Categories: Condition Monitoring,Machinery Maintenance,Other Topics

Does Improved Reliability Translate to a Safer Plant?

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By on October 20, 2016

As a technical trainer for VibrAlign, I do a lot of reading in order to hopefully continuously improve. I am also very curious.  Quite often I run across articles I believe are worth sharing. This article was on LinkedIn, an IDCON reliability and maintenance discussion written by Mr. Ken Latino. In case you have not had opportunity to read it, I would like to share it with you now.

Ken writes; “I am often asked if there is a relationship between improved reliability and safety? There is certainly anecdotal evidence that suggests that there is a link. I’m sure anyone reading this can attest to similar beliefs from their work environment. But I was particularly interested to see if there was more definitive research that can back up these beliefs with hard data. I was able to find numerous articles that provided additional support data. However, I saw one from Ron Moore that really stood out to me. Ron has been a respected Reliability practitioner and consultant for many years. This article, which is posted all over the internet, shows more than just anecdotal conclusions on this relationship. Ron presents a clear mathematical relationship that shows us that being more proactive and reliable also makes us safer.

A Reliable Plant is a Safe Plant is a Cost Effective Plant

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Let’s explore this relationship in more detail and see why this might be the case.

First of all, when work is identified and planned ahead of time, we can build safety into the job. We have the time to think through any potential hazards and to get everyone involved in the process. Many facilities employ hazard recognition tools to identify potential safety traps before starting work. However, when things fail unexpected, we are not afforded this luxury. Typically, there is a rush to get the equipment up and running which adds pressure and time sensitivity to the equation. Perhaps we might have to do the job in adverse weather conditions rather that picking the time proactively when conditions are more conducive for safe work. I think we can all agree that planned work is safer work.

However, I do not think that is the largest contributor to this improved relationship between reliability and safety. While planned work is indeed safer work, you still have to do the work. If you have to do work, there is still a chance for injury. The real benefits come from not having to do the work at all by eliminating the need to do the repair in the first place. My good friend and mentor, Winston Ledet calls this Defect Elimination. Think about it, if the equipment runs more reliably and there are less repairs to be made, one could argue that there are simply less opportunities to put people in harm’s way. Winston has decades of research and data that demonstrates that lower failure rates translate into less opportunities for injury.

And by the way, improved safety is not the only byproduct of a reliable plant. When equipment runs reliably (less defects), we are more likely to make a better quality product. Longer runs equal more production, higher quality, and increased yields. Reliability is truly the foundation for any world class manufacturer. If you are struggling with safety performance, quality issues and low yields, perhaps you should be looking at your plant’s reliability performance for the answers.”

About the Author

Mac was a Journeyman Millwright at a Kimberly-Clark paper mill in Washington State before moving into a Maintenance Team Leader position. Later, he moved to Kentucky where he went to work for Wausau Paper as Maintenance Team Leader on a new mill start-up. This is where Mac was first introduced to VibrAlign. “I was so impressed with the people, passion, and products of VibrAlign. I had always hoped to one day give back some of the knowledge I have been fortunate enough to gain from others in my field. VibrAlign has given me that opportunity.”

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