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Safety Linked to Productivity

A research study conducted by the Aberdeen Group concludes that companies that have taken steps to implement a formal risk management system and invest in safety technologies not only improve plant safety, but realize superior operational performance and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) as well. These top manufacturers are achieving these results by blending business capabilities with adoption of the latest safety technology.

"One of the most important ideas we were able to confirm from this study is the link between safety and productivity," says Tim Roback, marketing manager of safety systems, control and visualization, for Rockwell Automation. "Historically, industry has viewed those as mutually exclusive, but our focus has been on designing products that help address that with an emphasis on both safe design as well as operational productivity."

The extensive research study by the Aberdeen Group shows that the top 20 percent of best-in-class companies, who had the highest OEE, also had the lowest safety incident rate. The top companies typically had an OEE on average of 90 percent, and an injury incident rate of .05 percent. Compare that to the bottom 20 percent of companies with an OEE of 76 percent and an injury frequency rate of 3 percent, which is sixty times higher. Top manufacturers were also able to achieve a 2 percent unscheduled asset downtime rate, versus a 14 percent rate for the laggard group in the study.

 Safety Linked to Productivity
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"For years, we have been educating manufacturers on how they can use advanced safety automation technologies to achieve safety while increasing productivity. The Aberdeen study factually supports this assertion with data across 250 companies; there is a direct correlation between the manufacturers who have the highest productivity and also the greatest focus on safety," says Roback.

 In addition to safety and productivity, Rockwell Automation has expanded its focus to include safety, security and sustainability. Sustainability comes in the form of reduced scrap, improved energy utilization, environmental impact and machine operation, based on the way the safety and control systems are integrated. "We are focusing more intently on safety and security - the idea that you can't have a safe system if you don't have a secure system, and how to provide resources to our customers to help them be safer and more secure," Roback says.

The Aberdeen study also looked at what kind of challenges organizations are facing when it comes to implementing a safety system. The interesting trend is that best-in-class companies are not only more mature with safety system adoption, but they are also challenged with limited skilled resources and transfer of knowledge about safety systems to new employees. The study found that implementing a strong risk management strategy and investing in safety technology are key factors in effectively addressing both safety concerns and improving productivity performance.
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