Battle supply chain, inflation, and retention issues

U.S. inflation remains near a 40-year high. Corporate America has seen prices skyrocket for materials coupled with a shaky supply chain and restless workforce without training.

In speaking with our customers, we find a common trend of corporate discussions centered around:

  • Impact of turnover on safety
  • Effects of supply chain challenges
  • Need to get results from technology investments
  • Focus on sustainability

Forward-thinking companies are focused on safety, reliability, and maintenance as keys to combat mounting external pressures.

Mitigate the safety risks associated with employee turnover

While the job market remains strong and the competition for talent continues, turnover and vacant roles might leave you exposed to safety risks. OSHA statistics report that 40 percent of workers who are injured have been on the job less than a year. The cost of work-related injuries varies depending on the specifics of the incident and are certain to impact the employee and business involved.

So, how do you mitigate safety risks in our current labor market? This is an extensive topic, but I want to focus on three areas you can immediately impact: Training, LOTO (lockout/tagout), and maintenance optimization.

Training

Skills and knowledge are powerful tools for your people. The investment required to provide essential training pales in comparison to the cost of injuries, damages, and unplanned downtime.

While specific training needs are determined by your operating environment, we highly recommend ensuring your team completes NFPA 70E training requirements for qualified persons. In this article, Jay Smith covers key learnings from the qualified persons training which range from using precautionary techniques for working around hazards, to assessing risk and selecting appropriate risk controls.

I’d also recommend this piece from our Safety Manager, Maggie Murphy, as she provides great tips to empower new employees to perform their work safely from the start. 

Lockout/Tagout

A key aspect of a compliant safety program and a strong training curriculum should be Lockout/Tagout. LOTOrelated issues are one of the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in 2021. Common reasons include inadequate machine-specific procedures, lack of training for new employees, failure to stop equipment, failure to apply locks and tags, and failure to conduct annual reviews of energy control procedures per OSHA’s guidance and recommendations.

Protecting your people and assets requires a combination of procedures and training, otherwise, you are left exposed to the potentially devastating effects of a LOTO incident.

SEAM Group offers various electrical safety training courses, as well as LOTO procedures development, updates, and audits. We also provide a digital LOTO solution through our ViewPoint technology which takes safety and accountability to the next level.

Staying ahead of supply change issues with maintenance optimization

Production and shipping times are less and less predictable each day. The delays underscore the importance of a solid maintenance strategy and on-hand spare parts for critical equipment.  

First, let’s discuss maintenance optimization. Your maintenance strategy should include condition-based monitoring (CbM), a strategy that can be effective in delivering a high-return investment to protect your most critical equipment.

Furthermore, CbM also helps organizations operate safely, boost reliability, realize energy savings, and remain compliant. The CbM approach we implement with customers include:

  • Infrared inspections
  • Vibration testing
  • Ultrasound monitoring
  • Motor and oil analysis
  • ViewPoint technology for record keeping, energy savings, and repair tracking

Optimization-driven organizational leaders use leaner, pressure-packed moments to bring their focus back to the basics of safety, reliability, and maintenance. Let the news of inflation, supply chain issues, and employee retention challenges be catalysts for positive change in your organization.

While external pressures continue to mount, forward-thinking companies remain focused on safety, reliability, and maintenance as keys to combat uncertainty.

Unlock the power of your technology investments

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) tools and in particular Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) have been around since the 1960s via first generation punch cards.

In recent decades, Asset Performance Management (APM) and other reliability and scheduling tools have been widely adopted. Corporate leaders were promised immediate payback from increased uptime and reduced maintenance costs. Yet most customers we speak with have failed to realize these promises due to ineffective planning around processes, people, and the technology.

When a company invests in EAM and CMMS technologies, the expected outcomes include efficiencies in maintenance workflows and workforce allocation, as well as enhanced data availability to make maintenance and reliability decisions. Communication and information sharing are also expected to improve with these technologies, which is especially important for teams spread across facilities and sites.

As the great resignation continues and experienced maintenance staff head into retirement, you risk losing critical information leaving you exposed to inefficiencies and knowledge gaps. It is imperative that your EAM and CMMS systems are configured to meet your specific needs and integrate seamlessly into your operations so data can be effectively captured. And speaking of data, data integrity is everything: Quality in, quality out.  

If machine learning, IoT, and Industry 4.0, are strategic discussion topics around your leadership table, then your next area of focus needs to be digitization. Evaluate your technology stack, to make way for digitization, your tech stack needs to be:

  • Aligned with organizational process flows
  • Integrated across all systems
  • Optimized with performance metrics fully documented and communicated
  • A key piece of your training
  • A driving factor enabling results tracking and continuous improvement

As you think about your technology investment, the answer to the following question will guide your next steps. Do you have a strategic asset management plan in place? If yes, is it being followed? If not, you need one for immediate and sustained success.

With proper technology deployment and integration comes sustainability

And here is where it comes full circle. A properly planned and deployed technology investment, coupled with a proactive training approach, will position you to avoid waste related with safety incidents, unplanned downtime, inefficient workflows, critical spares stockouts or overstock, and early retirement of assets.

Technology can also help you quantify energy savings. One of my favorite examples in this area involves our longstanding partnership with a leading company in the food industry. We have worked with this company for nearly two decades on their CbM program, and thanks to our proprietary ViewPoint platform, we can quantify and report critical information including energy savings.

Since the data tracked through ViewPoint is seamlessly integrated into their data ecosystem through our API, this customer can easily access the data captured by our team and make it immediately actionable. Over our years of partnership, we have tracked more than 70,000 infrared-related issues with a 98% closeout rate! Additionally, thanks to early issue detection through infrared inspections we have tracked $19 million in energy savings for our customer.

“ViewPoint helps us track infrared inspections, post inspection repairs, and data for 40,000 assets in 250+ locations. Through our SEAM Group partnership, we can track energy cost savings of more than $1 million annually. This justifies our program and helps us deliver on our green energy goals.”

Sustainability is not just a trending issue. It’s time to get serious about your long-term goals and how an integrated safety, reliability, and maintenance approach can help you achieve them.

Now, let’s talk about parts optimization. Even top-class maintenance organizations deal with unplanned downtime. Will you be ready? Key considerations for a parts inventory approach include:

  • Managing item master files
  • Inventory process and material management
  • Bill of material analysis
  • Factoring in lead times, supply options for parts
  • Storeroom processes

Having a thorough plan for parts inventory can provide the following outcomes:

  • Reduced downtime
  • Meet throughput goals
  • Quicker repair times
  • Improved ability to track spare parts costs and maintenance budgets

No matter what the rest of the year brings, focusing on safety, maintenance, and reliability wins will give you confidence in your approach for 2022 and beyond.

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