Items filtered by date: October 2011
November 30, 2011
Pepperl+Fuchs introduces the PowerScan barcode reader system for Zone 1 and Division 1 hazardous areas. The wireless PowerScan M system for Zone 1 locations consists of a transmitter and base station, with power provided by a charger located in the safe area. The wired PowerScan D system for Div. 1 / Zone 1 locations consists of a barcode reader connected via a junction box to the Host PC, which can be located up to 150 meters away in the safe area. With PowerScan, all common 1D-barcode families can be captured, and patented technology effectively reads even damaged and difficult-to-read barcodes. The rugged housing ensures full functionality, even after being dropped from a height of two meters. PowerScan features a targeting guide that helps the user achieve successful readings when codes are located in close proximity to one another. Three green LEDs located on the top and back of the barcode reader are visible from any angle to visually confirm that the code has been successfully read. Successful readings are also confirmed with an audible tone, and the result can be read in the display. The PowerScan wireless barcode reading system can be used in combination with VisuNet industrial operator workstations, TERMEX operator terminals or as a standalone solution. www.pepperl-fuchs.us/powerscan
November 30, 2011
Tsubaki of Canada Ltd. welcomed attendees from 24 different companies from across Canada (from Dartmouth, N.S., to Prince George, B.C.) to its Canadian open house on Sept. 22, 2011, in Mississauga, Ont. — celebrating its $961,000 investment in capital equipment during the past year. (To view the photo gallery, scroll to the bottom of this story.) “Made in Canada isn’t just a label for us at this facility,” national sales and marketing manager John Davis told the event’s 89 attendees. “It’s a statement of our pride in manufacturing, and I hope that came through loud and clear on your tour this evening. … We are committed to manufacturing excellence in Canada.” He says that while the company is mostly known as a leader in roller chain, in Canada, Tsubaki primarily manufactures sprockets — and it’s the largest Canadian Manufacturer of sprockets “In Canada, sprockets is the core of what we make,” Davis says. “We look to expand our capability to high precision machined components. We have the design engineering capability and knowledge of machining special materials, hardness levels, surface finishes and tolerance control.” Since 1973, the Canadian market has trusted Tsubaki to keep it moving smoothly. covering the country’s needs from its Mississauga head office and production/distribution facility as well as its Edmonton-based warehouse facility. For nearly 100 years, “Tsubaki has built a reputation for pairing ingenuity with dependability,” and its product lines are meant to help companies maximize productivity and minimize downtime. The company manufactures many different types, sizes and varieties of drive, conveyor and engineered class chain, as well as sprockets and power transmission utility components. Tsubaki recently purchased KabelSchlepp, so it now provides cableveyor systems that support cables and hoses that supply electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic power to moving machine parts. www.tsubaki.ca
Published in Generation
November 30, 2011
The majority of Canadian manufacturers understand their responsibilities when it comes to machine safety - that employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm in the workplace. But many of them are unknowingly applying the wrong solution, or misapplying safeguarding solutions, resulting in the loss of productivity and opening themselves up to injury - or worse. This was the message from the group of six safety experts who travelled to Aurora, Ont., in October for Manufacturing AUTOMATION's third annual machine safety roundtable. (This magazine is a sister publication.) "I think in most cases," says Calvin Wallace, regional sales manager with Beckhoff Automation, "the biggest challenge end users would have right now is properly implementing all of the safety devices and systems that they are purchasing. They are spending a lot of money to attempt to have safe machines. Are they truly implementing safe systems?" Wallace then turned to fellow panelist Ryan Conlin, a partner with SBH Management Lawyers, and said: "I'm sure you meet people all the time who say, 'I thought the machine was safe.'" "Oh, absolutely," says Conlin. "'I never could have imagined that this would happen. We had no idea.' If I had a dollar for every time I heard that. It's a very common thing, because a lot of accidents are not foreseeable," he explains. "What you're expected to do is to take into account that the workers that are going to come in make mistakes and to think of the unanticipated." With that in mind, the six panelists offered their thoughts on how to achieve a safe workplace during the 90-minute lively discussion. Thank you to this year's participants: Ian Brough, safety applications specialist, Sick Inc.; Darren Osmond, technical sales specialist, Jokab Safety, ABB Inc.; Calvin Wallace, regional sales manager, Beckhoff Automation; Ryan Conlin, a partner with SBH Management Lawyers; Stephen Loftus, general manager, Innovative Automation, a custom machine manufacturer building industrial automation solutions - and a Canada's Safest Employer winner; and Michael Wilson, machine guarding specialist, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services. 1. Think about safety from the beginning. "When we quote the supply of equipment, a big part of the explanation of the pricing has to do with the safety," says Stephen Loftus, general manager with Innovative Automation, a custom machine manufacturer building industrial automation solutions. "And if it's going up for competitive bid, are all of the machinery builders supplying a safe system? I would question that. A lot of people bid what the customer asks for, and if it's not up to standards, the thought process is, well, we'll have to deal with that later, which, in reality, is a huge cost impact to that customer. It needs to be explained to them so that they understand that engineering prior to build is much cheaper than modification on their floor after the equipment is built." 2. Assess risk. What's unfortunate, says Darren Osmond, technical sales specialist with Jokab Safety, ABB Inc., is that many customers have not conducted a formal risk assessment on their equipment. "They don't even know what it is and how to start one," he says. "I think people in the safety industry talk about it a lot, but a formal risk assessment really isn't a concept that a lot of people are aware of or follow," says Wallace, adding that a risk assessment can open the door to savings. "Your risk assessment will tell you what performance level your control systems and your electrical design need to meet. So without a risk assessment, in a lot of cases, people are potentially spending more money on the safety process than they need. Perhaps they don't need full category 4...If you do a proper risk assessment, in a lot of cases, you're able to design the safety systems to the risk to be determined. So there is an opportunity for savings there." Ian Brough, safety applications specialist with Sick Inc., says that some standards are changing to require users to conduct risk assessments. For example, the CSA's robot safety standard - Z434 - is going to require all adopters to conduct a risk assessment. "The very first thing they'll ask the user to do is perform a risk assessment," he says. "What the standards are now going to require is that you formally document that, so you can say, 'This is how we analysed the risk.'" Osmond reminds end users that a risk assessment is an ongoing, live document. "If something changes, the process changes, you have to keep updating it." 3. Select the right people. Who should conduct the risk assessment, and what type of due diligence should an employer do to ensure that they have the appropriate person conducting their risk assessment? Michael Wilson, machine guarding specialist with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, says that many companies already have that expertise in house. "They have operators who do the job every day who know exactly what they're dealing with [in terms of risk]. What they may lack on occasion is simply, how does the [risk assessment] process go, how do I put this into print, what are some of the tools I can use," Wilson says. "The people that operate the equipment, the people that supervise that department, most of them can do the risk assessment," says Loftus. "I think it's critical that everybody does the risk assessments. They may need to look for somebody to help them with the solutions, but the first step is to actually do the risk assessment and identify the hazards." "A lot of end users I find, and more the smaller type companies, they're hiring people to come in and do the risk assessments for them, but those people that they're hiring to do the risk assessment don't understand their culture; they don't understand their machinery; they don't know that Joe comes in once a month to get underneath the machine to do a special function. So I think it's really key that the risk assessment is done by the [end user] with the appropriate person, a qualified person, to come in and help them," says Osmond. "The best risk assessments, risk analysis, risk reductions, safeguarding strategies or safe strategies are performed by a number of people; it's not just by an engineer or by purchasing or by maintenance. Involve the operators," Brough says. Whether you're hiring a safety consultant to conduct a risk assessment, or a professional engineer to conduct a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review, Conlin says to make sure they are qualified. "In the court of law, to be qualified to testify as an expert, you'd have to show me that you have, not only a licence, but thousands of hours of experience in actually doing something and having the background...And there's many of them that I've seen who are out there doing this kind of stuff where there's not a snowball's chance that a judge would ever qualify them as an expert because they just don't have the background," he says. Conlin recommends you do your homework. "Did you check the references for this person? Could you name four or five other guarding projects they worked on, along with a contact person? Did you phone that person? Did you get a copy of their CV?" 4. Find the appropriate solution. If there is an incentive to bypass the guard, says Brough, "clearly things have been done that impede the operator's job, impede the production of the machine, and that is the number one worst kind of guard." "It goes back to the risk and dealing with the operators, dealing with the maintenance people and understanding how that safety system needs to function within that particular business," says Wilson. "We can't take company A and say here's a cookie cutter safety solution that needs to fit their operation, again, because we don't want to impede productivity...But again at the same time, we need to work safely. So let's understand what we're dealing with and apply a solution that works best for us that might not only not impact productivity, but certainly make a safe environment to work in as well. "We recommend that they talk to people on the floor, so that when you are applying that safeguard, it's not impeding your process, it's not going to make things take longer," Wilson continues. "Let's talk to those people, let's understand how they work, let's make the solution fit the operation, and make sure everybody works safely. What happens sometimes is that some people think it is conflicting, if you will, productivity versus safety, which is really not the case. Safety is part of your business. It's just a matter of applying those tools and moving forward." Wallace says determining the appropriate solution starts with determining the proper standards to use. "Defining your machine and being able to define your machine clear enough to match it to the standards, I think that's the challenge. I think once you're able to match your machine or your application to a standard, then it's pretty clear cut." Loftus says that it's important to make it a competitive process and get several quotes. "I would find two or three people, look at different thoughts, different ideas that people have. And pick the one that actually suits your business best." Wallace adds that when users are evaluating safety upgrades, it's also an opportunity to evaluate their processes. "I think it's an opportunity to evaluate their process at the same time, to see, we're not just putting gates up and electrical switches and safety systems; what we're doing is, can we evaluate our process...How can we possibly change our process to ensure that the operators don't get frustrated and encouraged to override switches and so on." 5. Apply the solution correctly. Brough questions how many guards are actually applied correctly. "I think we can probably answer that probably 80 to 90 percent of most safeguarding devices aren't installed correctly or at the appropriate safety distance. The other 10 percent are probably not wired right. And almost all of them, [if] it's some kind of a guard, just throw it on and hope for the best." Osmond agrees that sometimes devices are not installed correctly or appropriately. "I look at how many light curtains you sell versus how many stop time analyzers you sell. Everybody who owns a light curtain really should have a stop time analyzer. You should know what the stop time is and what the proper safety distance is, but people don't. They pick the light curtain and they mount it where it's convenient." "One of the biggest pet peeves is the application of, let's call them light curtains or guarding, and it's misapplied," explains Loftus. "People put light curtains on, there's no reaction time for the equipment, the reach through time on it won't allow the machine to stop in time to actually perform the function that it's put in place for. So, now not only do you have an unsafe piece of equipment, you have a perception that it's safe, which actually in my mind makes it worse than not having anything there." Wallace agrees. "I do think in a lot of cases, a lot of companies are spending the money, but the implementation of the hardware isn't correct...I see it over and over and over where the money is spent, and it's still not really safe." 6. Comply with machine guarding standards. "Safeguarding standards, robot safeguarding, press safeguarding - Those standards exist and are created by organizations like the CSA to help show people how to achieve safety around their machinery, as opposed to the why," says Wilson. "And really they do represent the latest technology, the latest thinking." Osmond calls machine safety standards "the minimum requirements." He uses an example from a colleague: "If your kids come home from school and they get a D, [do] we all celebrate and take them to McDonalds? No, that's not the case. We don't celebrate. We actually work them towards the A. And I think that's what's important for [end users] to understand. Just getting the minimum requirements, getting a D, is sometimes not enough." 7. Safe design. Loftus says that the best way to avoid the misapplication of safeguarding devices is to engineer the hazard out of the machinery during the design phase. "If I can eliminate the hazard, there's no need for any of this [safety] equipment or very little of it," he says. "Now I have less restrictions on my machinery, probably easier flow, your operator is now closer to the work...We have some cells where the operators are back 36, 40 inches from the work area just because of the energy within the system when it's moving and the time it takes to stop it. So now you look at an operator who is loading a machine less than once a minute, who is walking 40 inches in, 40 inches out, to unload a machine and the same thing to load it. You're putting a lot of miles on in a day just to operate that piece of equipment...You've got to change all of that so that you come up with a method that is efficient, doesn't create other ergo issues with the operator, and reduces your costs for implementation." "Safe design is a far, far, far, far superior strategy," agrees Brough. "Where safe design doesn't work, then you look at safeguarding technology." "The safe design system would work with newer equipment," says Osmond. "But there's still a lot of old equipment out there that needs to be retrofitted, and engineering out the process is sometimes not as easy as applying the secondary measure in our hierarchy of safeguarding, which is applying safeguarding systems." "With the newer technologies that are coming out, I think there are a lot more elegant solutions available to machine builders and end users for retrofits, and I think that we'll continue to make safer machines for operators," says Wallace. 8. Build a culture of safety. "A good percentage of machine guarding cases are...tampering and defeating machine guarding systems that, if they were in place, would have prevented the accident," explains Conlin. "It's not a failure necessarily of guarding, but a failure of supervision. If you have people tampering with guards and your supervision isn't doing anything about it, you're grossly contravening health and safety legislation, and there's a bigger problem with your system than just the physical machine guards. The supervision has to go hand in hand. There's got to be a culture that guards can't be tampered with, and the second that's tolerated, the second you are in complete non-compliance, in my view. "I think that organizations really need to look at safety starting from the top in terms of a safety culture," adds Conlin. "If you build a culture of safety in your organization, my perspective is the rest will take care of itself." 9. Measure the effectiveness of your safety strategy. "I'd say that one of the biggest things you need to take a look at is the difference between what's on paper and what's in reality," explains Conlin. "If you have a system in your safety manual that says your machines will be audited for guarding risks or other safety risks on an annual basis, and then a Ministry of Labour inspector asks, 'Well have you done them? Well, I don't have any records whatsoever of that, it's never actually been done.' That's the number one thing. Is your program that you have written down, does it conform with reality?...And I can't tell you how many court decisions there are out there that say, 'Well the safety system on the ground is not the safety system in the book.' And so the employer's due diligence defence fails." 10. Be educated. Loftus, whose company was the recent recipient of a Canada's Safest Employer Award, says that the key to safeguarding success is education. "The bottom line is that our employees understand the whole process. They're educated in the process because it's part of what we do, and then they apply it to our own manufacturing." Brough agrees. "I think probably the common thread here is education - for the plant, for the user," he says. "Knowing about the latest technology; knowing about the latest legal requirements. Education is the biggest thing." This article originally appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.
November 30, 2011
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is eliminating $32 million in annual tariffs on some of the goods used in Canadian manufacturing. The move means Canadian manufacturers will no longer have to pay customs duties to import key inputs used in food processing, furniture and transportation equipment. Flaherty says this announcement is the latest step in the government's 2010 commitment to make Canada a tariff-free zone for industrial manufacturers, and is part of its grand plan to foster job growth. "By lowering costs for these businesses, we are enhancing their ability to compete in domestic and foreign markets and helping them invest and create jobs here at home," he said in a press release. He says the list of 70 different products that will soon be tariff-free is the result of long consultations with business. The list includes apple juice concentrate and other mixtures used to make drinks, hardware for furniture, parts used to make trailers and transport equipment, gelatin capsules for pharmaceuticals, and conveyor belts. In an interview CTV's Question Period, Flaherty said many of the tariffs dated from a previous era, and no longer make any sense. "It relates to things like fasteners in clothing and trailer parts, a series of things that were tariff-able before but now they're just an impediment to Canadian business, Canadian manufacturing," he said. "Some of these old-fashioned tariffs get in the way. So we're getting rid of them. We're leading the world, in fact, in reducing tariffs on our manufacturing sector."
Published in Business
November 30, 2011
With its new generation of enclosure heaters, Rittal has succeeded in developing a product can create the optimal operating environment within enclosures for control equipment and switchgear while at the same time meeting energy efficiency demands. Through the utilization of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and energy-efficient PTC (positive temperature coefficient) technology, Rittal heaters now allow a better thermal output than previous solutions. New features, such as the double clamp-type terminal connection and the quick-assembly system, also ensure time-saving installation. The formation of condensation in enclosures poses risks, in particular to sensitive control electronics located outdoors. Enclosure heaters that prevent the formation of condensation while also ensuring the system has a minimum operating temperature are required for effective protection. Now, with its latest generation of enclosure heaters, Rittal shows that technical improvements are still possible. The heaters are available both without and with fans. The heaters without fans have a continuous thermal output of 10 to 150 watts. Using integrated fans, the thermal output can be variably increased by as much as 800 W if needed. The heaters have a ready-to-connect design and, thanks to the double quick-connection terminal, can be effectively wired and cascaded without any additional screw terminals being needed. A snap fastening feature ensures time and cost saving installation. The use of enclosure heaters can be easily incorporated even when fans and cooling units are employed. Ideal operational results can be achieved through the use of Rittal thermostats and/or hygrostats. www.rittal.ca
GammaTech Computer Corp. has partnered with Calgary-based distributor Pro-Data Inc., which will distribute GammaTech’s Durabook models to resellers across Canada as well as become an authorized GammaTech service center. “We are excited to be distributing GammaTech’s Durabooks to the oil and gas, education, public safety, and healthcare markets in Canada,” said Cameron Janzen, vice-president of sales and marketing at Pro-Data. “Once we decided to enter the rugged notebook category, GammaTech was the clear choice. We are especially excited to become an authorized service center for them in Canada, providing customers with a quick turn-around on Durabook repairs and service.” GammaTech products are rugged, durable, reliable and rigorously tested. They stand up to the most demanding situations, whether in the field, in an office, or positioned in a utility vehicle. Models are built to Military 810G Standard for drop, shock, spill, and dust protection, and offer security features such as Fingerprint Recognition, Smart Card Reader and TPM 1.2 support. All GammaTech products can be configured to meet the user’s unique requirements. Paul Kim, vice president of sales and marketing at GammaTech, commented, “We are very excited to be partnering with Pro-Data for expanded Canadian distribution of our Durabook computers. Our partnerships play a major role in the success of our product lines and help us remain a leader in the rugged notebook and tablet field.” Key models for the Canadian market include: The U12C is the perfect companion for mobile power users on the go. The U12C features a 12.1” WXGA Touch Screen TFT LED backlight display that quickly converts into a Tablet PC. This lightweight powerhouse features I/O covered ports to protect from the hazards of dirt and dust. Powered by the Intel i5 processor, the U12C has maximized speed and data management. In addition, the U12C comes with a hard handle making portability a snap. It offers a number of sophisticated I/O modules that can encompass everything from a RS232 port or GPS to an optional second 2M pixel auto focus camera. The S15C rugged notebook comes equipped with the computing power and performance needed by the most demanding user and is designed with rugged features to protect the system from damage in the toughest working environments. The S15C comes with a brilliant 15.6” HD display and is powered by the Intel i5 and i7 CPU platform. Standard features include an RS232 Serial port, TPM 1.2 data security and a Smart Card Reader. www.pro-data.com www.gammatechUSA.com
November 28, 2011
GOJO Industries Inc. introduces its ECO SOY foaming hand cleaner, a foam-style, soy-based formulation that gently removes moderate soils from hands. The dermatologist-tested product can be used with or without water. It is a grit-free foam formulated to gently remove dirt from hands without the use of aggressive solvents or abrasives. The pre-lathered foam rinses easily while its invigorating fresh scent appeals to both men and women. “Industrial environments can present a wide range of soils. Usually, regular restroom soaps aren't effective in removing the dirt,” said Diana Costanzo, marketing director for automotive/manufacturing at GOJO. “GOJO ECO SOY Foaming Hand Cleaner cleans better than a general restroom soap but is not as aggressive as typical heavy duty hand cleaners with grit.” GOJO is committed to developing products that help technicians and other workers in tough soils environments maintain skin health. It is available in the new GOJO DPX wall-mount dispenser with a high-capacity, 2,000-mL refill. The diamond-plate design of the dispenser looks great and stands up to the toughest environments. www.gojo.com/manufacturing
Published in Facilities Management
November 28, 2011
EDMONTON — An environmental think-tank says recent spills in Alberta show it’s time for regulators to review how aging oil pipelines are monitored and maintained. Nathan Lemphers of the Pembina Institute says there’s a greater chance of more spills because more oil is flowing through older lines. “Given the number of major pipeline spills that happened this past spring, and now this Penn West pipeline spill, there is a need for the Energy Resources Conservation Board to reassess how it manages aging infrastructure,” Lemphers said Friday. “The ERCB needs to ensure that there is improved monitoring and maintenance of these aging pipelines and that they enforce existing pipeline safety regulations.” The board estimates there are about 400,000 kilometres of energy-related pipelines criss-crossing Alberta. Last month, a Penn West pipeline leaked 500,000 litres of watery oil near Swan Hills. The emulsion came from a pipeline connected to old oil wells. The Calgary-based company has so far removed five million litres of water that was contaminated by the spill and 2,300 tonnes of soil. The ERCB said Friday that the site remains shut down and will not reopen until an investigation into what happened is complete. Last April, Plains Midstream Canada reported a major breach of its 44-year-old Rainbow pipeline north of Peace River. About 4.5 million litres of oil escaped. Kinder Morgan also reported a spill that month from its pipeline carrying diluted unprocessed oilsands crude near Chip Lake west of Edmonton. The Pembina Pipeline Corp. reported a spill on its line near Swan Hills in July. Cleanup and remediation of the Plains Midstream spill continues. The conservation board is responsible for regulating pipelines that begin and end in Alberta. Pipelines that cross provincial boundaries or the U.S. border are regulated by the federal National Energy Board. The Alberta regulator said pipelines in the province have never been safer. The latest (2010) statistics show 1.6 incidents per thousand kilometres of pipeline. “Alberta’s pipeline system is very safe,” said board spokesman Darin Barter. “The ERCB expects companies to operate pipelines safely and within all regulatory requirements regardless of age.” The Pembina Institute said the breaches this year show the status quo isn’t good enough. “This recent spill highlights the environmental risks of pipelines in Alberta,” Lemphers said. “More can and should be done to ensure this kind of spill does not happen again.”
Ontario will target workplace hazards related to racking and storage during an enforcement blitz at industrial workplaces across the province. In November, Ministry of Labour inspectors will check for hazards involving the installation, use, maintenance and repair of racking and storage systems. This includes ensuring material is safely placed and stored on racks. They will check that: Racking is selected and installed in a hazard-free manner Racking is properly maintained and repaired Material is safely loaded onto racks by appropriate lift trucks, and Aisles are obstruction-free, lighting is adequate and pallets are in good condition. Protecting workers is part of the government's ongoing commitment to prevent workplace injuries through its Safe At Work Ontario strategy “Workers can be seriously injured or killed if pallet racks are incorrectly installed or used," said Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Labour. "The [government] is committed to eliminating workplace injuries. Workers have a right to return home each day, safe and sound.” Examples of safety issues involving racking and storage include: poor storage rack design incorrect installation and assembly of racking system structural problems with the floors or walls of the storage area such as uneven floors and overloaded supporting structures concrete floors with cracks and breaks around the racking unit anchors resulting in racking that is not level poor/inadequate storage rack maintenance and repair incorrect use of racking or overloading lack of regular inspection and maintenance program, and products sticking out the back of the racking. Deficiencies can lead to: partial or total failure/collapse of racking systems; forklifts colliding with racks causing material to be displaced or causing potential damage to the racking itself; material falling through the back of the racks; and high floor vibration at forge shops causing loads to crawl and fall off the rack if not properly secured. Between 2006 and 2010, three workers died and 45 others received serious injuries in racking and storage incidents. Since 2008, ministry inspectors conducted more than 266,000 field visits, 36 inspection blitzes and issued more than 426,000 compliance orders. www.labour.gov.on.ca
Mobile devices can help improve plant worker safety, ensure compliance with safety regulations and reduce costs at the same time. Thanks to advances in mobile hardware and software, safety management can now play a considerable role in broader efforts to enhance plant operations. Worker safety has always been a top priority for manufacturers. But until recent years, inspection and safety compliance management (ISCM) technology had lagged other manufacturing technologies that have driven more efficient and cost-effective industrial processes. Increasingly sophisticated software and equipment have transformed plant operations, yet safety compliance continues to be stuck in a time warp of pencils, paper and filing cabinets. With today’s technologies, the decision to go mobile is easier than ever before. Here’s how it works. Mobile handheld devices are used to read RFID tags or barcodes, which can be attached to virtually any type of equipment where safety is a factor: slings used in heavy lifting, harnesses, fire extinguishers and much more. Used in combination with ISCM software, a record of each inspection is automatically stored in a secure, cloud-based infrastructure. Inspectors can use the system to conduct facility-wide audits and to verify the safety certification of each item is up to date. Moreover, such systems are also suited for tracking employee training and certifications in much the same way they are used to track assets. A record of each inspection is permanently available for review by inspectors, safety managers and compliance officers, ensuring a facility always ready for a surprise audit. The benefits are greater efficiency and reliability in both workplace safety and regulatory compliance. Mobile ISCM systems, such as Toronto-based Field ID, overcome challenges faced by many plants: the complexity of managing safety inspections for numerous pieces of equipment; safety audit preparedness; accident readiness; and more. Here is a look at some of the most common challenges: Lots of equipment, too much paperwork Larger plants may have thousands of pieces of equipment requiring periodic safety compliance inspections. This can generate a huge paperwork burden. Mobile safety compliance systems make it possible to instantly identify each unique piece of equipment and automatically determine if it complies with safety regulations. These setups are sutied for handling safety inspections as they automatically upload results to cloud-based infrastructure. Electronic inspection certificates can be generated directly from the web. Paper, clipboards and filing cabinets are taken out of the picture. A tangle of safety standards Different types of equipment are subject to different safety standards and varying inspection schedules. This generates a complex web of inspections and standards that can overwhelm paper-based compliance management. For manufacturers with multiple locations in different jurisdictions, the complexity is amplified by variances in standards. Mobile ISCM systems bring order to this complexity by automatically identifying each piece of equipment, and linking it to its unique safety certification checklist and compliance record. In effect, safety standards are built right into the system, with all documentation digitized and securely stored in the cloud. This takes the guesswork out of inspections and ensures compliance throughout the plant. Technicians can even use the software to schedule inspections for individual pieces of equipment, according to the standards and schedule applicable to each item. Compliance uncertainty With numerous pieces of equipment scattered throughout a facility, how does one find out quickly and with certainty whether an individual item not only complies with safety standards but also is safe for workers to use? Paper records housed in back-office filing cabinets make it difficult, if not impossible, to confirm safety and compliance status on the spot. ISCM software, combined with mobile devices and bar codes or RFID tags, provide plant managers with instant access to the information they need. The status of any piece of equipment can be checked in real time simply by scanning it with a mobile reader, reducing the risk of non-compliance. More importantly, workers can know right away if a piece of machinery is safe to use. Audit readiness Safety compliance audits can happen at any time, without any advance notice. When an audit does occur, the search for paper records can become a scramble to prove compliance: Is every piece of equipment accounted for? Where is the documentation proving compliance? Are the records up to date? Mobile ISCM systems like Field ID digitize all compliance records and store them securely in the cloud. Reports and safety data can be produced in real time, day or night. Accident preparedness Despite a company’s best efforts, accidents can happen unexpectedly. Should an accident occur at a plant, will they be ready for the investigation that follows? Cumbersome, paper-based systems can add to the challenge of quickly proving safety standards compliance. Mobile systems make proving compliance fast and easy, 24/7. Not only do they expedite post-accident investigations, but they also reduce the risk of fines and other sanctions that can result if paper records are out of date or cannot be located. Universal application Mobile safety inspection and compliance solutions can be applied to virtually any manufacturing operation. Food processing plants, to cite just one example, can use mobile systems to ensure their food manufacturing processes comply with strict health and safety regulations. Whatever the type of plant, the questions asked are much the same: Do we have the proper records for all our equipment? When was the last time our equipment was serviced and maintained? What must we do to maintain compliance? Are we ready for a safety audit? Are we conducting and storing the required safety inspections? Can we provide safety traceability? Is the training and certification of our employees up to date? Mobile safety compliance systems make it possible for plant managers, safety managers, technicians and CIOs to have the right answers to these questions at their fingertips. Somen Mondal is the CEO of Toronto-based Field ID. For more information, visit www.fieldid.com.