The state of procedures in the process manufacturing industry is poor compared to other industries such as nuclear and aerospace. There are many reasons for this, but the root cause mostly stems from an industry that is satisfied with minimal compliance of process safety management regulations rather than an obsession for operational excellence. Human reliability and the limitations of paper-based technology vs the availability of digital technologies are other key factors.
Procedures are the backbone of any high-risk facility. Accurate, fit-for-purpose procedures support use and adherence guidelines, promote desired safety outcomes, and minimize risk to people and equipment. Procedures also transfer knowledge to new workers from those that came before them who used and refined procedures over time. Best-in-class procedures not only achieve regulatory compliance in and of themselves, but promote achievement of environmental, safety, and security regulations.
Unfortunately, most industries live in a world where procedure writers are not adequately trained, and they lack the proper tools to consistently author human factored procedures across their organizations. Common structural limitations are word processing software along with the difficulty of managing hundreds or thousands of individual files on a network drive.
This impedes management of change and the ability to efficiently make necessary changes to deliver procedures in a user-friendly, timely manner. Add the lack of integration, spotty coverage, inconsistent controls, governance, and management support, and you have a recipe for losses that at best result in high inefficiency and at worst loss of life.
Based on years of research, interviews and findings from the Advanced Next Generation Procedure Research Project at Texas A&M University of which ATR is a founder, a Procedure Program Evaluation was created to progressively measure the maturity, value and effectiveness of a company’s procedure program based on a risk scale from 0 – 100%.
Overall scores break down as High Risk, Poor, Fair, and Excellent. From a benchmark standpoint, the nuclear industry in almost all cases is Fair, primarily because they too have not adopted a digital procedure approach. We encourage you to take our survey to find out how your company stacks up.
Procedure program operational excellence is achievable. Adopt superior processes, an integrated procedure lifecycle, disciplined governance, and a digital database technology approach to authoring and delivering procedure content to the workforce. Emerge from “typewriter technology” to normalized, mobile-ready digital content along with all other recommended best practices.
Doing so can propel companies’ procedure programs from good to great. Recapturing the workforce’s trust in procedures can only happen when the content is readily available, accurate, fit for the job at hand, and safe. Add human factors and you have the makings of excellent procedures and a world-class procedure program.