Following up on my last blog post, I continue the discussion acknowledging that safety is not trivial or to be taken for granted. It is multi-level and is tied to the long-term success of each project and every client. The first three levels of safety covered were operator, consumer/customer, and product/process. This post covers the remaining two: equipment and environment.
Last time, I concluded noting that, “Engines that start the first time every time, yogurt that stays fresh until the expiration date (or longer!), medical devices that deliver to stringent protocols and exacting regulations, chemicals and food additives and fertilizers that safely and cost-effectively please the market every time are the examples.”
The safety measures that go into the design and deployment of today’s automated production systems and the efforts of the people behind them are the methods and processes that deliver to customers who buy those products with the consistently proven, reliable, and safe outcomes they expect and trust.
Equipment or asset safety is intricately related to the previously discussed elements, or levels. High-functioning equipment that is well-maintained, properly engineered and purposefully designed to match the application for which it is used delivers optimal results with less risk to the operators and the product it produces.
Less manual intervention in this type of equipment means fewer chances for accidents, injuries, and process errors. Effective and well-managed maintenance schemes keep such critical assets running smoothly, costing less in the long run, and providing maximum uptime and availability to continue making product (and money). Total cost of ownership models can demonstrate the significance of choosing the right equipment and of keeping it operating efficiently and properly.
As with process control, we can monitor the equipment condition in real time. This will allow predictive detection of out-of-control conditions (actual or optimal) and enable lower-cost, well-managed repairs or corrections to be implemented when most convenient and prior to any kind of crisis conditions. Equipment that operates more efficiently is inherently safer. And safer equipment makes for good business, good morale, and good sense.
Environmental safety can be the byproduct of all these other safety systems. Keeping processes within control limits will cause the venting of exhaust also within the regulated and planned boundaries. Engineering in the proper seals on the fittings and instruments will reduce or eliminate the possibility of spills and leaks. Further safety planning will seek to contain any potential spills and/or leaks before they pose a hazard. This work needs to be done with the rules and regulations of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state counterparts, along with local municipalities having authority or jurisdiction over these kinds of environmental issues.
Subject matter expertise brought to bear in system design and operation complements the product and technology knowledge necessary to deliver a well-rounded, safe, and long-term vision and strategy for providing worker, customer, equipment, owner, and environmental safety to everyone’s benefit.
It is the job of integrators such as Optimation to concurrently consider and plan for the successful management of both the macro (external) and micro (internal) environmental conditions that could arise so that their mitigation is ensured and the risk to all parties is minimized or nearly eliminated.
Invest in safe equipment, safety training, and safety partners who know and understand these inter-related dimensions in order to create a truly integrated ecosystem of your own that will deliver exactly what you need.