what the devil is meant by this title? There's a four-step plan below that's critically important for those with responsibilities in each area.

Asset Management usually is in reference to understanding values, strategies, and methodologies for overall effectiveness of capital (investments, machinery, inventories, etc.). Machine Safety usually is all about the number one company asset – employees – and how to keep them safe as required by OSHA, regulations, company safety policies, common sense, and so forth. Rarely do the proponents of “Asset Management” ever talk about a company’s number one asset – the employee. I’m about to change that!

When I look at Asset Management from the Machine Safety side of the enterprise I see all assets of the enterprise. The first asset I see is the employee and then I see plant and equipment, inventories, conveying systems, shipping and receiving facilities, packaging, document storage, catwalks, pits, chemicals, employee parking, material handling, electrical supply, safety policy, safety awareness, and the list goes on………….

Inside of that I see hazards, guards, and mitigation solutions that leave various levels of residual risk to some hazard. It occurs to me that everything I’ve just raised has an impact on the overall effectiveness of capital and therefore, Asset Management. What is it that I see from the machine safety side of the enterprise that doesn’t have an impact on the bottom line?

I say – NOTHING!

So, if that’s the case, doesn’t it make sense that we machine safety inclined folks help raise the flag that there’s a significant new chapter that needs to be addressed by the Asset Management proponents? Isn’t it true that injuries and hazards have a direct impact on machine uptime? How about the cost of temporary employees covering an injured worker? And, if productivity goes down doesn’t the manufactured cost of inventories increase? Let’s not also overlook certain cost ratios of Asset Management such as; warranty, on-time delivery, or customer retention. Each of these examples are potentially impacted by machine uptime and, therefore, a company’s number one asset – the employee.

As I view the enterprise there is an absolute strategic relationship between Machine Safety and Asset Management. The development and sustainability of a company’s competitive advantage is at stake in this rapidly changing global world in which we compete today. It’s my opinion that we must include Machine Safety as a core aspect of Asset Management for the march toward your strategic objectives. I view this as a four step plan:

1.    Understand your situation – this involves risk assessments, metrics, key performance indicators (KPI’s), tracking systems, etc.

2.    Locate and identify hazards and performance gaps – this involves hazard analysis, awareness gaps (technology, regulations, policy, injury rates, lost-time accidents, etc.) and KPI’s that allow you to know where you are relative to strategic objectives.

3.    Correct the problems – this involves establishing mitigation plans to close the gaps and reduce the hazards documenting the path forward for its related contribution to the strategic objectives and Asset Management.

4.    Long-term health – the fourth step is critical to establishing a culture for continuous improvement. You need to build a cache of knowledge about machine performance for each machine in the enterprise in order to determine how to use that machine for your competitive advantage.

This is my plan for the Machine Safety chapter of Asset Management. Companies can become more cost efficient and at the same time improve yields, productivity, and safety compliance.

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