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A blueprint for global safety

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article image The bottling lines at Diageo’s Huntingwood plant
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The implementation of a new safety system at a bottling plant has set a precedent for one manufacturer.
 
For the development of a safer bottling plant and the enhancement of workplace safety culture, Diageo has won the Safety Scheme of the Year award at the 2013 Endeavour Awards.
 
Diageo is the world's largest manufacturer of spirits, beers, and wines, operating in 180 markets and employing 25 000 people globally, with plants in the UK, US, Canada, Spain, Italy, Africa, South America, India, and Australia.
 
Diageo Australia has local operations in Huntingwood and Bundaberg.
 
A routine risk assessment identified that a number of the bottling lines at the Huntingwood plant required upgrading from a machine safety perspective.  
 
The manufacturer's risk assessment identified that it need to upgrade its safety standard monitoring system.
 
It explained that "the old system was a mish-mash of different safety technology and provided for no consistent safety methodology relating to the operation of the plant".
 
With no consistent safety practices the company found it difficult to further develop safer operating standards.
 
According to Diageo "the safe control system to monitor the safety aspects of the bottling line was required to satisfy Category 4 of (AS 4024.1-2006, Australia's safety of machinery standard)".
 
Diageo undertook a safety upgrade project for two of its bottling lines at the Huntingwood plant, with a view to creating a global best practice blueprint which could not only be rolled out throughout its Australian operation but also globally.
 
A number of different safety concepts were developed to share with the various stakeholders from operators, engineers through to the maintainers and managers to ensure various personnel had sufficient input into the safe design process and were bought in to its implementation.
 
The system was then designed and implemented by a third party safety contractor (Brolton Engineering Group) to Diageo's standards. 
 
Diageo selected a state-of-the-art distributed programmable safety control system which meets the various system requirements and contained almost 800 safe I/O spread across 13 remote processing head modules distributed across the plant.  
 
The system operates over 130 discrete safety processes to ensure the machinery is constantly operating in a safe state.
 
The safety upgrade has resulted in a higher level of safety for the entire bottling process protecting the 100 workers employed there. 
 
A critical part of the project was the complexity of the system changeover as it was expected to create little to no downtime with a significant amount of processes to test, as well as having a short system rollback time if it was deemed not to move forward with the changeover.
 
The final stage was a safety validation to ensure every safety aspect to the system is appropriately and thoroughly tested by a certified person leaving the machinery in its final operating state.
 
The project took around a year to commission, test, and then validate trouble-free operation. 

Diageo added that the entire process "required significant engineering input to ensure the functionality met Diageo's safety requirements, did not impede production line productivity and throughput as well as improving the diagnostic and troubleshooting capability of the operators with regards to the safety system".
 
The new safety control system for Diageo's Huntingwood bottling lines facility dramatically improved all safety aspects when compared to the old system that was in place.  
 
Once the new safety system was installed it specifically has achieved the following improvements.
 
Almost immediately there was a higher level of safety for the entire bottling process, from depalletisers, fillers, labellers case packers and palletisers.
 
There is now safe locking of guards in dangerous areas to prevent operator access while machinery is moving and during cleaning (Clean In Place), lessening the risk of accidentally injuring any workers on site.
 
Simpler diagnostics and troubleshooting information now to allow the operator to quickly identify safety breaches which are stopping the bottling line before it becomes a major issue.
 
The enforcement of the use of the standard operating procedures providing more checks and balances that ensures the operator is following the correct sequence and makes operating procedures more transparent for both the company and the worker. 
 
Diageo stated that this upgrade "has actively demonstrated a commitment to safety on the plant floor to employees as a result of the significant project investment and re-enforces Diageo's quest for a zero Harm safety culture".
 
Importantly, this upgrade is not a one-off isolated achievement, as it was a test case for implementation and will now be used as a blueprint for all future safety upgrade projects, not only in Australia but also globally where the Diageo plant in Ireland has followed a similar project process and design.

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