Dividing a Project Into Phases
Depending on the size of your facility, a complete lockout-tagout program can be a large investment. Even smaller facilities with high machine density will see a high cost in outsourcing their lockout program. A high upfront cost should not scare companies into compromising with a subpar lockout program. A popular option for maintaining a yearly budget is to break your lockout program installation into phases. Depending on the size and budget, companies will typically break their lockout/tagout program into three or four phases. Phases are normally divided yearly but can be customized to any timeframe depending on the budgetary constraints. The advantage to yearly phases is the entire lockout/tagout budget can be used, companies do not have to compromise on quality, and the equipment that is used most can be prioritized.
Phases can be broken up by area, equipment type, or quantity. The industry recommended approach is to divide phases up by equipment type. Equipment that is repaired and locked-out more should receive priority when creating procedures. Using this mentality, a three phase project will typically be broken up into production, support, and facilities equipment.
Production equipment is the heart of a facilities process. Because of this, production equipment is the most used and most likely to be locked-out for repairs. The first phase of a lockout program should be focused on this equipment. While this is the best choice, it may not always be possible. It is common for production equipment to make up 70% or more of a facilities inventory. When breaking a project into three phases it would be impossible to get all the production equipment into one phase (and still stay on budget). The solution to this is planning on what equipment you want first and dividing the production equipment into the first two phases. Machines that do not require constant maintenance can be pushed into phases two and three. It is crucial that the employer recognize that not all the equipment can be captured and once and create a plan ahead of time. The success of a phased lockout/tagout program is dependent on the communication between customer and contractor.
The second phase will depend on what was accomplished in phase one. If production equipment still needs to be included, it will take priority. Once all the production equipment is completed the next step is completing the support equipment. Support equipment includes all pieces that support the production equipment including: air compressors, pumps, and heat exchangers. This equipment receives priority over facilities equipment because it is crucial to keeping production active. Support equipment will typically require more maintenance than facilities equipment.
The final phase will be a combination of any remaining equipment in the facility. Normally the final phase will be a mix of support and facilities equipment. Facilities equipment includes anything to keep the building running such as: air handlers, unit heaters, water pumps, and exhaust fans. Often times this equipment is simple and has a lower chance of requiring maintenance.
When all the phases of lockout program are completed they need to be merged into one single program. This point of the project is dependent on the consistency maintained through the three phases. Choosing the right company who can produce a consistent product is key to making the entire project fit together. ESC Services has extensive experience in single and multi-phase projects. ESC Services can provide a complete lockout/tagout program from procedures, energy source labeling, and a digital system so you can expand the project on your own.