Technology an essential element of safety and asset management
Technology should be considered a key component of asset management and safety rather than just another tool
Today’s manufacturers are often confronted with continuously increasing health, safety, and environmental regulations. Largely driven by organizations like OSHA, these guidelines and regular audits by government agencies make it even more important for companies to utilize safety management technology as a component of their enterprise asset management initiatives.
Safety management has always been a point of contention when working with assets. What many organizations often overlook is the importance of safety as a financial imperative for workers and the bottom line. The primary purpose of safety management is to identify hazardous situations, materials, and activities, and then deliver a method of control to protect employees and the environment, and meet government regulations.
Safety can also impact an organization from a financial standpoint. For that reason, technology should be considered an essential element, rather than simply an extension of existing asset management.
The progression of safety management
In the past, companies relied on paper-based systems to manage safety. This made it difficult to track information and ensure that all necessary precautions were taken for each piece of equipment within a facility. When manufacturers were audited or experienced a safety incident, they had to search through large amounts of paperwork to determine who was assigned to a task, whether this employee was qualified, and if he or she followed correct procedures.
For example, pharmaceutical manufacturers are closely regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and previously kept logbooks under each piece of equipment. This approach required manual updates from employees each time they used a particular asset. This method was inefficient, time consuming, and essentially cost the plant money because of time lapses where machines were down while waiting for necessary data to move forward with production.
Modern EAM solutions offer safety-oriented functionality to help organizations take proactive measures. As regulations are continually changing, technology must be inherently flexible so that it may accommodate new guidelines, as well as provide the necessary visibility into processes to help organizations prove they are adhering to these new standards. Regulations are established to protect customers and employees from harm and shield organizations from litigation.
By identifying hazards and precautions, defining isolation points, and actively managing permitting, manufacturers can ensure their compliance and protect their company and employees from safety hazards.
Safety management applications are outfitted with the ability to define and categorize potential hazards such as: biological, chemical, physical, mechanical, or environmental agents that could threaten the health of employees. By identifying and grouping hazards, organizations can then determine necessary steps to avoid them and assign preventative precautions.
Decision makers can also create timelines to facilitate the effective use of these precautionary measures and set dates for regular review to enable consistent, up-to-date guidelines. By linking established standards with other EAM workflows such as work order requests, manufacturers can better promote safety throughout their facilities.
Outlining isolation methods is another action that organizations can take to prevent injuries and accidents in their plant. For example, including the necessary steps to perform a lockout/tagout on an acid pump could prevent that pump from being utilized incorrectly and helps to ensure it is accessible when necessary— and off when it could present a safety hazard. Linking these steps helps to guarantee that all necessary measures are taken to complete work efficiently and safely. With integrated information on what is dangerous, how to avoid those dangers, and steps to determine that precautions are effectively taken, safety management technology as a component of EAM delivers crucial functionality for the welfare of employees and products.
How it impacts the bottom line
Failing to ensure safety within a manufacturing facility can have a negative financial impact on an organization in two different ways. First, safety management helps to reduce downtime for machines because proper precautions are taken on a daily basis. By confirming that assets are up and running effectively, safety management saves the company a significant amount of money that could otherwise have been lost to stalls in production.
Safety management as a component of EAM also increases savings because successful asset management facilitates greater equipment efficiency. This reduces the possibility of asset failure, making certain that assets are running correctly and not utilizing excess energy to cost the company more money than necessary.
Furthermore, effective safety management safeguards manufacturers from potential litigation suits as a result of employee injury, or in the case of consumer-targeted products, customer injury as a result of product flaws. Safety management applications help organizations prove that they are taking the necessary measures to ensure safety while on their property, shielding them from potentially costly lawsuits as well as enabling compliance with government standards.
Safety management technology is applicable for every company that has assets, from food and drug manufacturers to manufacturers of automotive and electronic components. Organizations should take advantage of today’s flexible, easily auditable applications as an integral part of their asset management program to generate company savings through reduced equipment downtime, lower odds of litigation expenses, increased asset efficiency, and easier proven compliance with government standards.
Automated safety management provides greater visibility into processes company-wide, allowing decision makers to rest assured that safety oversights will not become an extra expense for their company.
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.