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By Gregory Hale
Safety has always been a top priority at any manufacturing automation facility in the world, but creating a safety culture for all workers to participate is one thing, trying to make safety a profit center takes it to the next level.

“Safety is complex, it is not easy and has lots of challenges,” said Chris Stogner, brand director for Triconex Safety at Schneider Electric during a session at the ARC Industry Forum 2019 in Orlando, FL, last week. “You have to get it right all the time. Safety system is like a referee on the football field, if they are doing the job right you don’t know they are out there, but if they miss a call, just look at New Orleans a few weeks ago. Safety is always viewed as a cost. The more safely you operate the more profitable you will be.”

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Along those lines, Stogner and Farshad Hendi, safety practice leader at Schneider Electric, talked about EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor, an IIoT-based digital process safety platform and service that can allow users to visualize and analyze real-time hazardous events and risks to their assets, operations and business performance.

Safety Advisor is built on Schneider’s EcoStruxure SIF Manager application for tracking and validating safety instrumented function (SIF) performance over the life of a plant. It provides a single view into the health and status of the user’s safety instrumented functions, which helps to identify potential risks and their impact on operations performance.

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Platform- and vendor-agnostic, Safety Advisor extends the functionality of SIF Manager. Safety Advisor aggregates real-time data, analytics and insights from multiple sites and geographies into a single user interface so customers can create an accurate, enterprise-wide risk profile in real time. It also identifies the need to take corrective action via easy-to-understand performance dashboards and leading indicators for safety health and then documents the entire process using an embedded SIF audit trail that supports safety compliance.

Closing Gaps
“There is a gap that we have,” Hendi said. “Safety is a multi-disciplinary kind of practice. We have the people in management that need to decide about safety, people in operations that can impact safety and people in maintenance can affect safety and even engineering. When we see a gap and problems is when these teams are not talking to each other. We need a singular unit or a unique environment a collaboration environment where people can see the singular form of truth.”

Safety Advisor helps in three key elements:
1. Collaboration
2. Timing
3. Different enterprise connections

“The enterprise level wants to see what is happening with their assets,” Hendi said. “How do you know what is going on? These tools help each level of the enterprise close the layers (of information) together. That is a gap that is closed.”

It also gives “leading indicators that can show what is going on now and what may happen in the future,” he said. “You are able to drill down to see the information at individual sites. It provides a simplified view of what is happening and gives everyone the right information they need to make the right decisions for profitable safety.”

Safety for years has been a set it and forget it kind of thing where, yes, it needed maintenance and tuning, but it pretty much sat and protected the facility for years on end. That meant safety was a reactive process.

Proactive Process
“For the next many years, analytics will take advantage of the Big Data, rules engines and machine learning that will transform something that has been purely a reactive process to a proactive process that helps prevent nuisance trips, and unsafe events and hazardous events before they happen,” Stogner said. “We will be able to give good information that is contextualized and gives it to the right people to take the right action.”

Trying to change a mindset toward profitable safety in the industry is akin to changing the mind of a headstrong 5-year-old. It can happen but it won’t be easy. The same is true for organizations thinking about profitable safety.

“People still see it as a cost, but there are some that are coming around and grasping the concept of that which is not safe cannot be profitable,” Stogner said. “One of the watershed moments was in the summer of 2017 when the latest edition of 61511 came out and started making some of the things we said you should do to be profitable mandatory to become more safe. A lot of customers are trying to figure out ways to do it to help ease the burden.”

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