Designing and implementing a well-designed plan for maintaining assets has three goals: To optimize asset performance, control costs, and eliminate or reduce safety risks to personnel and the environment. Failing to properly manage these needs can lead to an uncertain future. This is where safety-based reliability consulting comes in.
Workplace injuries and equipment failures regularly cause expensive delays, individual hardships, and legal costs. However, partnering with an outside safety-based asset management and reliability consulting team can mitigate risks by creating a comprehensive plan that integrates safety management throughout existing reliability and maintenance programs.
What Is Safety-Based Reliability Consulting?
A reliability-based safety consulting team is a third party that integrates safety components into day-to-day reliability and maintenance activities. This is often initiated by conducting the proper safety, reliability, and maintenance (SRM) assessments and developing appropriate risk-based programs and strategies. At SEAM Group, our team of experts will thoroughly examine the current state of your business, understanding your entire asset ecosystem and standard operating practices.
At the end of the process, SEAM Group provides you the findings and recommendations that support the planning, development, and implementation of your strategic program.
Benefits of Safety-Based Consulting
Applying risk-based strategies to an asset management program incorporates steps and processes that bolster employee safe work practices while also reducing the risk of equipment failures and unplanned downtime. Building solid safety practices and a governed safety management program will result in improved performance and productivity for both your assets and personnel.
Increased Asset Awareness
Complacency is often a leading contributor to asset downtime and workplace injuries. Over time your employees can become too familiar with their surroundings and begin to ignore specific risks that may lead to safety issues. For example, your technicians who regularly maintain production lines for long periods of time may overlook repairs or temporary solutions that were implemented in the past as part of a corrective maintenance task.
These temporary fixes or “band-aids” are often left in place and not properly repaired through follow-up work or scheduled maintenance activities, introducing a certain failure point in the future. These fixes can also result in accidents or other safety-related incidents related to machine guarding, photo eyes, or other e-stop functionality.
These conditions are a natural occurrence in most organizations but can be overcome by governance, audits, and diligence. Your personnel must be regularly reminded that failing to be alert and follow procedures will eventually lead to safety and asset performance issues.
Trusted consulting partners can bring a fresh, non-biased view of the current practices, performance, and risk within your facility. These experts can assist managers in identifying gaps in safely executing work, as well as overlooked asset care.
Increased Safety in the Workplace
For a facility to safely meet goals and objectives, its core DNA must be composed of safety, reliability, and maintenance elements working together to form what we call The Performance Triad.
Organizations often treat Safety, Reliability, and Maintenance (SRM) as independent operational units. This organizational hierarchy creates a significant loss in operational efficiency and allows unidentified risks and failure points to go unaddressed.
An effective strategic consulting partner provides subject matter expertise and best-practice knowledge that integrates the overlapping goals, methodologies, systems, and approaches of the three disciplines that drive organizational excellence.
Implementing the proper risk mitigation strategies and optimized safety-based processes will result in a safer workplace, leading to fewer production delays caused by damaged assets and worker injury.
Enhanced Asset Reliability
When a critical asset fails, delays can result in large losses in production and revenue. When your organization follows integrated SRM practices, it can greatly boost asset uptime, reduce maintenance cost savings, and improve personnel safety.
Decreased Unplanned Downtime
Unintended asset failures and poor asset design can have substantial impacts on production, quality, costs, and meeting customer expectations. Implementing steps that increase asset reliability and operational safety produces dependable repeatable results reducing unplanned downtime while also affecting your facility’s bottom line.
SRM strategies should be implemented throughout an asset’s lifecycle starting with the capital asset planning process and continuing until asset decommissioning. All three disciplines have an impact on asset performance.
For example, consider the positioning of energy isolation points that are sometimes placed in difficult-to-access locations. This decreases the performance of the asset while increasing the risk of safety incidents for personnel performing the maintenance procedures.
Maintenance Strategies for Safety Management
By engaging a reliability consulting team, your organization benefits from strategies focused on maximizing uptime and equipment reliability. Proper asset maintenance plans depend on an
asset’s criticality, functionality, complexity, redundancy, age, part availability, and general reliability principles. Consultants can help put these pieces together to ensure a comprehensive strategy.
The Safety Risks of Reactive Maintenance
Maintenance strategies have a significant impact on safety and performance. Reactive maintenance is simply ineffective for your organization’s most critical assets. This approach to asset care involves simply waiting to service equipment until it affects production or breaks down altogether. Reactive maintenance is more expensive, can lead to additional damage to other parts of the system, and has the potential to result in significant downtime. Workplace safety is another concern when employing a reactive maintenance strategy.
Some recent studies have indicated that as many as 60% of accidents occur during the execution of reactive maintenance. In addition to unsafe maintenance activities, improperly maintained assets can overheat. Loose connections, damaged protection mechanisms, or failing insulation in energized assets may cause arc flashes and other hazards. Incorporating a safety culture into work execution improves the safety awareness of reliability engineers and maintenance technicians.
For example, any safety risks identified during work execution should result in a review of the risk, the root cause leading to the current state, and adjusting the procedures or requesting design updates to eliminate the unsafe condition.
Preventive or scheduled maintenance is a planned approach often based on a timeframe or meter-based intervals provided by the manufacturer. Almost all mechanical devices require regular upkeep and some repetitive activities, such as lubrication and alignments to maintain proper performance and optimal energy utilization.
Proper maintenance reduces failures that can create safety hazards for employees, the facilities, and the environment. Applying a preventive approach also allows time for proper planning and execution of work.
When work is properly planned, scheduled, and executed, your technicians have adequate time to ensure the use of safe and optimal replacement parts. This ensures safety protocols and lockout tagout protocols are attached to work activities, and ensures that any work permitting, PPE, and procedures are properly followed and executed outside of the constraints of emergency “get it running quickly” conditions.
Incorporating predictive maintenance approaches into your organization’s maintenance strategy boosts asset performance and decreases the need for intensive maintenance activities.
Any time technicians interact with an asset and often “open up” the asset or disassemble it, it introduces the potential to further damage the asset, introduce outside elements into sealed components of the asset, and introduce potential safety risks to personnel. Using PdM techniques such as vibration analysis, ultrasound, IR inspections, and motor and oil testing provides insights into the performance of many types of asset classes.
The predictive (and sometimes prescriptive) analysis can monitor the performance of the asset and provide early indicators that the state of the asset is changing allowing for proper timing of maintenance activities prior to asset degradation without having to “guess” at an interval in which the maintenance needs to be performed.
Developing Risk Mitigation Strategies with a Professional Partner
Finding a team with ample experience and advanced knowledge is critical when looking for a safety-based asset reliability consulting partner. SEAM Group is a global company that assists facilities across industries in asset performance optimization and safety efforts. Our experts understand the implications of asset reliability and can develop workable strategies to meet operational goals.
Contact us to learn more about the benefits of a safety consultation partnership.