It starts with safety

Three years ago, on his first day as plant manager at Ocean Spray’s Bordentown, NJ facility, Tim Haggerty tried to anonymously roam through the 500,000 square-foot facility. He succeeded. And that was the problem. “I went through totally unnoticed,” said Haggerty. “No one challenged me as to who I was.

By Bob Vavra, Editor October 15, 2007

Three years ago, on his first day as plant manager at Ocean Spray’s Bordentown, NJ facility, Tim Haggerty tried to anonymously roam through the 500,000 square-foot facility. He succeeded. And that was the problem.

“I went through totally unnoticed,” said Haggerty. “No one challenged me as to who I was.” He observed the casual attitude toward safety and security, and made that his first priority for change at the Bordentown plant.

It wasn’t an easy call to make. There were many problems that needed to be faced at Bordentown. Declining productivity and lax maintenance practices left the plant teetering on the edge of disrepair and obsolescence. Change was needed, not to just reverse the negatives, but to pull Bordentown from the brink of extinction.

For Haggerty and his management team, it started with safety.

“Our mantra, which comes from our V.P. of Operations Mike Stamatakos, is that nothing we do is worth getting hurt over,” he said. “We had to change cultural attitudes. We told the employees we want to prove we were serious about their safety and well-being. And in doing so, we knew that they would begin to take us seriously about all of the other changes that needed to be made within the plant.”

In July 2007, that message was rewarded. The Ocean Spray Bordentown facility surpassed one million hours without a lost time accident. The plant passed 1.1 million hours in September, and its new goal is the corporate record of 1.6 million hours which was attained by the Ocean Spray Henderson facility in Las Vegas. Haggerty was also working at that facility when they reached their million hour mark four years ago.

Safety drives success

The residual benefits of Haggerty’s leadership and his emphasis on safety have paid in other ways as well. “For some time, we had been missing our key metric of cost-per-case by 50 cents a case,” Haggerty said. “Last year for the first time in several years, we hit our cost-per-case metric.”

The change is seen on the bottom line, and on the production line. “It creates a definite cultural shift,” said Haggerty. “In defense of the employees who were here, when I started to ask, I was surprised to learn that the employees hadn’t had any semblance of a performance appraisal in years — if at all. One of the things I committed to was having a one-on-one with everyone in the plant. There were a couple of resounding themes. They wanted us to lead the organizational change, and they expected that people would be held accountable.”

Change came in many forms. Haggerty and most of his senior staff came from outside the Ocean Spray organization, and employees who weren’t willing to adhere to the new policies were held accountable. Or, as Haggerty put it, “The people who are left (today) were more amenable to change. They embraced the change. They wanted to feel appreciated.”

The immediate emphasis on safety was a strategic one. “The stark reality as a plant manager is that I have only two roles. One is to return workers to their loved ones every day in the same condition as when they arrived,” Haggerty said. “The other is to keep this organization viable so that the employees have a place to come back to tomorrow.”

There were several approaches to the safety strategy. There was a top-down analysis of safety protocol and procedures. There was a job site analysis of how work was being performed. Use of PPE was strictly enforced. It went beyond the hairnets, ear plugs and safety glasses expected in a food processing facility. It was bump caps, behavior-based safety observations, Lock Out/Tag Out/Try Out procedures and constant communications. Safety was enforced, at all times, everywhere.

The entire management team is held just as accountable as the line workers for safety, and expectations were raised up and down throughout the entire organization.

“There was peer accountability,” Haggerty said. “What had been acceptable practice was no longer the case. We had a fresh look at the risks that were taken.”

Risks and rewards

Even in a largely automated process, the Ocean Spray operation does have some inherent safety risks. The manufacture and distribution of liquid products requires not only strict adherence to FDA regulations, but also the use of liquid to wash down several areas in the facility. Wet spots on floors are not uncommon.

There is also the high-speed nature of the process. PET bottles are manufactured onsite for the juices under the Ocean Spray label, and a separate area adjacent to the plant makes Tetra Paks for Nestle’s Juicy Juice brand. Annual volume at Bordentown has almost doubled in the last three years, and the facility is now poised to take on even more volume in the future.

Succeeding at safety made it easier to attack the other major shortfall at Bordentown. The maintenance strategy three years ago was reactive at best, and machine breakdowns were treated without a certain sense of urgency. There was no organization in the parts area and no scheduling to do preventive maintenance.

The job for changing that fell to maintenance manager Phil Camerota. “One of the significant challenges of turning around the maintenance group is that these are people who feel like they are professionals by nature,” Camerota said. “If we wanted to challenge the maintenance group, we had no chance unless we recognized that.”

The defining moment for the maintenance department was, of all things, a fire in the maintenance building. Rebuilding from the fire gave Camerota the chance to rebuild maintenance processes and procedures from the ground up.

Today, tools and parts are organized and catalogued; the dingy gray of the space is replaced by white walls and bright lights. A full maintenance schedule is posted each day. More importantly, the maintenance staff is engaged daily with the machines they repair as well as with the operations personnel who run those machines. The staff is on the production lines daily, checking with workers to see where problems are, and manning the lines themselves to listen with trained eyes and ears for signs of future trouble.

“If you talk to the mechanics now, there’s a different swagger about them,” Haggerty said. “They know their responsibility is to keep the plant running all the time. We tell them the person who runs that line is the mechanic.”

Continuing the improvement

The pressure to change wasn’t because of outsourcing or foreign pressures. The need to change Bordentown came because Bordentown was underperforming. Change succeeded because Bordentown’s management and employees responded to the opportunity to change.

Bordentown’s employees don’t just wear the idea of safety and productivity on their sleeves; they wear it on their back. A nine-point manufacturing improvement plan is on the backs of navy-blue t-shirts with the Ocean Spray logo on it. Productivity, safety and production data are posted throughout the facility, giving employees each day a snapshot of how safety and productivity gains are measured, celebrated and challenged toward continuous improvement.

Ocean Spray is synonymous with cranberry juice, and there are few better places on the planet to grow cranberries than along the boggy shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The Bordentown plant, located on 62 acres midway between Philadelphia and New York, is strategically located to take advantage of that geography.

Almost all that is left of the former Ocean Spray Bordentown plant from three years ago are the exterior walls. Those walls, first constructed in the late 1800s for a worsted wool mill, have housed Ocean Spray production for more than six decades. Inside the walls, the history is evident, and yet change is everywhere.

“If you see nothing else today, you see the remnants of the old facility,” said Haggerty. “When you come today, this is the worst the plant will ever look. When you see it tomorrow, it will look better. There is always incremental improvement.”

Now there is talk of expansion, with warehouse space being converted to additional Tetra Pak lines and increased output in the bottled juice area opening up the chance to add an additional production line.

“We wanted the organization to act like this is a world-class organization,” Haggerty said. “The employees deserve all the credit for that.”

Take an integrated, automated approach to holistic safety

By Scott Hillman , Honeywell Process Solutions

From a plant fire to a faulty valve, industrial plants across the nation face a variety of potential, dangerous and costly incidents everyday. As a result, plant managers across the nation should be asking themselves: “Is my plant safe enough?”

To confidently answer yes, managers must verify plant safety by reducing the risk of incidents that cost money or put plant personnel and the environment in danger. To alleviate the risk of serious incidents, consider safety from all aspects of a plant’s operation.

Plant safety goes beyond installing fail-safe controllers or a safety instrumented system. Safety is the result of the layered combination of education, best practices, proper maintenance and hardware. Each layer is designed to ensure you will never need the next, but all are necessary to prevent a potential incident.

A comprehensive focus includes training operators, monitoring distress indicators, tracking and mustering personnel and managing the health of process through ongoing asset monitoring and maintenance. This integrated approach demands not only understanding safety’s relationship to human error, but also the interrelationships among root causes and interventions by plant systems and plant personnel.

Safety and human error

Unfortunately, human error is a significant factor in almost all accidents. Intense moments of prioritizing alarms and stabilizing processes exacerbate these errors. Studies conducted by the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium, a Honeywell-led research and development group concerned about the negative effects of industrial plant incidents, have shown that 42% of abnormal situations in modern-day processing plants are due to people and their work context. Another 36% of these are from equipment problems, and of those, half are a direct result of operating the equipment or process unit outside the ‘operating envelope.’

To improve operational reliability and to avoid some of these incidents, examine the work processes of the control room operators. Facility managers must decide what tools operators need so that they can be successful in their jobs and contribute to safe and profitable operations.

Analysis of a disaster

To aid managers in the correct tool choice, understanding the management of abnormal situations is necessary. The interrelationships among root causes and interventions by plant systems and plant personnel are important aspects of this understanding. Specifically, the graphic in Figure 1 illustrates the anatomy of a disaster.

A typical plant operates in the green region labeled ‘process control.’ The job of the control system is to keep the process in this region of operation and in most cases, it does. Because of the outside forces or disturbances, a process occasionally will deviate from normal operation into the ‘yellow’ or upset condition. If not mitigated, the disturbance or abnormal situation will continue into the ‘critical situation’ zone. The dotted line in Figure 1 depicts an insidious problem — a problem or upset that develops slowly over time.

Figure 2 illustrates the progression of an abnormal situation and the interaction with failures that need to occur to bring the situation back to normal. Notice the difference in slope in Figure 2 from the dotted line in Figure 1. One of the defining elements for an abnormal situation is the time it takes to develop and the urgency with which a response is required. Each of the different zones requires a different intervention, ranging from normal control action to mechanical shutdown by a Safety Instrumented Shutdown system. The process system, the protective applications and shutdown system and the safety containment system are designed to safeguard the plant from catastrophic events.

The event sequence illustrates the role of plant personnel in preventing a process upset from escalating to a plant shutdown. In the event of a loss of control, the plant personnel must intervene to minimize the impact of a disaster. Failing that, it is up to the SIS system to take action.

Prepared for the worst

With a clear understanding of how abnormal situations develop and the many tools available to help mitigate these situations, plant managers can design for the inevitable. Such a system is seen in Figure 3.

The control system is composed of instrumentation and a distributed control system designed to maintain the process in the normal operating region. Inefficiencies can occur in a process, equipment can fail and a process can drift beyond the optimal. The intent of the asset-monitoring layer is to provide an early warning of pending failures before they become operational concerns.

The alarm system is the operator’s first warning that the control system cannot cope with a pending condition. When properly engineered, the alarm system warns the operator that an action is required. From here, the operator needs to interact with the system to bring the process back to the normal zone of operation.

Next, system interlocks, triggered by field switches or stored boundaries or constraints, may intervene. Typically these interlocks are built into the control logic to prevent equipment damage or worse. Within this category of interlocks is a work process to establish limits. In operations management, the critical, standard and target boundaries of system variables or processes must be clearly understood and defined.

This requires supporting information including the purpose of the measurement, a piping instrumentation diagram reference, equipment constraints, corrosion control limit, safety limit and environmental limit — all stored or referenced so that the database is a complete repository of the information associated with both the variable and the boundary.

The final two layers play an integral part in the protection of life and plant assets, although everyone hopes that the situation never requires these levels. The safety system provides a redundant and final layer of protection that brings the plant to a safe condition. Failing all else, a layer that demands consideration is the one that contains the applications that aid in tracking personnel and mustering those that are evacuated in the case of an emergency.

An integrated safety offering protects your plant, people and assets. Alarm management solutions help operators make better decisions faster when abnormal situations occur. In addition, boundary management solutions help a plant operate within safe limits while striving to maximize profitability. In the event of a safety incident, a real-time location system tracks and locates people and assets while emergency shutdown systems ensure a safe plant shutdown, reducing risk and minimizing damage.

To make an educated decision about holistic safety systems, it helps to understand the regulations and standards that affect your industry and plant. Standards apply to a number of equipment items, including emergency shutdown systems and controls, whereas regulations set requirements for mechanical integrity programs.

The process manufacturing industry is facing real challenges as technology advances, seasoned industry professionals are retiring and the business environment changes. At the same time, ethical and regulatory requirements must be met in terms of maintaining a safe and secure workplace.

Making a clear case for strong-as-steel glass

By Andy Obertanec , L.J. Star, Inc.

In industrial processing facilities, sight glass failures are a major concern. Such failures disrupt production and waste valuable process fluids, and there are further costs involved with cleanup and repairs. More important, sight glass failures can present a significant health and safety hazard to workers.

In just three such incidents, two involving chemical processing facilities and one at a pharmaceutical plant, sight glass failures were responsible for more than $67 million in damages, plus $1.5 million more in lost business due to downtime. More devastating, however, 28 people lost their lives.

The most effective approach to the safe and effective use of sight glasses has proven to be the simplest and the most difficult to practice: proper design, proper installation and proper maintenance. There are many different types of glass, soda-lime being the type used in most non-critical applications. Borosilicate is the most common choice for sight glass windows, especially in chemical, biotech and pharmaceutical processing. The characteristics of borosilicate glass that make it so attractive to the designers of process systems are to be found in its basic chemical and mechanical specifications. These include temperature capabilities up to 500°F, broad-spectrum corrosion resistance, low thermal expansion, and excellent transparency.

Another important characteristic of borosilicate glass is mechanical strength. It’s even stronger than steel in some respects! The tensile strength of untouched glass is 1 million psi. Steel, on the other hand, has a tensile strength of only 60,000 psi. The compression strength of glass is excellent too, about 200,000 psi, but its strength in tension is even more remarkable.

It might be surprising that sight glass more likely fails under tensile stress rather than during compression. That’s because glass is not ductile; it cannot stretch under tensile stress like metal. Even tiny imperfections in a glass window will create stress concentrations, potential failure points. In fact, just the touch of a finger can reduce tensile strength of a virgin glass element from 1 million pounds psi to 1,000 psi.

Another basic characteristic of any form of glass lies in its unfortunate mode of failure under mechanical stress. When glass fails, the failure is typically sudden and catastrophic. Research has shown that glass cracks at five miles per second, producing shards approaching Mach 24.

An alternative approach

An increasingly popular alternative to standard glass windows is the use of mechanically prestressed glass, a relatively new design that avoids most of the failure modes of standard windows by its inherent design characteristics.

A mechanically prestressed window consists of a stainless steel ring encompassing a borosilicate glass disc. The steel ring applies a uniform radial compression to the glass — which is the key to its success. This is achieved during the manufacturing process. First, during the heating, the metal ring expands while glass is borosilicate glass is melted within the metal ring. Then the temperature is further elevated to the temperature where the glass and the metal ring become fused together.

Then, the unit is cooled and the glass hardens. As the cooling continues the metal ring attempts to shrink back to its theoretical size, but the hardened glass prevents this from occurring, the glass having a lower coefficient of expansion. In this way the metal ring is in tension, putting the glass in uniform radial compression.

The reason that this radial compression improves the performance of the glass is that it prevents tensile stress from affecting the glass. That’s because it is almost impossible that outside tensile stress would overcome the strong compressive stress. Under such strong compressive forces the glass, in effect, becomes elastic.

For all the possible problems, the value of conventional sight glasses in process observation applications almost always far outweigh the risks they impose, given that the sight glass will be properly designed, properly installed and properly maintained

Also, it is becoming increasing clear that, for reasons of both safety and ongoing maintenance cost saving, mechanically prestressed windows should be considered for many applications, especially where failure could result in injury, excessive downtime or loss/contamination of costly process fluids.

Author Information
Andy Obertanec, is vice president and COO of L.J. Star, Inc.