Improving Productivity without Compromising Plant Safety

Our process safety systems team alerted me to a great study on process safety. The Automation.com site shares an Aberdeen Group December 2010 study, A Roadmap for a Safe and Productive Plant. The research study:

…surveyed more than 230 manufacturing executives to understand how the industry leaders are able to improve productivity without compromising plant safety.

According to the research, the two biggest drivers for a focus on safety are:

…the need to be in compliance with safety mandates as well as mitigate the risks of an adverse event.

Four key performance indicators were developed to identify best-in-class (top 20%), industry average (middle 50%), and laggard (bottom 30%) manufacturers. The four were overall equipment effectiveness, repeat accident rate (annual repeat accidents/annual total accidents), injury frequency rates, and unscheduled asset downtime.

The study found three key factors that separate the best-in-class manufacturers from the rest. Two involve people and culture, and the third, technology. The first key factor on the people side of the ledger is to establish executive leadership endorsed by senior management with authority and accountability:

…to make changes to the processes, collaboration and culture…

The second element is the establishment of a cross-functional team to execute the vision established by the executive leadership, since it will touch many people and processes.    

With respect to technology, the third key take away from the report is:

Best-in-Class manufacturers have invested in the latest technology which integrates the safety system with the plant automation system onto a single platform. This single platform allows centralized view of safety data and enables the operator to control both systems through a centralized portal.

A common interface allows a centralized view of safety data and enables the operator to control both systems through one portal, which may provide earlier warnings to hazardous conditions and overall increased visibility to the process and field device diagnostics. Having a single platform also provides common engineering, maintenance, and support tools to improve productivity.

Safety instrumented systems such as the DeltaV SIS process safety system have achieved the physical separation and independence of safety and basic process control as required by the IEC 61511 international safety standard with the integration of information required to “improve productivity without compromising plant safety.”

The report closes:

In addition, a single platform yields the ability to perform safety functions while simultaneously operating the plant and therefore improving productivity and minimizing accidents.

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