By Gregory Hale
Any hallmark to a safety program is to keep workers, the plant and environment safe from whatever product the manufacturer is producing.
But it doesn’t just have to be a cost center as it can also enable the business to be more productive.
That is the thought process behind Honda of Canada Manufacturing, which was one of the winners in Rockwell Automation’s Manufacturing Safety Excellence Award, which was handed out Wednesday at Rockwell’s Automation Fair 2017 in Houston, TX.
“They created a strong safety culture, policies and compliance procedures and implemented automaton technology,” said Mark Eitzman, safety market development manager at Rockwell.
Honda of Canada won the award along with U.K.-based equipment builder A.M.P Rose.
Honda of Canada received a company division-level award for the outstanding safety program at the company’s operations in Alliston, Ontario. The automotive manufacturer has ingrained safety companywide, and the Canadian division has worked to continually make safety a core business value.
Toward that end, they actually started their safety journey in 1998 when they decided to follow the robotic standard.
“We didn’t know what to do and we started to do more risk assessments,” said Dave Smith, equipment and construction safety specialist at Honda of Canada. “Our journey has been a positive one for us. It not only has made us safe, but it is has made us more efficient.”
For Honda, safety is an ongoing commitment and it is constantly getting stronger.
They created a safety committee in 1999 and it now has 17 members of all levels of seniority.
Smith said the strength of the program is the senior management team has focused on safety. They have even gotten to the point of giving presentations to senior managers just to show the impact of a safety incident.
One of the stronger improvements they made to their safety program is the downtime safety protocol.
“The most dangerous point in any process is installation and decommissioning,” Smith said. “Before we start up or decommission, we have meetings and plan all jobs we are going to do.”
Safety has not always been a slam dunk at Honda, but the idea has continually grown over the years.
“It has been a progression, the money we have spent has been up there, but it was worth it,” said Ross Moreau, equipment safety specialist at Honda of Canada. “We had to show it over time, but it has had the business impact over the years.”
There are times in the safety environment where complacency sometimes takes over. But at Honda, they remain vigilant.
“The system is strong enough where things won’t fall through the cracks,” Smith said. “We want to take it to the next level where we have a more consistent approach at all departments.”
A.M.P Rose, a U.K.-based equipment builder, received an enterprise-level award for its companywide focus on safety. The company, which specializes in flexible packaging and flow-wrap machinery for many industries such as confectionary, snack and bakery, takes a proactive approach to adding contemporary safety solutions onto its machines.
When it comes to Honda and how they have accomplished their safety program, Lee Lane, vice president and general manager of the safety, sensing and connectivity business at Rockwell said “safety is good business.”