75% Decrease in Critical Failures Using Microsoft Access
Case Study Summary
Many of the products we purchase today are manufactured using chemicals.
In addition, most manufacturing processes in the chemical industry typically run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Any disruption or downtime can be very costly.
Consequently, the reliability of all systems that support the manufacturing process is critical.
For the plant-wide fire protection system, failures in underground piping were occurring without warning, bringing specific manufacturing processes to a screeching halt.
Data on these failures was non-existent, and without good data, there was no way to figure out what the causes were.
As a first sep, a data strategy was needed to track these critical failures. This would allow the root causes to be determined and then corrective actions to be taken.
Our team created a sophisticated Access database to track and analyze these failures. We also automated reports for key stakeholders using VBA.
Consequently, this effort led to a discovery of the root causes of the failures. This allowed corrective actions to be taken quickly.
Overall, our team's efforts decreased these costly failures by 75% annually.
In addition, we developed a process that had a 99% success rate at preventing failures during required system testing. We also decreased overall risky incidents by 60%.
Most products that we purchase today require chemicals when they're being manufactured. Everything from medicine, upholstery, to soap and makeup.
The vast majority of chemical manufacturing processes are non-stop. meaning, they run 24 hours a day, 7-days a week. Any disruption or downtime can be very expensive.
In addition, to ensure the manufacturing processes are safe and reliable, a lot of support systems are used. For example, advanced fire protection piping systems are used in case something goes wrong.
The fire protection system was experiencing very costly underground piping failures. These failures were significant for the 3 primary reasons:
1. They could require 24/7 manufacturing processes to come to a screeching halt. Downtime can be very expensive.
2. The fire protection underground piping system was always pressurized or "on". Failures could cause flooding and wash-out structures on top of them. This is very dangerous.
3. The cost of repair or replacement could be very expensive.
Additionally, data on these failures was non-existent. Without failure data, there's no way to characterize failures, determine root causes, and put corrective actions in place.
A solid data strategy and action plan was needed, so a specialized team was created.
Overall, I was the team leader and lead developer. Our team's first task was to develop a database to track failure data.
We chose a combination of Access and Excel to accomplish this. The Access database was used to track critical data on prior failures and any new ones, and Excel was used for analysis.
In addition, we automated the creation of reports for key stakeholders using VBA. This allowed transparency into what was happening, which expedited the discovery of the root causes.
With good data, we were able to characterize the failures and identify the root causes. This allowed us to determine a list of corrective actions that would decrease the occurrence of failures.
Overall, our team's efforts reduced the critical failures by 75% annually.
Regular testing is required for fire protection systems. However, testing was also one of the risky activities that was contributing to failures. Consequently, our team developed a safe testing process that had a 99% success rate at preventing failures during testing.
We also executed a strategic plan that reduced risky incidents by over 60% annually.
This project led to a significant annual savings for the plant-site and multiple company awards.
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