Redundancy in the workplace might, at first, sound like a waste of time and money to some. Why would you need a backup plan for something if the initial procedures work well? You might think, “If a piece of equipment goes down, we’ll just order a replacement part.” But having a spare part on hand and ready to go could eliminate downtime and provide a more efficient solution. Or, as another example, a company might have only the basic procedures in place for cybersecurity, with no backups in case of a successful cyber-attack. This mindset of fixing problems as they arise can be dangerous and can result in lost profits and customers, cybersecurity breaches, and production delays.
The old proverb is true, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. From your plant operations to documentation development, redundancy is far from wasteful; it’s necessary!
Why is Redundancy Important for Critical Operations?
Building redundancy into critical operations refers to a second system or procedure that, in the event of equipment failure or problems, ensures that your equipment continues operating without delay until the primary system can be repaired.
Redundancy could also mean having a spare part on hand to replace a failing part. A good day-to-day example of this is the spare tire in your car. Similarly, if you know a part in your plant’s machinery fails often, could fail soon, or is necessary to your operations, having a spare available can help ensure less downtime and greater peace of mind.
While you can try to plan for risks, the unexpected has a way of wreaking havoc! By not having redundancy procedures or protocol in your facility, you are gambling with your profits and the safety of your employees.
Here are a few ways having redundancy built into your operation procedures are beneficial:
Redundancy improves system reliability. NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Release Subsystem Lead Engineer, Damion Lucas, confesses, “As designers, we always want to make sure that we have redundancy, not only to meet our requirements, but to ensure crew safety and mission success. . . When you’re designing systems, especially critical ones . . . a complete end-to-end evaluation and analysis of redundancy and potential failure scenarios should be performed.” Failing to have a plan for redundancy can seriously hamper your facility’s ability to perform its operations as you would like and your clients expect. Redundancy can help ensure that your hardware and software stay online and that systems keep working when you (and your clients) need them most, resulting in fewer closures, delays, and lost profits.
With increased reliability comes increased safety. Redundancy is a must to keep your workers safe and protect their lives by reducing accidents.
A perfect example of redundancy in action in a plant when safety is of top importance is the use of lockout tags. When your maintenance employee notifies a plant operator that a machine needs maintenance and is not to be turned on, that is only the first line of defense. What happens if that plant operator walks away, and someone else walks up, unaware of the situation, and turns on the machine? It’s possible, too, that your maintenance employee forgets to tell anyone they will be working on a specific machine. Failing to have a form of redundancy in this instance can result in serious injury to, or even death of, the worker. The lockout tags help add another layer of protection in case the first standard procedure (notifying the operator) fails for some reason.
It’s important to note that for redundancy to work in a plant, employees need to be aware of the safety protocols. Training that fails to notify employees of the proper procedures could result in accidents. Complacency or solely relying on those redundancy procedures can cause issues of its own. Employees should never just be “going through the motions,” but rather constantly aware of safety issues, procedures, and hazards.
Redundancy is also an essential component when it comes to IT in your facility.
First, you need to think about the information your facility collects, from manufacturing procedures to formulas to customer and worker information. If something were to happen to the hard drive these details are stored on, such as a fire or a flood, the data could be lost forever. How will this affect production, payroll, and your clients?
Second comes your facility’s network. It’s likely your machines and equipment rely on a network to operate. If you fail to have a redundant network, a simple internet outage could bring down all of your work. Natural disasters can also be responsible for bringing down networks. Having a system and backup plan your team can rely upon will help ensure work continues on schedule.
And last, but far from least: cybersecurity. Cyber-attacks are on the rise, and plants are a common target for cybercriminals. Redundancy in your cybersecurity policies can help ensure you have plans and backup plans to keep out malicious actors. Employees should also be educated on these plans, as mishandled phishing emails, for example, has been responsible for major cyber-attacks in recent years. Are your team members taking the necessary steps to verify the information that comes into their inbox?
Shea Uses Redundancy in their Documentation Development Process
Redundancy isn’t only for equipment – it can be used in just about every business or industry. And at Shea Writing and Training, we use redundancy in our documentation development process. We have built-in redundancies that . . .
Reduce Single Points of Failure
It’s important that documentation gets completed on time. Whether you need it for opening day or you must submit paperwork to the government by a specific date, failures in the documentation development process can cause delays for your organization. This can result in lost profits, budget overruns, or even fines.
However, at Shea, our redundancy procedures work to reduce those points of failure. If the Shea writers dedicated to your project call in sick, we can provide substitute writers to avoid development delays. And we assign project managers to track budgets, ensuring you’re not going over budget with your documentation.
We also work to bridge the gap between the engineer and the end-user by seamlessly interlacing the technical content and the necessary steps to follow.
Improve Documentation Quality
Your documentation needs to fit your brand and be consistent across the board. It won’t help if one document is in one format and writing style, and another document, similar yet different, is in another format and writing style. It creates confusion for your team and time wasted double-checking information. It can also result in inaccurate content if your writers aren’t coordinating with one another. If you have several different writers or employees completing this documentation, these are real possibilities and problems.
But Shea understands the importance of quality documentation. A quality assurance edit is part of every draft cycle to make sure the work is consistent with your brand and in line with the expectations and needs of the project. We also use editing checklists that guarantee consistent documentation.
And, of course, accuracy is a must. That’s why we hold comment resolution meetings with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to ensure accurate content, and have a community of experienced writers on staff that can draw from a depth of knowledge.
Provide Flexibility while Reducing Costs
While schedules are handy tools, and necessary for facility operations, that doesn’t mean they are written in stone. Changing circumstances can mean your schedule could also change drastically. Or an emergency might occur that means you need a writing team that can adjust to a new timeline.
At Shea, if something changes, whether it’s your projected schedule or the scope of the work, we’re able to adapt to meet your needs. We have additional writers on hand who we can add to your team quickly to meet tight deadlines or changing scopes. By hiring Shea, your company will bypass the time it takes to recruit, vet, and to fully onboard a new hire. The same is true in the reverse. If work slows or you don’t need as many writers during a certain time of the year, we can also scale down your project so you’re not overpaying for employee downtime.
Working with Shea also allows you to hand off your documentation projects to a team of trusted, expert writers, you can focus on other tasks and delegate the responsibility of collecting content from multiple sources and incorporating it into a single document. Our writers conduct interviews with SMEs to obtain information quickly and efficiently, reducing the amount of time your SMEs spend on drafting the content themselves.
Redundancy is a necessity in the workplace – and in developing documentation. We understand this and always incorporate redundancy into our work to ensure we meet the needs of your business.
How will you incorporate redundancy into your own organization to improve reliability, increase safety, and focus on security? We suggest starting with a scoping meeting. Schedule a conversation with us today!