Distracted Driving: Don’t Do It in Washington Or Anywhere Else!

Distracted Driving Image

Distracted driving, including of course texting or holding a phone to talk while driving, is always a bad idea.

We here at Convergence Training wanted to call out the issue in particular for our customers who come out to visit us at our headquarters in Camas, WA. And that’s because the state of Washington recently passed a tough new distracted driving law that can lead to a hefty $136 penalty if you violate it.

According to the article from the Seattle Times linked above, here’s what’s illegal:

The law forbids handheld uses. Not just phone calls, but composing or reading any kind of message, social media post, photograph or data.

Drivers may not use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.

All video watching is illegal, even in a dashboard or dash-mounted device.

But this hazard is a serious problem all over the nation, not just in Washington. For example, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is suggesting a national “no call, no text, no update behind the wheel” ban on this kind of stuff.

Here’s what the NTSB has to say about handheld devices and distracted driving:

New connectivity has enabled new safety technologies. But it has also enabled new forms of distraction, leading to accidents and deaths, even in the most strictly regulated transportation enterprises. Since 2003, the NTSB has found PED distraction as a cause or contributing factor in 11 accident investigations. Those crashes resulted in 259 people injured and 50 people killed. And the NTSB does not investigate the majority of highway crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports hundreds of such deaths on our highways in 2012 alone. According to NHTSA, drivers engaging in visual-manual tasks, such as dialing or texting, triple their risk of a crash.

So put the phone down and pay attention to the road and the cars and people around you. You’ll be happy you did, and we promise–there’s nothing all that important going on in your phone.

Our Alert Driving Online Training course covers the dangers associated with using hand-held devices while driving plus a lot more. For example, check out the video sample below, which covers the 2-second rule for keeping enough space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

And hey, if you’re having trouble putting down your phone while driving, you might want to review this article on cell phone addiction.

Read More

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance Training Image

Maintenance can be a major effort at a company, and maintenance costs can chew up a lot of dollars.

And I’m probably telling you nothing new when I say that when maintenance isn’t done, and something breaks, the cost of downtime can be even more significant.

One way to spend less on maintenance in general, and to lose less on maintenance-related downtime, is to practice a preventive maintenance approach.

In this article, we offer a Q&A on some basic topics related to maintenance and preventive maintenance.

Before you begin, you might want to check this short sample from our online Equipment Maintenance and Reliability training course.

Preventive Maintenance: Question & Answer Session

The questions below should give you a good introduction to the practice of preventive maintenance and some reasons to perform it. Our expert for this article is Greg Squires of Maintenance Connections.

Question: Could you tell us what preventive maintenance is, how it’s different from “normal” maintenance, and pick up the relationship of preventive maintenance to asset management?

Yeah, they’re definitely related. So, just to start, if I am a maintenance manager in any type of facility, whether it be a real estate facility with hundreds of units that have assets, or if I am responsible for all of the facilities at a university, with large buildings and electronic equipment that runs the screens in the classrooms, or if I am responsible for a hospital, I am the engineering director, then I have got all kinds of equipment that needs to be managing real life and death, or if I’m running a manufacturing facility and I’m responsible for production lines and heavy equipment, and all kinds of things, and lastly with fleets, cars and trucks and vehicles that need to move around, all of those are simply called assets, and so if I am responsible for those assets, they need to be maintained, right, and so how do I maintain those? I need to follow the instruction manual, every asset for a manufacturer has a recommended preventive maintenance schedule, and that comes in the handbook, or a digital version of a user guide, and it describes that this activity needs to be performed at this interval, on this machine, and here’s how you do it.

So the preventive maintenance on those assets is being proactive to perform those activities before they need to actually get done, and so how do you know when something breaks, when something fails, because you didn’t perform that activity that needed to be done, to replace that belt, to replace that transistor, or whatever it may be. And so preventive maintenance is simply working ahead of schedule and fixing things before they break. It’s very much like replacing the oil in your car, and the air filters in your engine, in order to keep the engine running smoothly, and preventing downtime or breakage.

There is a cost in downtime, especially in manufacturing. Every minute you can equate to an amount of dollars or units you can put out the door, and every minute you’re not up has a discrete cost. And so maintaining your equipment and keeping your systems running is sort of an unsung, heroic job. When everything’s going well, nobody complains, and when things go down, all the fingers get pointed, so that’s a main driver for implementing and driving a really strong maintenance management program, is around uptime.

Question: Can you explain the difference between unplanned maintenance, preventive maintenance, and predictive maintenance? 

Sure. Let’s start with unplanned. Simply put, this is maintenance that hasn’t been previously planned and that is performed because of equipment breakdowns, repairs, etc. It can also be referred to as corrective or reactive maintenance.

Now, let’s consider preventive. Preventive maintenance is performed so that equipment breakdowns, repairs, etc., don’t happen in the first place (or at least less frequently and severely).

And lastly, predictive. Predictive maintenance is based on continuous monitoring and assessments of equipment to understand when maintenance needs to be performed.

Question: What are some metrics companies might want to consider when evaluating their maintenance program? 

The ratio of reactive and preventive maintenance is important. We’ve learned performing more preventive maintenance correlates strongly with increased asset/equipment life and with return on investment (ROI) of maintenance software purchases.

A variety of other metrics can be introduced to understand program performance, from backlog of work orders to percent of scheduled work that was completed (i.e. schedule compliance) to overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and beyond.

Question: When workers are performing preventive maintenance facilities, especially in a manufacturing facility, what are some of the things they’d be doing?

Repairing and/or replacing defective parts; inspecting equipment using measuring/testing instruments to understand wear and tear; and making adjustments and modifications to functional parts of devices and control instruments.

Question: What are some benefits a company would be likely to see as a result of using preventive maintenance? 

There are many, including fewer machine breakages and downtime, lower costs associated with machine breakages and downtime, increased efficiency of machine operation and therefore production, and longer-lasting machines/equipment. Performing more preventive maintenance can result in increased asset/equipment life, decreased asset/equipment downtime (also known as “uptime”) and other unexpected benefits such as return on investment (ROI) of maintenance software purchases.

Question: What percentage of companies would you say are using preventive or predictive maintenance instead of purely unplanned maintenance?

The data in the chart below comes from roughly 1,000 organizations that participated in our State of CMMS research. We separate the companies into seven different levels, based on their ratio of Reactive Maintenance to Preventive Maintenance.

  • All Reactive (95% or more): 6% of organizations in study
  • 20% Preventive/80% Reactive: 22% of organizations in study
  • 40% Preventive/60% Reactive: 18% of organizations in study
  • 50% Preventive/50% Reactive: 11% of organizations in study
  • 60%Preventive/40% Reactive: 17% of organizations in study
  • 80% Preventive/20% Reactive: 22% of organizations in study
  • All Preventive (95% or More): 4% of organizations in study

The studies shows that few organizations are entirely or nearly entire reactive (only 6%) and few organizations are entirely or nearly entirely preventive (only 4%). Most organizations blend both reactive and preventive maintenance.

Question: I imagine one people talk or think about maintenance, it’s easy to forget the related issues of parts and supplies. How can setting up a preventive maintenance schedule help ensure a proper inventory of replacement parts and supplies? 

Having a well-organized preventive maintenance plan can contribute to better inventory management because naturally, as you noted, you’ll know what work needs to be done in advance, and you’ll know the requirements to complete that work, such as any necessary parts. But, this is just one among many integrated approaches to proper inventory management. And, ultimately…there is a strong correlation with improved parts availability and repair time.

Question: If you’re a company that’s just beginning to set up a preventive maintenance schedule and program, what should you address first? 

There’s not a right and short answer to this question. The first step is nuanced, depends on many factors, and varies depending on who you ask (i.e. maintenance experts/consultants). Some suggest the first step is to assemble a team of key stakeholders; others suggest starting with the end in mind and establishing goals around what you hope to achieve.

Question: Beyond the general concept of “it’s a good idea to do preventive maintenance,” do you have any kind of quantifiable financial benefits of performing preventive maintenance?

Yeah, yeah, there definitely is a tie-in. We have recently done a study that has asked that very question, of over 1,000 maintenance professionals, so you have implemented the software and you’ve worked to become more preventive, so those things sort of go hand-in hand, it is difficult to be preventive without software, and so how would you quantify the savings you’ve had in your program?

Maintenance is a cost center, right? You could spend millions of dollars doing things–like, let’s replace the oil in my car every day. But that would be overboard. So if you think about preventive, you do have decide where you draw the line and so one of the measures is how much savings have you had. So a manufacturing facility can measure savings by uptime vs. downtime, and so, “how much downtime did I have last year, how much downtime did I have this year.” Every minute of downtime has a cost, and so, has our downtime decreased, because we’ve kept our systems running? That is a quantifiable “we’ve prevented millions of dollars of loss by keeping our systems maintained. And then I’ll add one more thing…in a hospital, in a health care environment, this is an environment that is strongly regulated, and so the joint commission is responsible for performing audits of these type of processes, as a in a hospital, you sit there and you’re attached to these machines that are keeping you alive: has that machine been maintained? Has it gotten its regular service? Is it something I can rely upon to keep me alive? That’s why it’s regulated, right? So what is the cost to a hospital of a machine going down? It’s lawsuits, it’s things that they do not want to have to deal with. So there’s a very strong, compelling reason to have good, reliable machines, and to do that you need good reliable maintenance processes, and to do that, you need a good system to manage all that. So, in some ways, you know, the cost is really high, for those types of environments and there’s a great risk, so it allows for appropriate amounts of investments in people, processes, and systems to set your environment up for success.

Question: In addition to managing all the different manuals and recommendations and getting the work done on time, what are some of the challenges that companies face when they decide to go forward on a preventive maintenance program?

We’ve asked that question of our customers as well: what challenges are you facing today, as you’re looking for something to improve, and as you have a program in place, what are your ongoing challenges. So there are a few things. I would say one thing is data: if you’re moving from a place of spreadsheets and access databases, you have to have a way to list all your assets and all your preventive maintenance activities, and get those things loaded into a system in such a way that they’re easy to find and it makes sense to the technicians, so they’ll know “room 202 has asset X that needs to have this valve replaced,” right?

And training is a key, and that’s something relevant to what you guys do and deliver, making sure maintenance technicians know how to perform the maintenance procedures, and providing easy access to the how-to documents, and procedures, for how to perform this replacement of belt in machine X in room 202, and so those procedures are really important, and again, the better they’re written, the better this system can be transferable to 10 and 50 and hundreds of maintenance technicians that may be new to the job or there may be turnover and you need a reliable system in place and not just rely upon domain knowledge of the silver-haired guy who’s been around for 40 years but knows how to fix everything. So training is key.

And I would also say that access to information and reporting is a challenge, right? So I am running some kind of maintenance system, and I’m the CIO, and in the leadership meetings, we’re saying “hey, how’s our uptime, how are we doing with our preventive v. reactive activity, what are we investing? And if the CIO or COO has no way to answer that question, then they are challenged in this discussions, and the business can’t make the decisions they need to make to make things better.

And so that sort of speaks to one other thing that I think is really important in talking about preventive vs. reactive maintenance, and how you progress toward more preventive, and as you asked, well what’s the benefit in doing so. So one of the key benchmarks in maintenance is preventive to reactive ratio, and it is called corrective v. reactive in other environments, but simply put, of all the maintenance activities that were performed in a given month, how many were the ones you planned to do, and how many were unplanned? And that is a measure of how much volatility you have in your systems and whether systems are running well or not, whether assets are healthy or not, and so if you have a bunch of issues, then you’re very reactive, and you don’t have time for the proactive unless you just put in more people. But it is really working, it is a continual process improvement, to work to get the unplanned work to be as small a percentage of your total activity. And what we find is that there is a relationship between higher preventive ratios and greater savings, and so for maintenance programs that are approaching 60 and 80 percent preventive, which means again of all the activities the maintenance team performs, we had 60-80 percent of it dedicated to preventive maintenance, were planned as part of our preventive maintenance process, then you’re seeing the hundreds of thousands and the the millions of dollars being able to be verifiably reported that our program is working well, we’re saving money, and we’re improving our operations and keeping our systems up and running.

Question: Any tips for coordinating efforts throughout departments within an organization?

Yes. If you’re responsible for asset management in your organization, data is critical, so get your data in order. One of the things that I would recommend is, as you think about data, is tying in access and visibility to inventory, and this can be done through a variety of systems, but if you think about this maintenance manager, and he’s responsible for making sure that “belt A” is going to be replaced in Part X in Room 202, then how do you make sure that belt is available in 90 days when you need that preventive maintenance scheduled? So that’s really good data because it will allow you to make sure that you have that product in hand, right?

And to do that, you’ve got to have your systems integrated, so that involves IT, and sometimes maintenance and IT are in the same group, and sometimes they’re in separate groups, operations and engineering and technical, so my recommendation is you need to build allies, you need to work together, you need to have internal stakeholders that have buy-in to make this program better, so if you’re in charge of assets, part of your job is to sell the value in preventive maintenance, and to sort of get ahead of the finger pointing, because what happens when things break is fingers get pointed, and it’s not just that you’re trying to save your tail, but you can’t get stuff done if you don’t have allies, so go build rapport with the technical teams to say “Hey, it would sure be nice if I had greater visibility to that belt in inventory that I’m going to need in 90 days, I can tell you all the things I’m going to need, because I’ve got my preventive maintenance schedule, and let’s make sure those things will be on hand and we have good back-up stock, because what happens is when that belt fails, in an unplanned environment, what if you don’t have that one on hand? You’re not just down for an hour, you’re down for a week until you get it airflighted back to you. So those are a couple of things–data and collaboration with technical teams and building allies makes for a really strong performing maintenance program.

Question: Your company makes a maintenance management software. Can you tell us more about your company and your product?

Yeah. So Maintenance Connection was founded in 1999 and we have built a maintenance software, with over 1,500 companies in health care and manufacturing and city/state government, power plants, are able to manage fleet organizations, so in many verticals, we have delivered a software platform that allows for managing of assets, managing of work orders, the inbound request of work requests, right, a service requester is a critical part as someone in the plant or field or office can effectively raise their hand and say “hey, I need this thing done, can you help?” and that gets routed to the right people and gets done quickly and allows for your service satisfaction to improve. And then of course, moving more toward preventive is an objective and goal of every one of our customers, and so we partner very closely with our customers to work on growth plans to move from their current state of managing assets, managing work orders, and doing what they can with what they have, to having better planning, better labor management, better reports, to be able to know “Hey, these assets are really important for us, these are our critical assets, and if they go down, we’ve got big problems” to prioritize preventive maintenance on those assets.

Conclusion: Preventive Maintenance–It’s Good for You and Your Equipment

We hope you’ve found this introduction to preventive maintenance useful, and we thank Mr. Squires for sharing his knowledge with us.

Let us know if you have any other questions. Otherwise, have a great day.


Download the free guide below before you go!


Manufacturing Training from Scratch: A Guide

Create a more effective manufacturing training program by following these best practices with our free step-by-step guide.

Download Free Guide


Read More

What Is Safety Differently? An Interview with Ron Gantt

What Is Safety Differently Image

If you’ve been paying attention to the safety and health world lately, you may know about “Safety Differently.”

For example, there’s a safety differently website devoted to the topic. In addition, the plenary topic at the recent ASSE Safety 2017 conference contrasted behavior-based safety with human and organizational performance (HOP), which has a lot in common with Safety Differently. This was probably the most discussed session at the ASSE conference that year. And, the May 2017 issue of the ASSE’s Professional Safety magazine featured an in-depth, peer-reviewed article about Safety Differently by Ron Gantt, and that article created a storm of back-and-forth letters to the editor and writer in the later June, 2017 issue.

In this article, we’re interviewing Mr. Gantt to learn more about Safety Differently. So let’s leave the introduction and get right to our interview with Ron Gantt about Safety Differently, below.


Read More

Coming SOON – The Convergence IMS!

When accidents happen, it can be tough to comply with OSHA and MSHA recordkeeping requirements. That’s why we developed our NEW Convergence Incident Management Software (IMS). And since we’re just about a month away from its release, here’s a quick sneak peek at how the Convergence IMS can help you record, track, and create compliant reports for any type of safety incident or near-miss.

The Convergence IMS is designed with an intuitive workflow that guides you through the incident submittal, investigation, and reporting process. Submit incident types, select people involved, take official statements, determine root cause, and assign corrective actions… all within our intuitive, powerful IMS that integrates seamlessly into our Convergence Learning Management System (LMS). You can even produce compliant OSHA and MSHA incident reports directly from the Convergence IMS for official incident reporting.

CLICK HERE or CALL 800-619-2280 to set up a demo with your Convergence Sales Representative.

Read More

Tips for Beating the Training Forgetting Curve

Combatting the Training Forgetting Curve Image

In a recent article, we introduced you to the well-documented forgetting curve in training and explained that something called spaced practice can help reduce or even eliminate the forgetting curve.

In this article, we’re going to give you a few more tips for how to design training that combats the forgetting curve and creates memorable training that employees will not only understand during the training, but that they’ll also remember after the training and put to use on the job.

Sounds like good stuff to know, no?

Let’s get started, then.


Read More

Come See Us at the Tennessee Safety & Health Conference, July 30-August 2, Nashville, TN

We’ll be at the Tennessee Safety & Health Conference in hip and beautiful Nashville, TN, Sunday July 30 to Wednesday, August 2. And we’d love to meet you!

Come on over to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and check out our award-winning, innovative safety and health training solutions in Booth 409. Here’s just a little of what we’ll be able to show you:

Come on by and see why we just won the ISHN Reader’s Choice Award for Best Safety Training and see how we can help with your safety program at work.

Check out our short highlight video while you’re here!

Read More

7 Basic Tools of Quality

7 Basic Tools of Quality Image

Quality control experts lean heavily on the so-called “7 Basic Tools of Quality” to fine-tune processes as part of an overall quality assurance effort.

These basic QA tools are often associated with Karou Ishikawa, a Japanese thinker who’s credited as a heavyweight in quality management and who is especially known for the development of the quality circle and Ishikawa, or fishbone, diagram, which is itself one of the 7 basic tools we’ll talk about in this article.

And as is often the case in quality issues, you can also detect the influence of W. Edwards Deming on the 7 basic tools.

The 7 tools are graphing techniques that people commonly use for quality control troubleshooting purposes.

So let’s start learning about these very useful techniques for quality control.

Quick note: You can download a free 7 Basic Tools of Quality Guide at the bottom of this article.


Read More

Manufacturing Safety Training Tips: How to Get It Right

Manufacturing Safety Training Tips Image

Looking for some manufacturing safety training tips? If so, that makes sense. There’s a lot to be said in favor of working in manufacturing, but it does pose a set of hazards to the workers.

However, safety managers and other safety professionals work tirelessly to create safer, healthier workplaces for manufacturing employees (and of course, in a good safety culture, they’re working hand-in-hand with the employees themselves), and part of that involves safety training for the manufacturing workforce.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through some key aspects of safety and safety training in manufacturing facilities, and give you tips to help create a safer, healthier workplace.

Before we begin, though, know that you can download a free guide to Effective Safety Training by clicking the download button at the end of this article, or just download any of the free guides and/or watch any of the free webinars listed below.

And with all that said, and with those free resources made available, let’s get to listing some manufacturing safety training tips.


Read More

What Is a Hydraulic System? Definition, Design, and Components

Hydraulic System Image

With a variety of applications, hydraulic systems are used in all kinds of large and small industrial settings, as well as buildings, construction equipment, and vehicles. Paper mills, logging, manufacturing, robotics, and steel processing are leading users of hydraulic equipment.

As an efficient and cost-effective way to create movement or repetition, hydraulic system-based equipment is hard to top. It’s likely your company has hydraulics in use in one or more applications for these reasons.

We’ll provide more information about hydraulic systems in this article, including covering the definition and basic designs and components.


Read More

OSHA Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Standards and Requirements

Personal Protective Equipment PPE Image

Many years ago, before the PPE Final Rule, OSHA determined that there were an extensive number of injuries related to workers not wearing effective personal protective equipment. In fact, in the Preamble to the Final Rule, OSHA cited various studies indicating there were 320,000 hand and finger injuries, 70,000 eye injuries, 70,000 head and face injuries, and 110,000 foot and toe injuries in 1987. (Roughly 31 percent of the total disabling injuries for that year.) Rightly so, OSHA decided these numbers merited a Standard (CFR 1910.132) to protect workers from these hazards.

Indeed, PPE does work to safeguard workers. Experts estimate that approximately ninety percent of related injuries could be prevented or minimized by wearing the proper equipment. PPE is a vital and necessary tool in the employer’s arsenal to protect workers.

Fast forward to today. Even with PPE Standards fully in place for decades, we still have an alarming number of eye, face, foot, hand and head injuries. For example, NIOSH states, “Each day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one-third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments, and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days away from work.”

In addition to the effects injuries have on workers, these events can be financially devastating to the organization. Excessive or serious injuries can trigger numerous employer headaches, from high-risk insurance costs to OSHA inspections and penalties. And of course, each injury incident carries indirect costs related to downtime, replacing injured workers, and various related issues.

Given the importance of PPE, let’s look at OSHA’s PPE regulations more closely in this article.


Read More

What To Teach Employees about Confined Spaces

OSHA Confined Space Image
Few workplace areas present as many potentially serious hazards as a confined space. Without dedicated procedures for safe entry and monitoring employees within the confined space, catastrophic events can occur. According to OSHA, approximately ninety workers die in confined spaces every year. OSHA cites failure to recognize and control the hazards as contributing factors in most confined space injuries and fatalities.

This means training is critical to protecting workers if they will enter a confined space.

But it can be challenging for employers to understand the requirements for confined space training, as the hazards of these areas are often very complex or unique to each facility. You’ll have a solid training program if you know the fundamental aspects of the confined space standard and how to apply it to your workplace.

But where to begin? We’ll walk you through the OSHA confined space training requirements in this article and give you some tips for getting started.


Read More

Delivering Safety Training: Read Our Tips in ASSE’s “Professional Safety” Magazine’s July Issue

We’ve got another in a series of articles related to safety training in the July issue of Professional Safety, the official magazine of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

The series of articles provides tips for better safety training, and takes as a starting point some key parts of the ASSE/ANSI Z490.1 standard on effective EHS training. This article focuses on delivering effective EHS training (as opposed to designing it, or developing it, etc.).

We encourage you to check out the ASSE, their Professional Safety magazine, and of course their ANSI Z490.1 standard for environmental, health, and safety training. Also, be aware that ANSI and ASSE are beginning the process of creating ANSI Z490.2, which will deal with online or “virtual” EHS training. We’re on the committee to create that standard and you can read more about that here, here, and here.

To download our free guide to effective EHS training, based on ANSI Z490.1, scroll down to the bottom of this article.


Read More