SLC 2018: When Safety and Productivity are on the Same Team

Nov. 8, 2018
How the top 10% of safety performers make the most of their data.

In the 1980s and early ‘90s, in order to be safer, companies typically had to slow down. In order to increase productivity, they had to take more risks.

Then companies realized that safety couldn’t play second fiddle to productivity--they needed excellence in both. Social media had a dramatic effect. Photos, video and accounts of company mishaps could go viral and destroy a brand.

“We can’t keep a secret anymore,” said Mark Eitzman, director of business development—safety and cybersecurity, for Rockwell Automation. “That has completely changed the landscape from a risk perspective.”

Today, the safest companies in the world are also the most productive, said Eitzman. If you’re average in safety, you’re average in productivity.

“We try to find out what the attributes are of these companies, and help these other companies replicate it—join the club.”

Eitzman led a session called “The IoT Effect on Safety Maturity and Compliance” at the Safety Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday.

Culture, compliance and capital are all key to achieving safety excellence. Rockwell tracks these attributes in its Safety Maturity Index. The safest companies invest in safety; they actively cultivate a culture of safety; and they go above and beyond mere compliance.

Less-safe companies—the bottom 60%--cling to the old idea that investing in safety could interfere with other prerogatives, “so let’s not talk about safety at all.” They also strive only to meet the minimum standards for compliance.

Another 25% tend to put safety first, with safety programs in place and good safety key performance indicators, but sacrifice operational excellence.

The top 10 to 15% of companies in the Safety Maturity Index “refuse to sacrifice safety or productivity,” said Eitzman.

One of the characteristics of top performers “is the degree to which EHS and engineering collaborate,” he added. At many companies, “if engineering is having a meeting on production design, sometimes they don’t want to invite safety. At the mature ones, safety is in those meetings.”

The top companies also tend to be more adept at turning raw data into contextual information. “So humans can analyze it; do something with it, and close the loop,” he said.

To illustrate the benefits of analytics, Eitzman used examples related to a rotary filler from a bottling company. A rotary filler is a huge, fast-moving machine that fills a high volume of bottles at once—and can be deadly if a worker makes the wrong move or interferes with its operation. “You’ve got data in the control system of that machine,” said Eitzman.

Example 1: Daily, weekly and monthly reports of Emergency Stop Data from the rotary filler tell where e-stops happened, what caused them, the number of stops and which plants had few, and which had a lot. This helped production leaders pinpoint where safety processes are flawed or not being followed or machines are defective, impeding productivity.  

Example 2: A digital twin of the rotary filler mapped access points for the equipment and how often a human uses those access points, then charts anticipated vs. actual exposure to the machine. Eitzman showed a chart from the beverage plant that had access points in red where actual human exposure was higher than 500% vs. anticipated exposure. Using that data, the production team was able to better pinpoint risk areas.

Eitzman addressed four types of data:

Descriptive: what happened?

Diagnostic: Why did it happen? Turn data into contextual information.

Predictive: What will happen?

Prescriptive: What should I do?

“From a safety perspective, the level you’ll see an impact is predicting and preventing [prescribing],” said Eitzman. “You’ll want to be a part of those conversations. What companies get started on that journey, it’s a very simple step by step: What kind of data can I get and who needs to use it? EHS most definitely has a place at that table.”

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