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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Don’t neglect machinery safety

SMC is a reliable partner for factory automation, mitigating safety problems before they become a serious issue, writes Glenn Moffat

An effective safety management programme for both equipment and operators will not only help UK manufacturers meet the latest legislation – which may well change again post-Brexit – but it should imbue a safe working culture throughout the organisation. When implemented as part of an overall business strategy, it can also improve productivity by introducing use of safer, more efficient manufacturing components which reduce machinery downtime too.

At SMC, we support many of our manufacturing industry customers and their Tier One suppliers with advice on how best to use the findings of their Risk Assessments. Quite simply, these results can be used to identify and mitigate potential machinery and operator safety problems before they become a serious issue for the organisation or its workforce.

The important first step for any manufacturer looking at machinery safety issues is to understand what it means for them as an organisation. While some major manufacturing operations have set up their own Site Safety Specifications, it is more often the case, particularly among SMEs that they are not even entirely aware of all pertinent legislation and what they have to do to meet this. Increasingly tight safety legislation means no business can afford to ignore this, particularly given the increasingly widespread use of machinery and components from overseas suppliers where production standards are not as rigorous as those in the UK.

For example, take the food industry. If a component or system fails, which results in contamination of the food being processed or packaged, it can cost a company dearly not only in monetary terms but in brand reputation damage as well.

Every responsible business also has a duty of care to employees working on their production line to ensure not only that the equipment they are using is safe but that the working methods used are too. Appropriate training and its enforcement are critical to delivering this.

However, with increased competition across the global manufacturing industry, there is a temptation to cut costs and corners when it comes to machinery safety as an instant gain.

Working in conjunction with a customer’s own Risk Assessment exercise, our Machinery Safety Solutions Strategy focuses on four core elements of the manufacturing process:

* equipment safety and productivity – identify the pneumatic products and control systems key to optimising safety and productivity throughout your manufacturing operation from ingredient processing to finished product packaging

*operator usage and maintenance – assess all aspects of operator usage and machinery maintenance in your manufacturing chain and improve practice and resource deployment through PUWER training and partner seminars

*change attitudes – devise and implement routes to optimise new thinking and attitudes to machinery safety and maintenance within your management, workforce and sales team

*embed safety management values – build an understanding of your business’s safety management policy to ensure best practice across all aspects of the manufacturing operation and engineering staff training.

Based on the results of this comprehensive data collection exercise, SMC works with customers to develop a durable business solution to their machinery safety management issues with defined goals and the right team of people to deliver them.


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