DISCERN, THEN DECIDE: Choose to make facility operations an advantage

One definition of the word ‘discernment’ is “The ability to judge well.” That requires not only adequate knowledge, but also the ability to muster enough experience to detect whether a course of action is wise, or foolish. Such is the path — and signposts on it — when evaluating companies for their facility operations and maintenance capabilities.

Kinetics, a global leader in specialty markets, continues to be a frequent choice among discerning operations, engineering, and management leaders. Behind this confidence in Kinetics is a product portfolio spanning the spectrum of chemical, specialty, and bulk gas supply systems in microelectronics and photovoltaic facilities. These flow into quality- and volume-driven industries that encompass alternative energy, biotech, and healthcare as well.

But what specific attributes and experience best comprise a checklist to evaluate potential vendor partners in facility operations? From Kinetics vantage point, seven are essential (often in the order indicated), whether or not there’s been an initial culling of companies, and regardless of whether time and budget are under pressure.

Item #1: Speak the language.

Can any company under consideration fathom the overall production concepts anchored in a physical plant? And, because of their informed, industry-specific vocabulary, does the discussion quickly progress to site- and process-specific questions? This industry fluency is the non-negotiable starting point.

Item #2: Understand the operation.

The day a facility starts running is the time to discover how best to manage, tweak, and even compensate for unexpected shortcomings. Can the vendor zoom in on what makes each line, flow, process, and control system effective over time and changes in personnel?  In some ways, this is where daily performance is rooted. Yes, both peril and possibility reside in the details.

Item #3: Elevate the ordinary.

From cylinder and drum transport and change-out to chemical batch blending and routine system inspections, it can be easy (or even, lazy) to make assumptions about the pedestrian elements of facility operation. In our experience, vendors who aren’t enthused at this level don’t represent a viable level of vigilance once granted a contract. Nor do they possess the ability to see opportunity in the middle of it all.

Item #4: Spot the anomalies.

Beyond awareness of the specifics, do vendors have a deep and abiding sense of where and when safety is on the line, or where bottlenecks are likely to occur in the operation? Knowing what’s functional and where improvements are possible, takes this acumen. Once again, foundational experience is essential, because seeing exceptions requires an understanding of baseline standards.

Item #5: Pursue incremental improvements.

Without a plan to evaluate and improve, enterprise goals can fade into the background. Can the prospective vendor document such tweaking in other settings? Are the people assigned to the project observant, or even borderline obsessive? Is there an appreciation for the economic and safety implications of in-line adjustments, along with a desire to chase them down?

Item #6: Mandate disciplined reviews.

Consistent procedures, validated through routine measurement and analysis, are the start. But this must flow into ongoing inspection, cleaning, and documented quality monitoring. At Kinetics, our dedication to sustainability, along with environmental health and safety (EHS), translates into a rhythm and regimen safeguarded by accountability and documentation.

Item #7: Have a stake in the game.

Suppliers with a vested interest in an industry are more likely to work to preserve their standing and status. Is a vendor well connected to current operators, some of whom are lauded for their results? Can past and current performance be verified as both relevant and consistent? Will a failure to meet expectations materially affect their business?

In parallel to this checklist, Kinetics evaluates its people, process, and subcontractors with an eye toward comprehensive management of volatile, expensive materials, and the finished results they need to produce. For, in the final analysis, discernment is everyone’s business. Learn more; simply click HERE.