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HSE 4.0: How Industry Preserves Safety in Its Latest Revolution

HSE Industry Preserves Safety

Let's take a look at an overlooked aspect of Industry 4.0 – the future of health, safety and environment (HSE) – to get a picture of what EAM means moving forward.

The honeymoon period for Industry 4.0 is coming to a close. Businesses have oohed and ahhed at the gadgetry, the actionable data utilization and the promises of a better, brighter, more Jetsons-like future for the industrial sector. It's time to stop spectating and start participating.

Cautious investors find new value in perennial EAM disciplines

Until investors are comfortable with the upfront costs of cutting-edge equipment, that will never happen. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, digitization in the fourth industrial revolution will, until 2020, increase industrial sector revenues by nearly half a trillion dollars per year and cut costs by more than $400 billion annually as well. In exchange, however, companies will spend more than $900 billion in Industry 4.0 technology yearly in that same time frame, about one nickel for every dollar of revenue earned. That's not nothing, even if PWC said most businesses expect to see a return on their investments in as little as two years.

"Companies will spend $900 billion per year on Industry 4.0 technology until 2020."

Those already familiar with the principles of enterprise asset management know that sometimes uncovering real value means digging deep now and waiting for the payout. Opening the company coffers to predictive analytics and CMMS data architecture may sting in the short term but rewards those who do invest with greater asset reliability, optimized maintenance strategies and fewer out-and-out failures. All that aside, some leaders may still struggle to visualize what a non-financial return in a post-modern industrial era even looks like. Let's take a look at an overlooked aspect of Industry 4.0 – the future of health, safety and environment (HSE) – to get a picture of what EAM means moving forward.

A glimpse at declining industrial sector injuries

First and foremost, as worker wellness is a major prong of any HSE department or management initiatives, leaders can expect the rates of workplace injuries and illnesses to not only decline but drop significantly as they grow more adept at next-gen asset utilization.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows many industrial sector industries commonly associated with dangerous work and heavy machinery saw promising declines in recorded injuries and illnesses across 2015: "mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; transportation and warehousing." Coupled with a rise in hours worked over 2014, these recent figures support the idea the industrial sector has become markedly safer in the 21st century. And with the integration of data capture assets and predictive analytics systems capable of parsing streams of information regarding equipment deficiencies long before they turn into failures, the potential for greater safety gains down the road is practically an inevitability.

What EAM and automation mean for HSE risk management

Of course, many would argue the nature of industrial sector work has changed considerably with the proliferation of automated tools aimed at improving quality, minimizing manual labor and increasing productivity. Automation, we would argue, also pushes managers to appraise their workers' values higher as these roles become less about operations and more about expertise. But instead of focusing our discussion on an HSE solution and on what smarter asset management through automation does, let's turn our attention to what it doesn't do – namely, assume risk unnecessarily.

Take, for example, Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standard 1910.95 App A regarding noise exposure on the worksite. Because OSHA regulations that protect employee eardrums can be broken down into formulae and quantifiable values, a site supervisor savvy enough could invest in low-cost programmable audiodosimeter technology the same way he or she would thermographic or cymatic sensors for reading equipment functionality.

In the same way, an overheated piston would trigger notifications and possibly even an investigation, an ambient noise sensor could alert staff to clear an area with higher than average noise until the issue can be addressed, thereby preventing progressive hearing loss and any resultant workers' compensation claims or OSHA violations.

In short: Leaders in Industry 4.0 won't just believe their work sites are safe. They will know they are by setting parameters with actionable data and building operations on the foundation of compliance.

This is one of many illustrative examples of the power Industry 4.0 and advanced EAM solutions bring to the world of HSE. For more information, check out "You can't spell EAM without HSE," our exploration of the role HSE plays in an asset-intensive industry like yours.

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