Plant Dossiers – What are they and why do you need them?

Peter Standish

This post is about sharing the best possible approaches to information that accompanies the tools and machinery that we use to achieve tasks in our businesses. To be consistent with the statute and guidelines – I’m using the term Plant throughout this post to cover off on any tool, machine or item of equipment used in a business.

Most large items of Plant are complex. They are typically built as part of a low volume (<10,000 units per year) production line process – and each has a suite of unique features and build activities carried out that gives every item of plant in the product line its own unique set of features.

The information you normally receive with this sort of plant is a(n):

These typically arrive as a set of folders or a DVD and end up on a shelf or saved on a server. When new information is sent out by the OEM there might be processes on site to manage including this new material into the original source documentation – but it is rare to find an organisation that is doing this well enough to get an A+ grade. Typically (and as I’ve observed after most accidents involving plant) there are holes in the process – updates aren’t included or the actions indicated by them cannot be demonstrated as complete. This is not good.

So – rather than have these documents as stand alone items that go through a flurry of activity when the Plant is arriving on site and then are left to “fend for themselves” – which is very tricky for a folder on a shelf – they should be a dynamic, contextually linked suite of information with trackable actions when changes occur. The information is updated as new material comes to light – and ongoing maintenance records, testing, operating history and related strategic decisions is kept current in the Plant Dossier until the plant is disposed of.

My thinking:

A well crafted Plant Dossier will help you introduce and manage this plant to achieve the highest levels of safe production possible.

There are many (typically >300 files) which should form part of the initial Plant Dossier – and this should grow to double that number or more after 5 years of active service. I’ve spelt out more of the documentation that can be developed and used in the linked posts below – but having quick access to the latest version of the right documents can speed up fault finding, improve operator usage and dramatically reduce the risk of suffering a worst case loss related to your plant. As part of my consulting work the ORM team and I have deployed RiskMentor – customised and renamed to reflect the OEM / site the plant relates to – as this type of solution. Controlled documents are electronically linked to items of plant, components, activities, layout drawings / photos and risk management controls to make them quick to find, keep current and track activity on. This approach is a lot better than out of date folders composting on shelves in an over-worked engineer’s office!