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Sustainability in instrumentation and process control: Culture as a key factor

Posted on July 22nd, 2016 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence

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Various aspects of the culture in which a plant operates can affect its sustainability.  The culture in the plant can often be the most exhilarating or burdensome cultural force affecting the sustainability.  For example, a dynamic leader in the organization can unleash ideas that can significantly improve sustainability.  On the other hand, working under a person that is averse to change will generally create roadblocks at every turn.

Various parts of the world, different countries, and different locations in the organization can and do have different cultures that can affect their local cultures.  For example, people in some cultures tend to use tried-and-proven technology while people tend to try new things in other cultures.  In some cultures, people tend to take the initiative and do things while in other cultures people wait to be told what to do — lest they be blamed for making a mistake.  For example, an instrumentation and control professional might initiate the upgrade of a feedback level control strategy that oscillates to a cascade level control strategy that should provide better control.  This may be perfectly acceptable in some cultures but it can be culturally unacceptable in others for a number of reasons — including overstepping of authority by initiating a modification in an area where another person has responsibility.  This type of cultural issue can impede making the plant more sustainable — especially when the person in responsible charge is relatively inexperienced.

All told, the local culture is typically the dominant culture on a day-to-day basis and usually (but not always) reflects the larger culture(s) in which it operates.  The local culture can have a profound effect on sustainability.

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All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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