“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” That’s the mantra management guru Peter Drucker planted in the heads of many businessmen and women over the years.
Certainly, each chemical facility has its own set of data for measuring and managing factors from operational efficiency and capacity utilization to worker safety. But what about benchmarking data from peers? That’s where our monthly polls can come in handy. The quick polls query our audience about important issues specific to the chemical industry.
In a recent poll, we asked readers: How often does your site check the condition of its heat-transfer fluids? More than half (51.4%) answered “rarely,” “never” or “don’t know.” And only 26.9% said they regularly check the condition. Where does your facility fall? Is it something you should better manage?
Another poll posed this question: How often do executives at your company explicitly talk about process safety? Nearly two-thirds (61.6%) answered “frequently” and only 2.9% said “never.” Is that true of your site? And if so, does it match what you’re seeing in terms of safety incidents – meaning the talks are paying off? If not, there could be a problem. Dr. M. Sam Mannan, director of the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center and the host of our Process Safety webinar series, noted in one of his sessions that some leaders merely offer lip service when it comes to safety. If it’s just a chore that needs to be checked off a list, failure is sure to follow. You can watch the archived sessions or sign up for the upcoming installations.
For some time we’ve been addressing the impact retiring baby boomers will have on the industry. A major concern is losing the expertise these veteran employees possess. It seems that our audience is concerned with losing all that knowledge, too. We asked readers: How would you characterize your site’s effectiveness in training new engineers? Nearly two-thirds (63.2%) rate the effectiveness as “high” or “moderate.” Only 4.2% say completely ineffective. How do new engineers at your site view training initiatives? If you’re experiencing high turnover, maybe it’s time to recalibrate.
Another question we posed to readers: Would you actually whistleblow if you uncovered or encountered an issue at your site that could endanger public well being? Only 13.6% said “no.” Of the remaining 86.4%, 56.3% said “yes” they would blow the whistle and 30.1% “didn’t know.” Use this information however you see fit to measure and manage. As for Drucker, he had mixed feelings on whistle-blowers. However, he did state, according to the Drucker Institute website: “There are misdeeds of the superior or of the employing organization which so grossly violate propriety and laws that the subordinate . . . cannot remain silent.” According to him, the first responsibility of any professional: Above all, do no harm.
To check out the results of our polls, visit chemicalprocessing.com/poll-questions (we are working on getting the backlog of results posted). We hope that the next time you see one of our polls, you will participate. And, if you have a question you want answered by your peers, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's Senior Digital Editor. You can email her at email@example.com.