Monday, December 16, 2013

New Online Tool Assesses Safety Maturity

Rockwell Automation has released the Safety Maturity Index(SMI), a free online tool that can be used to assess a facility’s safety in regard to culture, compliance and capital.

According to Steve Ludwig, a safety program manager for Rockwell Automation, the tool was developed in response to the findings of several Aberdeen Group studies, which show that safety and productivity go hand-in-hand. One study revealed that 74% of manufacturers have used safety technologies to improve diagnostics and reduce unscheduled downtime, combatting a common belief that safety systems slow down production.

“The function of the tool is to give a company an understanding or baseline of where they stand in each of the three Cs,” says Mark Eitzman, the safety market development manager at Rockwell Automation, referring to culture (attitudes and behavior throughout an organization), compliance (policies and procedures) and capital (investment in safety technologies and techniques) as three critical elements of safety.

The tool is easy to use and only requires customers to add demographic information before answering 15 questions, five about each of the three elements. “Safety is not a single element,” says Ludwig, which is why users receive four scores: One for overall safety and one each for culture, compliance and capital.

Scores are based on a scale of 1 to 4, indicating differing levels of safety maturity:

·      SMI 1 companies tend to minimize their investment in safety, avoiding safety because of its added cost.
·      SMI 2 companies invest in safety but only minimally for compliance to regulations.
·      SMI 3 companies understand the direct and indirect costs of incidents and invest in safety as a means of cost avoidance.
·      SMI 4 companies understand that safety is a barometer of operational excellence and value safety throughout the supply chain.

"Many companies stop at SMI 3, thinking they’ve arrived at the end of the safety journey,” says Eitzman, adding that the SMI allows users to see which of the three key elements are their strengths and which are their weaknesses so that they can better identify areas for improvement. Often, companies that invest large amounts in culture and compliance cannot achieve SMI 4 without also investing in capital.

Rockwell Automation will use the demographic information provided by users as well as their scores to populate a database allowing assessors to compare themselves to others of similar demographics. For example, customers can compare their scores to others in a similar region or others within the same industry. All data will remain anonymous.

Users can utilize the tool an unlimited number of times for as many facilities as necessary. “What we hear is companies saying, ‘I want to see where my best and worst plants are’,” says Eitzman. Not only can the tool be used to compare safety at two or more facilities, but it can also be used to assess the success of recent improvements by comparing old scores to new ones.

The tool is applicable to plants of any size and location in all manufacturing industries that rely on the use of machinery. Rockwell Automation also plans to develop a similar tool to address process safety in the future.

Click here for more information and to access the tool.