Avoiding Plant Disasters With Field Service Management Solutions

Nearly 1,000 men and women lost their lives in industrial settings this past year. While this number may seem small in relation to the total working population, it is significant considering many of those deaths could have been prevented with the right technology.

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Nearly 1,000 men and women lost their lives in industrial settings this past year. While this number may seem small in relation to the total working population, it is significant considering many of those deaths could have been prevented with the right technology. Of these fatalities, over one-third occurred in manufacturing plants. Fatal accidents in plants are by no means a new phenomenon, but with today’s technology enabling safer operations and more regulated maintenance, there is little excuse for plant disasters that lead to such tragedies.

The Life And Cost Saving Promise Of Field Service Solutions

Understanding that one of a plant manager’s top priorities should be monitoring machine health well in advance of a disaster, it is vital to understand the role field service management (FSM) solutions play in this. FSM solutions provide critical visibility into data that saves lives. For example, imagine if an oil valve burst, posing an immediate threat to the safety of the workers around it. A FSM solution would enable technicians and emergency response personnel to immediately retrieve the machine’s specs and service history to arrive at the quickest and most effective solution.

Now imagine if that oil spill had never happened. That, too, is the power of FSM solutions. Access to the critical details of machines can help predict when an oil valve could be at risk. One recent study proves that capital equipment manufacturers who choose to invest in FSM solutions are 38 percent more likely than other manufacturers to predict failures and suggest solutions prior to dispatching technicians. With proper technology, manufacturers are also 27 percent more likely to forecast future failures and allocate resources appropriately.

Not only do FSM innovations improve communication between manager and machine, they improve communication between manager and the workers on the floor. A 2016 Gallup study revealed that employers with high levels of employee engagement had 70 percent fewer safety incidents than those with lower levels of engagement. The beauty of FSM solutions is that the enhanced communication all happens via mobile device at the touch of a button. Data analysis that once took minutes and even hours to complete now only take seconds, saving countless millions of dollars in downtime costs and even lives.

The Fatal And Financial Costs Of Plant Disasters

Whether an oil or chemical spill, the sounding of a gas detector or a mechanic malfunction, plant managers must be prepared when disaster strikes and understand the key signs, like unusual levels of air pressure or temperature, that forewarn a coming event. Putting aside the obvious need to prevent fatalities, take one look at the financial cost of machine downtime and you will  understand the importance of staying on top of machine health. It is estimated that the average factory loses $1.3 million per hour of downtime. For perspective, on average, manufacturers experience 350 hours of downtime each year; that’s $455 million dollars that U.S. manufacturers are losing each year while their equipment isn’t running. And so much of this is preventable.

When you compound that number with the seasonality of most manufacturing operations, the cost of downtime is only exacerbated. Weather conditions can have a tremendous impact on both the production cycles of modern day manufacturers and their potential disaster risk. The extreme cold temperatures of winter and the extreme hot of summer can change plant conditions at a rate that makes it difficult for managers to keep up. At a chemical plant, for example, a difference of even a couple of degrees could lead to a disaster if the plant’s machinery must be kept at a certain temperature. FSM solutions can provide valuable insight into errors in previous service engagements and optimal conditions required for safe and efficient production.

The Choice Is Yours

Field service management solutions have the power to transform manufacturing operations on a global scale. Access to every resource with absolute awareness of competencies, availability, location, time to acquire and working regulations, could be the difference between a multimillion dollar loss and emerging unscathed (figuratively and literally). So the choice is clear for today’s manufacturers: invest in the technology that is going to make the plant floor safer or continue to suffer the financial and fatal costs of equipment disasters.

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