- February 22, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Manufacturing, Measurement, Safety
In a previous article, I talked about the importance of plant workflow measurement to determine a plant’s productivity, such as a machine’s downtime or an associate’s total productivity. With a plant workflow system, associates can self-manage their own performance, and you can be alerted early to potential problems with machines, before a breakdown ever occurs.
Another benefit of a plant workflow measurement system is that you can measure consumables at the point of consumption, such as chemicals and bulk ingredients. This helps you determine the accuracy of your dispensers and test to the bill of material to ensure you’re not using too much or too little.
If you are, you can find out why and make the necessary repairs. It gives you a highly accurate ability to record and report your actual consumption. This is especially important if you use dangerous chemicals, because you can receive heavy fines if you don’t strictly monitor your chemical emissions.
Here’s what I mean.
If you use any form of chemical or solvent in or around your manufacturing facility, you have to be given a permit by your local EPA office because you’re emitting chemicals and fumes into the atmosphere. So every operation has to be able to calculate how much chemical they’re going to use, and to know the constituents that are emitted into the atmosphere. Your EPA permit will allow you a certain amount of emissions below any dangerous levels.
Those emissions have to be reported on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis to the EPA, and they have the right to audit the documentation. Should the EPA find you in noncompliance, they will levy big fines against you.
The way they determine your emissions is to go through your records, look at how much you purchased, how much you say you consumed, and how much you have in inventory. Then they perform a calculation with those figures and determine how much would have been emitted into the atmosphere. That means if you have a blip in your record keeping, especially if it’s all manual, you can have a serious problem.
How Plant Workflow Measurement Helps
With plant workflow measurement, you can monitor the chemical consumption on a minute-by-minute basis, and record it at the point of consumption. It’s not a human being writing down what they think they used (e.g. “I think we used 4 gallons today”). The meter will actually show that you used 3.785 gallons today.
Without that meter, and because of the propensity for human error, you can see how easy it would be to make mistakes and receive that fine. This is where plant workflow becomes important. Everything is rolled up automatically into the environmental reporting, and it is not 100% dependent on the human condition.
Additionally, if the meter isn’t operating properly, it will also send an alert that the measuring device is not measuring correctly, or has stopped measuring even though it’s pumping stuff. Then you can fix the error immediately and avoid the EPA fines.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.