EAM and safety: 5 strategies for success

Turn data into action and ditch the paper to integrate your process.


Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaAn industrial accident occurs when attention drifts, a work process is not performed quite right, or a piece of equipment fails. It is the event that everyone works diligently to prevent. 

But accidents still happen far too often, particularly when maintenance processes depend on manual systems or simple spreadsheets that cannot keep up with the complexities of a modern manufacturing operation. 

When mishaps occur, their impacts go far beyond the immediate concern for an employee’s well-being. Accidents reduce productivity, disrupt work flows, and undercut the cohesion the plant needs to deliver a competitive, profitable product.

Software tools now are available to take control of plant maintenance programs and catch potential hazards and risks before they turn into a real incident. What also emerges is a smarter, streamlined operation that reduces downtime between failures and makes best use of technicians’ valuable time.

$250 billion per year

The human and economic cost of workplace accidents in the United States is astronomical, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 2016, BLS reported 2.9 million workplace injuries and 5,190 workers died across all industries and sectors. OSHA placed the cost to companies and the wider economy at a stunning $250 billion, including $1 billion per week in worker compensation costs. That is a lot of money to be saved with an ounce of prevention.

Apart from the lasting impact of a workplace accident, properly-maintained equipment and clear, consistent safety procedures support a company’s bottom line. A safer workplace helps keep production operations steady, consistent, and reliable, builds a firm’s social license to operate, and keeps workplace relationships on track.

In an OSHA directive, the agency makes a direct correlation between safety and a better—and more profitable—workplace. “Safe environments improve employee morale, which often leads to increased productivity and better service. Lost productivity from injuries and illnesses costs companies $60 billion each year,” OSHA states in an online post.  “OSHA has committed to reducing the rate of lost production by 2% per year, so that companies focused on safety and health can also enjoy a healthy bottom line.”

Safe work environments help to foster the consistency and reliability necessary for building a community, which ultimately aids business growth. Employees are more satisfied and productive when workplaces have with active safety and health leadership to prevent injuries. These places are often rated ‘best places to work’, and their employees return to work more quickly after an injury or illness.

Before and after EAM

Enterprise asset management (EAM) platforms can make a difference in factory or workplace safety. Here are five examples:

    1. Predictive maintenance

Before: Plant engineers relied heavily on corrective maintenance plans that essentially meant fixing things when they started to fail. They used paper-based systems or simple spreadsheets to track inspection and repair histories.

After: EAM delivers a complete, end-to-end preventive and predictive maintenance schedule based on manufacturers’ specifications and up-to-the-minute equipment histories.

    2. Avoiding break-fix

Before: Inspections caught any imminent failure that a technician could see, hear, or smell. Otherwise, the unit got attention when it broke, often leading to weeks of downtime while parts were ordered and delivered.

After: Internet of Things (IoT) sensors spot changes in equipment function that point to deficiencies, inefficiencies, or emerging hazards before human intervention would spot them.

    3. Data mobility

Before: Maintenance shops kept multiple shelves of OEM manuals to guide technicians through their work. The pages were often ripped and covered in grease, and the manuals themselves were hard to maneuver when technicians went onsite. 

After: A mobile EAM system delivers schematics and instructions to tablet devices, producing a particularly powerful efficiency gain when repair personnel are working in remote locations.

    4. Instant updates without paper

Before: Technicians received paper work orders, wrote in their reports and comments as they completed their rounds, then handed their notes off to a clerk or waited in line to enter them on a central terminal at the end of the work day. 

After: A sophisticated series of mobile checklists helps guide repair teams through their work, then allows them to instantly update the record through a series of handy dropdown menus.

    5. An integrated safety record

Before: Senior management could get periodic written updates on equipment performance and maintenance practices, often compiled some time after the failures occurred or the work was done. 

After: An EAM system that integrates with the company’s enterprise software platform gives decision-makers immediate visibility on maintenance costs and performance—and on the implications for operational safety.

An integrated approach to EAM delivers immediate dividends to shop floor safety and productivity. Companies that pay close attention to EAM generally see fewer injuries, with less downtime and associated costs. If you still have not made the shift, there is a good chance that if you do, you can improve your firm’s safety record, while simultaneously bringing savings and productivity improvements right back to the bottom line. 

Kevin Price is the Infor EAM technical evangelist and strategist at the Infor EAM development hub in Greenville, S.C.


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