Safety is often cited by manufacturing and processing organizations as their number one priority for good reason. The International Labour Organization reports that there are approximately 317 million workplace injuries and more than 2.3 million deaths resulting from workplace accidents or work-related diseases every year. In the U.S., 6 million non-fatal worker injuries cost businesses more than $125 billion annually, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Facing such statistics, its clear that commitment to safety is not just a nice slogan, it’s a business imperative.
With that in mind, Rockwell Automation recently released its Safety Maturity Index (SMI) for Machine Builders Tool. This online assessment tool is reportedly designed to help machine builders optimize and differentiate machine designs not only for the clear safety benefits, but also as a way for OEMs to differentiate their machines from the competition.
Mark Eitzman, safety market development manager at Rockwell Automation, said the new SMI tool provides a self-guided assessment for machine builders to measure their performance in the three pillars of industrial safety: culture (behavior), compliance (procedure) and capital (investment in contemporary technology).
Rockwell Automation says the SMI tool measures and reports a machine builder’s performance in each of the three safety pillars on a scale of one to four—SMI 1: minimizing costs, SMI 2: legal compliance, SMI 3: operator safety and SMI 4: customer value.
When asked about how the SMI tool addresses an issue as subjective as culture, Eitzman said, “The tool uses a set of questions about culture to assess whether a machine builder views safety as a cost to be reduced or a key part of its overall value proposition to customers. An SMI 4 machine builder views safety as a core value that is embedded into its company culture. This machine builder designs safety into machines in a way that improves productivity rather than focusing on reducing the cost of its machines. This results in machines that are more valuable to customers over the long term.”
The tool also provides insights into areas that need the most improvement. This enables machine builders to use the tool to identify inconsistencies between facilities and benchmark themselves against peers. Rockwell Automation clarifies that the information shared in the tool is confidential, stressing that each company’s profile is not associated with its response or results.
“Machines with best-in-class safety deliver performance benefits that help end users cost-justify a higher value machine,” said Eitzman. “In turn, machine builders can differentiate their offerings and rise above the competition. They also can create new revenue streams leveraging their safety expertise, such as risk assessments and training services.”
Eitzman noted that using best safety practices also helps machine builders meet the compliance needs of multinational customers that use the most stringent global safety standards. “This helps machine builders reduce their own product liability risk and future-proof their offerings as regional machine safety standards continue to harmonize toward these global standards,” he said.
According to Rockwell Automation, the SMI tool is applicable to any industry, any company size and any location. It also aligns with the company’s Safety Maturity Index tool designed for end users, which was released in 2013.