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Production involves different processes that run concurrently or independently, with operators and technicians handling several tasks at one go. They monitor the working conditions of machinery and the quality of products. As such, plant floors are ever busy, making safety a priority for companies. They establish and enforce safety regulations to enhance the consistency of processes, eliminate workplace injuries and minimize breakdowns.
Human error is among the leading causes of plant floor accidents leading to workplace injuries, equipment and product damage, pollution (non-compliance) and death. Human errors may arise from fatigue, slips and lapses, psychological stress, technical mistakes, or violation of safety regulations. Reducing human error and accidents on the plant floor goes beyond establishing a safety mindset among employees. Below are tips for reducing human errors and accidents on the plant floor.
1. Automate processes
There are several automation technologies for improving the consistency and accuracy of processes while minimizing human intervention. They range from basic control systems for starting, sequencing and stopping production to complex robots with artificial intelligence which perform repetitive tasks without fatigue. Conveyors and autonomous mobile robots replace forklifts for material handling, transporting large loads. Advanced robots have visual guides to enable them to navigate obstacles, thereby reducing plant floor collisions.
Automation systems are programmed to perform tasks following specific procedures, leaving no room for errors. They are equipped with automatic safety switches to stop processes when production conditions are violated. Automation reduces operator exposure to moving equipment parts and improves material handling.
Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are platforms for automating maintenance workflows. Companies upload equipment safety information, manuals and standard checklists that outline maintenance activities and intervals. Technicians navigate CMMS programs on mobile devices, allowing them to access accurate maintenance information promptly. CMMS solutions reduce maintenance mistakes and standardize operations, guaranteeing uniformity.
2. Develop standard operating procedures
The human factor in production means that individuals may skip or modify procedures to complete tasks faster. In some cases, the company provides mismatched safety and operational policies, breeding confusion during implementation. The incoherence of policies and ambiguity of procedures lead to more errors, more accidents and frequent production stops.
Companies need to compile all procedures in a single document, providing detailed instruction for accomplishing each task on the production floor. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) increase the consistency of floor operations while leaving little or no room for errors. These documents use straightforward language to outline step-by-step guidelines, reducing the misinterpretation of policies.
Technicians de-energize production equipment when performing routine or emergency maintenance. To protect technicians and equipment, companies use equipment-specific lockout tagout (LOTO) procedures. They outline how to shut down processes, block energy sources during maintenance, tag equipment under repairs, startup procedures after maintenance and authorization protocols. In case of a technical mistake or unplanned re-energization of the system, lockout devices block the hazardous energy and signal technicians of impending danger. They halt the repair process and resume once they remove the hazard.
3. Audit facilities and perform conclusive root cause analysis
Equipment design and plant floor layout contribute to accidents. Proper arrangement of production equipment facilitates seamless continuity of processes while enhancing the safety of employees. When designing plant floor equipment, companies should consider ergonometrics. Equipment should be sized appropriately, fitted with protective safety guards and emergency switches. The plant floor should have adequate lighting, clearly marked walkways and visible safety signs.
Frequent facility audits enable companies to identify flaws on the production floor that escalate human errors. They inspect all machinery, check maintenance records and verify compliance of processes to internal and statutory regulations. Through facility audits, companies identify accidents that occur frequently and their causes. Insights from these audits facilitate future optimization plans, focusing on minimizing the impact of human errors in the production process.
Facilities may fail to investigate minor accidents since some operators or technicians underreport or disregard them. However, it is prudent that companies develop an accident reporting format that captures any incident irrespective of its magnitude. Accident reports enable companies to perform conclusive root cause analysis for the elimination of inherent hazards. Results of root cause analysis can be used to tailor safety training.
4. Conduct extensive staff training
Hiring a pool of skilled employees is not sufficient surety that human errors and accidents will happen. Over time, plant floor operations overwhelm the employees as they struggle to hit production targets amid other personal distractions. Companies upgrade machinery and adopt newer technologies as they strive to improve productivity and enhance compliance. Staff training is a continuous process that companies utilize to strengthen the technical capabilities of staff, introduce and explain safety policy changes and the consequences of non-compliance.
Through on-the-job maintenance training programs, technicians gain invaluable skills in troubleshooting and correcting equipment defects within a short time without errors. Technicians become aware of the safety procedures and understand how to exploit technological tools and protective equipment to eradicate plant floor accidents. Companies use training programs to equip operators with fundamental machinery diagnosis and care skills for identifying and correcting minor errors independently.
Reducing human errors on the plant floor is a collective responsibility that requires proactive action by staff and the management. The company provides correct work tools, trains staff, and guarantees the safety of facilities. Employees should follow safety regulations, report defects and accidents, use machinery correctly and adhere to standard operating procedures.
*This article is written by Bryan Christiansen. Bryan is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.
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Workplace injuries are frighteningly common. While incident rates have declined over time, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace accidents in both 2018 and 2019. Few things are as important as the safety of your employees, so facilities must prevent these incidents.
Every facility has unique conditions and concerns, but some steps can improve safety in any industrial workplace. Here are five of the leading ways you can keep your employees safe.
1. Prioritize Safety Training
The most crucial step in improving workplace safety is providing thorough training. Make sure you teach all employees proper safety procedures as well as why these policies matter. If they understand the risks that your protocols prevent, they’ll be more likely to follow them.
In addition to general safety training, you should instruct workers on the specific considerations for their position.
For example, anyone who has to operate a forklift should receive additional training on safe forklift operations. It’s not enough to only go over these procedures upon hiring, either. Hold regular refresher sessions to ensure no one forgets crucial safety procedures.
2. Take Advantage of Technology
Even with thorough training, employees won’t be able to avoid all hazards. New technologies can help you account for these blind spots. For instance, wearable tech can detect when a forklift or other employee is around the corner, even if a worker can’t see or hear them. The device can then alert them to stop, preventing a collision.
Similar devices can monitor signs of fatigue in workers. If it senses they’re nearing a state where it would be dangerous to work, it can warn them to take a break. Since overexertion and bodily reactions are the most common workplace injuries, these warnings can lead to substantial improvements.
3. Maintain All Machinery
Machinery is one of the most common sources of injury in an industrial workplace. When equipment malfunctions, it can pose a threat to even the most careful employees. To prevent these accidents, you should perform regular maintenance on all machinery.
Maintaining equipment on a schedule is safer and often more cost-effective than using it until it breaks. An even better method is predictive maintenance, which uses sensors to predict when a machine will need maintenance. This avoids unnecessary repairs, saves time and money, and prevents dangerous breakdowns.
4. Create an Emergency Response Plan
While addressing these everyday hazards, remember to prepare for emergencies, too. Roughly one quarter of businesses would be unable to reopen after a disaster. You can avoid becoming part of that statistic by creating and practicing an emergency response plan.
You don’t need a response plan to every type of disaster, but you should craft one for the most likely scenarios in your area. Identify which emergencies are most likely, then develop a response and recovery plan. Remember to train all employees in this plan and run drills periodically so everyone knows what to do should an emergency arise.
5. Foster a Culture of Responsibility and Safety
Finally, you should try to cultivate a company culture of safety. If safety is part of your workplace’s atmosphere, employees will make better choices and spot potential hazards as they arise. While a “culture of safety” is difficult to quantify, there are steps you can take to foster one.
Ensure all managers and team leaders lead by example by going above and beyond company safety policies. You should also establish and promote a straightforward, two-way communication system so workers can express their concerns.
You could also consider instituting a reward system for employees who exhibit safe behavior or recommend valuable safety changes.
Keep Your Workers Safe
Industrial facilities are often dangerous places to work, but they don’t have to be. If you follow these steps, you can create a safe work environment for all employees. You’ll protect your workers as well as improve efficiency and morale.
This article is written by Devin Partida. Devin is a tech writer with an interest in the IIot and manufacturing. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.
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The industrial and manufacturing sector is most affected by workplace accidents. Statistics show that at least 100,000 workers in the manufacturing industry are victims of job-related injuries every year. That’s why a company needs to have a culture that promotes safety. Here are a few tips that can help increase the safety of everyone in the company:
1. Always report any unsafe conditions.
As an employee, you get to interact with the equipment in the facility regularly. Therefore, you can know when something can lead to an accident. In such a case, report the matter to the supervisor. Supervisors are obligated to provide employees with a safe working environment, so they will take action to address the problem.
For example, a wet floor may not seem like a big deal on paper, but it can lead to slips and falls. Report the problem no matter how small it looks to make the working environment safe for everyone. As a supervisor, encourage your employees to report these unsafe conditions instead of terming them as small or frivolous.
2. Ensure Proper Usage of Equipment
Most industrial work-related injuries are a result of misuse of the tools and machines. As an employee, you should always use a machine for its intended purpose and nothing else. Most manufacturers provide instructions for usage. Use the instructions to operate the machinery.
Furthermore, always keep the working tools clean and inspect them before using. For example, a loose bolt on a wheel of a lorry may be a recipe for disaster. Checking the truck before leaving will ensure you notice the problem and fix it.
3. Always Wear Protective Gear
In a manufacturing firm, it is only logical to always have your PPEs on while working. Wear a helmet, gumboots, and mask if need be. As an employer, ensure that no employee in the company operates without wearing their protective gear. Don’t forget to inspect your equipment before every shift to ensure they are okay for maximum protection.
4. Don’t Overwork Your Employees.
Every industrial and manufacturing firm uses electrical tools. These tools require alertness, and a few mistakes can lead to fatal injuries. When someone is too tired, they are prone to making mistakes, and these mistakes can lead to serious work-related injuries.
For that reason, ensure that your workers take breaks throughout the day to maintain alertness. A brief break can ensure your employees return to their job alert and refreshed to complete the day.
5. Keep the working space organized and exits clear
When you keep the working space organized and clear, the probability of work-related injuries reduces drastically. A disorganized working area will limit the space you should use to lift heavy objects the right way. Additionally, keeping the exits clear will make sure you have somewhere to escape to in case of an emergency.
For David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Engage EHS, any business person worth their salt will have an in-depth knowledge of health and safety policy and practice. This is because health and safety is not only an end in itself, it is a means to an end towards a more efficient business that has an improved bottom line and greater brand loyalty amongst consumers.
Remember, safety starts with you. Therefore, be sure to keep these tips in mind while working in an industrial or manufacturing environment.
This article was written by Holly Shaw. Holly is a freelance industrial writer who focuses on quality industrial equipment and modern manufacturing. Holly is currently writing for SummitMT.
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If you’re in the metals industry, you don’t need us to tell you what your challenges are. You’re living them every day, whether it’s your supply chain, the ability to keep up with increasing demand, operating inefficiencies or COVID turning the world upside down. While these may be common, across-the-board challenges, no two companies in the metals industry are being affected by the same issues in exactly the same way.
That’s why we are not a cookie-cutter consulting firm.
When companies come to us, 9 times out of 10, they already have a pretty good idea of the challenges across their company workflows. Most are looking to us to help break bottlenecks in their operation, find ways we can help them do more with what they have, and many times, do more with less.
We roll up our sleeves and work with you to find the hidden opportunities within your operation that will allow you to minimize or eliminate bottlenecks leading to greater efficiency.
Download our eBook Challenges for the Metals Industry: How USC Consulting Group Can Help to learn the strategies USC is applying to help our clients overcome obstacles, like:
- COVID-19 safety protocol challenges
- Supply chain disruptions
- Demand management decisions
- Excessive cycle time or time for changeovers
- Fluctuating inventory
- Supplier uncertainty
We will help you find hidden opportunities to bolster your operational efficiency.
If you are experiencing any of these challenges in your operations and would like to consult with our team about your specific issues, contact us today.
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The trend towards automation is progressing all the time. With the advent of COVID-19 creating employment concerns amid a changing workforce, the role of automation in manufacturing has taken on new meaning.
Now, robotics looks to automate processes for the increased safety and productivity of the modern factory. There are many ways that automation trends are reshaping the industry. Here, we will look at a list of these trends and the ways they are altering global trade.
From faster processes to 3D printing innovations, automation in manufacturing looks much different than it has in past decades. Here’s what you should know.
1. Making Processes Faster and More Efficient
One report found that automation at a macroeconomic scale could increase global manufacturing GDP between 0.8% and 1.4% per year. While those numbers might seem small, the overall impact in economic growth is substantial.
Paired with increased productivity, automation offers the following benefits:
- Labor cost savings
- Improved safety
- Enhanced quality
- Overall efficiency
Currently, substantial losses in production time and energy occur in fighting human error and clunky procedures. With automated systems, efficiency can be integrated amidst better processes for fighting energy drains like friction. This translates to potentially millions of dollars in increased revenues for manufacturers that adopt automation technology.
2. Collecting Data Through Digital Twinning
Improving manufacturing processes is possible through the trend of digital twinning changing the manufacturing landscape. Digital twinning involves virtually modeling the manufacturing process alongside the real-world system. Doing so allows companies to gather valuable data and models for simulation and experimentation.
With 50% of large manufacturers set to utilize this tech by 2021, digital twinning represents the future of manufacturing. And for good reason. Up to 30% of improvements in product quality and product cycle time are possible thanks to digital twinning, allowing companies to pair data with experimentation for revenue-boosting results.
3. Increasing Safety Through Robotics
The emergence of COVID-19 changed the way businesses manage a workspace. This is true as well for factory floors where workers have to adopt sanitation and social distancing measures. Robotics allows for the safe implementation of these policies without increased human risk.
A series of roles are now increasingly being filled by robots to allow for greater safety procedures. These include:
- Assembly Line — Working side-by-side with humans are automated systems known as co-bots. On the assembly line, these co-bots are enhancing productivity while making social distancing increasingly possible.
- Sanitation — With COVID-19 concerns, more janitorial robots are being integrated to help sanitize workspaces. These robots go beyond the average Roomba, ensuring the cleanliness of shared spaces for employee safety.
- Heavy Lifting — The constant movement and shuffling of parts and packaging in the manufacturing industry create risks for human workers. Robots can reduce that risk while efficiently moving and hauling heavy objects across a factory.
With sanitation and dangerous work now being filled by robots, factory workers can enjoy a greater level of safety. This not only increases productivity for manufacturers but reduces liability risks and costs as well.
4. Focusing on Logistics for Better Processes
Artificial intelligence. The term might invoke fear in movie-going circles, but the integration of AI in manufacturing to enhance the logistics of every process is reshaping the industry.
AI relies on the accumulation of manufacturing data to provide streamlined logistics workflow. This means sensors, digital twinning, analytics, and more to truly understand and predict factory success. With each new data set, an AI can better learn a system, inform technicians of when maintenance is needed, and build better models for an effective process.
With all the implications for manufacturing improvement, AI is one trend of industrial robotics sure to last long into the future.
5. Changing the Manufacturing Process Through 3D Printing
Automation of manufacturing is changing through the increasing use of additive processes, such as 3D printing. This automation trend has a huge impact on manufacturing of all types of products, with a wide range of materials including sustainable and plant-based options possible.
3D printing uses a digital blueprint to then produce a product from the bottom up, bit-by-bit. By building in this way, the efficiency and durability of parts can be maximized even when using alternative materials. This process means better products at potentially cheaper production costs as the technology improves. The ability for sustainable materials to be substituted in production also has beneficial implications for the environment.
The Changing Landscape of Manufacturing
As the world integrates new automation technology, manufacturers look to reap the benefits. From more efficient practices to better building techniques, manufacturing in the modern world has made substantial headway towards safety and sustainability. These technological trends enhance the safety and productivity of any manufacturing workforce, but the question has to be asked—how will automation affect displaced workers?
Currently, humans and robotics are working side-by-side to deliver better solutions. However, only time will tell how workers adapt to increased automation in the new landscape of manufacturing technologies.
This article is written by guest author Beau Peters. View more of Beau’s articles here.
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Being aware of safety principles does not materially improve one’s safety, but being in the right state of mind does. In other words, talking about safety, thinking about safety, having cards that remind us of safety are not effective unless they change our state of mind. Safe Start International has identified four common States of Mind that cause, or contribute to critical errors, namely: Rushing, Frustration, Fatigue, and Complacency. Creating a safety culture is a continuous battle with frequent states of mind common to human nature. In today’s Covid19 concerned climate, two of these seem particularly relevant – rushing and frustration.
In the 1970’s, the Princeton Seminary conducted a study on the effects of time pressure and helpful behavior. In the experiment, seminary students were assigned to give a sermon on the parable of the Good Samaritan in an auditorium across campus.
In order to study the effects of being in a hurry on service, some students were told to hurry – that their audience was already waiting (a high hurry situation). Some students were told that they had enough time if they left right away (an intermediate hurry situation). Some students were told they had more than enough time before their presentation would start (low hurry).
As the students journeyed across campus, they each encountered an actor who was placed in an alleyway who appeared destitute, severely hurt, and clearly in need of assistance. The study revealed that only 10% of the students in the high hurry condition stopped to help the victim. The intermediate hurry students fared better at 45%, while the students in the low hurry condition helped the stranger 63% of the time.
The researchers concluded, “A person not in a hurry may stop and offer help to a person in distress. A person in a hurry is likely to keep going. Ironically, he is likely to keep going even if he is hurrying to speak on the parable of the Good Samaritan, thus inadvertently confirming the point of the parable. . . Thus thinking about the Good Samaritan did not increase helping behavior, but being in a hurry decreased it.”
The Princeton Seminary study proved that rushing causes us to experience a phenomenon known as “narrowing the cognitive map.” When we rush, we miss important details in our environment that cause us to make critical errors in judgement resulting in us not choosing the highest and best choices for ourselves or others. These errors in judgement make us more susceptible to injury and less aware of other people’s needs.
Einstein proved that time is relative, however time feels pretty constant for most of us. What is not constant is how we each approach our use of time, how we react to time pressures, and the degree to which we allow time pressures to change the cognitive map of our surroundings.
Frustration is often the result of external stresses and anxieties and can result in distraction. It is frustrating watching our 401k values drop like a rock. Anxiety is felt in every bare shelved supermarket aisle. Worrying about job stability is stressful. As external stresses rise beware of frustration which also has the ability to narrow our cognitive map, making us less aware of our surroundings and more prone to injury and injuring others.
A few years ago I decided to do some home repairs during a time I was experiencing high frustration and significant levels of stress. While working with a ladder, I stepped backwards without looking and fell into a window well. My head hit cement and I crashed up against a glass window. Fortunately, I climbed out with only minor bruises and cuts, but I was shaken and knew I could not safely continue to do home repairs in my frustrated state of mind. My cognitive map was compromised, so I set down my tools for the day.
For some people, frustration can lead to anger, and in the business place, anger is almost never a good state of mind to lead from. Anger is a two edged sword that hurts the one who wields it as much or more than the one who is wounded by it. Anger damages culture one outburst at a time. Decisions made in anger are often viewed in hindsight as poor, uninformed, and hasty.
Being in the right state of mind is the foundation of safety and for service. And isn’t working safely just another form of service to ourselves, our loved ones, and those we work with? When you find yourself rushing, frustrated, fatigued or complacent, please put your tools down.
For help building strong safety cultures and improving operational performance, turn to the management consulting experts at USC Consulting Group. Stay safe and keep serving.
This article was written by USC Management Consultant and Subject Matter Expert David Newman.
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No manufacturing company can reach its full potential unless its people and assets are kept safe. Any accident, no matter how small, can seriously interrupt workflow and hurt a business’s ability to meet its production goals. This is why manufacturers must be diligent about creating a culture of safety within their organizations. Beyond establishing and promoting basic safety behaviors and procedures, investing in workplace automation could greatly improve the overall well-being of your industrial operation.
For example, robots can complete the same task thousands of times a day without becoming bored or inattentive, which can decrease delays caused by mistakes or distractions. Automation also means that human workers reduce their risk of suffering injuries due to repetitive strain.
Another advantage of automated technology is accident prevention. Autonomous forklifts and other self-driving machines can avoid collisions and other mistakes often made by human operators. This means work can continue with fewer interruptions and employees are able to stay on the job without injury.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of workplace automation is the amount of data it provides. With detailed metrics that are compiled automatically, managers can get a clearer picture of their operations. Data can also help administrators identify areas of improvement that can be targeted to reduce the risk of accidents and increase productivity.
Building a safer and more successful workplace requires taking advantage of every tool at your disposal. To learn more about how automation can help you accomplish this goal, take a look at the accompanying infographic by The Numina Group.
By improving your processes and automating certain procedures, you can create a workplace that is not only safe, but extremely productive. If you’re looking for guidance in buttoning up your operations to be as efficient and secure as possible, contact us today.
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