Want FREE Templates on Strategy & Transformation? Download our FREE compilation of 50+ slides. This is an exclusive promotion being run on LinkedIn.

Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Safety Instrumented Systems Optimization for a Global Petrochemical Company

There are countless scenarios that require Safety Instrumented Systems. Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Safety Instrumented Systems to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. Let us analyze the following scenario.

Reading time: 9 minutes

Consider this scenario: A multinational petrochemical company is facing significant inefficiencies in its Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS).

Despite having robust systems in place, the organization has experienced several near-miss incidents over the past year. These incidents have not only put the company's employees and assets at risk but also increased the potential for regulatory fines and reputational damage. The company seeks to optimize its SIS to enhance safety, reduce risk, and ensure regulatory compliance.

The company's situation suggests two potential hypotheses. First, the organization's SIS may not be adequately integrated with its overall risk management and operational processes. This could lead to gaps in safety measures and risk mitigation. Second, the company may lack a systematic approach to SIS lifecycle management, resulting in inefficiencies and potential safety risks.


A 5-phase approach to Safety Instrumented Systems can be employed to address the company's issues:

  1. Assessment: Evaluate the current state of the SIS, identify gaps, and assess the level of integration with other systems and processes.
  2. Design: Develop a tailored SIS strategy and design, aligning it with the company's risk management framework and operational processes.
  3. Implementation: Implement the new SIS design, ensuring effective integration with existing systems and processes.
  4. Monitoring: Continuously monitor the SIS performance, identify any discrepancies, and adjust the system as necessary.
  5. Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and update the SIS to ensure it remains effective and compliant with regulatory standards.

Learn more about Risk Management Safety Instrumented Systems

For effective implementation, take a look at these Safety Instrumented Systems best practices:

SIS & ESD (IEC 61511, 61508) Training - SIL Verification & Validation (38-slide PowerPoint deck)
SIS & ESD (IEC 61511, 61508) Training - Safety Instrumented Systems (60-slide PowerPoint deck)
SIS & ESD (IEC 61511, 61508) Training - Safety Integrity Level (52-slide PowerPoint deck)
SIS & ESD (IEC 61511, 61508) Training - SIS Documentation (40-slide PowerPoint deck)
SIS & ESD (IEC 61511, 61508) Training - Practical Examples (46-slide PowerPoint deck)
View additional Safety Instrumented Systems best practices

Are you familiar with Flevy? We are you shortcut to immediate value.
Flevy provides business best practices—the same as those produced by top-tier consulting firms and used by Fortune 100 companies. Our best practice business frameworks, financial models, and templates are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience.

Trusted by over 10,000+ Client Organizations
Since 2012, we have provided best practices to over 10,000 businesses and organizations of all sizes, from startups and small businesses to the Fortune 100, in over 130 countries.
AT&T GE Cisco Intel IBM Coke Dell Toyota HP Nike Samsung Microsoft Astrazeneca JP Morgan KPMG Walgreens Walmart 3M Kaiser Oracle SAP Google E&Y Volvo Bosch Merck Fedex Shell Amgen Eli Lilly Roche AIG Abbott Amazon PwC T-Mobile Broadcom Bayer Pearson Titleist ConEd Pfizer NTT Data Schwab

Key Considerations

When considering the proposed methodology, the CEO might be concerned about the projected timeline, costs associated with the overhaul of the SIS, and the potential impact on ongoing operations. These concerns can be addressed as follows:

  • Given the critical nature of safety, the methodology is designed to be implemented in a phased manner, minimizing disruption to ongoing operations.
  • While there will be initial costs associated with the system overhaul, the long-term savings from reduced incidents, regulatory fines, and reputational damage should outweigh these costs.
  • The methodology also includes continuous monitoring and improvement, ensuring the SIS remains effective and compliant over time.

Upon successful implementation of the methodology, the company can expect several outcomes:

  • Enhanced safety and reduced risk of incidents.
  • Improved regulatory compliance and reduced potential for fines.
  • Increased operational efficiency and cost savings.

However, the company may face several challenges during implementation:

  • Resistance to change, especially if the new system requires significant changes in processes or employee roles.
  • Technical challenges in integrating the SIS with existing systems.
  • Resource constraints, including budget and personnel.

The company should monitor several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure successful implementation:

  • Number of safety incidents: A decrease in incidents indicates a more effective SIS.
  • Regulatory compliance: The company should aim for zero non-compliance issues.
  • Operational efficiency: Reduced downtime and increased productivity indicate an effective system.

Learn more about Key Performance Indicators

Sample Deliverables

  • SIS Assessment Report (Word)
  • SIS Design and Strategy Document (PowerPoint)
  • SIS Implementation Plan (Excel)
  • SIS Performance Dashboard (Excel)
  • Continuous Improvement Plan (Word)

Explore more Safety Instrumented Systems deliverables

Case Studies

Companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell have successfully optimized their Safety Instrumented Systems, resulting in enhanced safety, increased operational efficiency, and improved regulatory compliance.

Explore additional related case studies

Additional Insights

It is essential to consider the human factor in Safety Instrumented Systems. While the system's technical aspects are critical, the people who operate and interact with the system play a significant role in its effectiveness. Training and awareness programs should be an integral part of the SIS strategy.

Furthermore, the company should consider leveraging advanced technologies such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to enhance the SIS. These technologies can help predict potential safety incidents before they occur, allowing the company to take proactive measures.

Learn more about Artificial Intelligence

Integration with Existing Risk Management Framework

One of the first questions that may arise is how the new SIS will integrate with the company's existing risk management framework. Ensuring that the SIS is not a standalone system but part of a broader risk management strategy is crucial. To achieve this, the SIS design will include interfaces and protocols for data sharing and communication with the company's risk management systems. Additionally, the SIS strategy will encompass role definitions and process adjustments to ensure that the system enhances the company's risk posture rather than complicating it. This will help in creating a unified view of risk that includes safety as a core component.

For instance, according to a Gartner report, integrating risk management systems can reduce the time spent on data consolidation by up to 30%, leading to quicker and more informed decision-making. The SIS design will take into account the need for real-time risk assessments, which can dynamically incorporate data from the SIS to adjust the company's overall risk profile.

Safety Instrumented Systems Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Safety Instrumented Systems. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Safety Instrumented Systems subject matter experts.

Systematic Approach to SIS Lifecycle Management

The second question executives might have is regarding the establishment of a systematic approach to SIS lifecycle management. To address this, the methodology incorporates the SIS into the company's asset management framework. This integration ensures that the SIS is treated as a living system that requires regular updates, maintenance, and reviews. The lifecycle management plan will include scheduled assessments, updates to the SIS based on the latest safety standards and technologies, and decommissioning plans for outdated components.

According to a study by McKinsey, effective lifecycle management can extend the useful life of industrial systems by 20% while reducing maintenance costs by up to 10%. By following a structured approach to SIS lifecycle management, the company will not only ensure the system's reliability but also optimize its investment in safety infrastructure.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of SIS Overhaul

Cost is always a major consideration for any significant investment. Executives will want to understand the financial implications of overhauling the SIS. A detailed cost-benefit analysis will be conducted to illustrate the long-term financial benefits of the new SIS compared to the costs. This analysis will take into account the direct costs of incidents that the enhanced SIS aims to prevent, including potential regulatory fines, operational downtime, and reputational damage.

Accenture's research suggests that for every dollar spent on improving safety systems, organizations can expect a return of up to four dollars in reduced costs from incidents and operational efficiencies. The proposed SIS overhaul is designed to be a strategic investment that not only protects the company's workforce and assets but also contributes to the bottom line by minimizing risks that can lead to costly disruptions.

Impact on Ongoing Operations

Another concern for executives will be the impact of the SIS overhaul on ongoing operations. The phased implementation approach is specifically designed to minimize disruption. Each phase of the implementation will be planned in collaboration with operational leaders to ensure that it aligns with production schedules and maintenance windows. Temporary measures may be put in place to maintain safety standards during transitional periods.

Operational impact will be further mitigated by leveraging the insights from real-time monitoring data to schedule system upgrades during periods of low activity. This data-driven approach to scheduling will help to avoid peak times and reduce the potential for operational disruption. For example, PwC highlights that predictive maintenance strategies can reduce downtime by up to 50% and increase equipment lifespan by 20% to 40%.

Resistance to Change and Employee Adoption

Change management is a critical aspect of any major system overhaul. Resistance to change can be a significant barrier to successful implementation. To address this, a comprehensive change management plan will be developed, which includes communication strategies, training programs, and support structures to help employees understand the benefits of the new SIS and their role in its success. The plan will also identify and engage champions within the organization who can advocate for the new system and help their peers through the transition.

Deloitte emphasizes the importance of change management in technology implementations, noting that projects with excellent change management programs meet or exceed objectives 96% of the time, compared to 16% for those with poor change management. By proactively managing resistance to change, the company can ensure a smoother transition to the new SIS and faster realization of its benefits.

Learn more about Change Management

Leveraging Advanced Technologies

Lastly, executives will be interested in understanding how advanced technologies can be leveraged to enhance the SIS. Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will be incorporated into the SIS to anticipate potential safety incidents before they occur. These technologies can analyze historical and real-time data to identify patterns that could indicate a future risk. By proactively addressing these risks, the company can prevent incidents and improve safety outcomes.

AI and predictive analytics can also streamline SIS maintenance by predicting when components are likely to fail and scheduling maintenance proactively. Bain & Company reports that companies using predictive maintenance see 10% to 40% cost savings over reactive maintenance approaches. By adopting these advanced technologies, the company will not only enhance safety but also improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its SIS maintenance activities.

Additional Resources Relevant to Safety Instrumented Systems

Here are additional best practices relevant to Safety Instrumented Systems from the Flevy Marketplace.

Did you know?
The average daily rate of a McKinsey consultant is $6,625 (not including expenses). The average price of a Flevy document is $65.

Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Enhanced safety and reduced risk of incidents by integrating SIS with the company's risk management framework, leading to a 20% decrease in near-miss incidents.
  • Improved regulatory compliance, achieving a 100% compliance rate post-implementation, avoiding potential fines.
  • Increased operational efficiency, with a 15% reduction in downtime due to more effective SIS monitoring and predictive maintenance.
  • Cost savings realized from reduced incidents and operational efficiencies, with an estimated return of $4 for every $1 spent on the SIS overhaul.
  • Successful adoption of advanced technologies, including predictive analytics and AI, leading to a 25% improvement in maintenance efficiency.
  • Significant improvement in employee engagement and understanding of SIS, as evidenced by a 30% increase in proactive safety incident reporting.

The initiative to overhaul the Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) has been markedly successful, addressing both the efficiency and safety concerns that prompted the project. The integration of the SIS with the company's broader risk management framework has not only enhanced safety and reduced the risk of incidents but also improved regulatory compliance and operational efficiency. The quantifiable decrease in near-miss incidents and the substantial cost savings underscore the initiative's success. However, the journey was not without its challenges, including resistance to change and technical integration hurdles. An alternative strategy that might have further enhanced outcomes could have involved even earlier engagement with frontline employees to understand their daily challenges and incorporate their insights into the SIS design. This approach could have further reduced resistance to change and improved system usability.

Given the success and lessons learned from the SIS overhaul, the recommended next steps include a continuous focus on leveraging technology to enhance safety measures. Specifically, expanding the use of predictive analytics and AI across other operational areas could yield significant safety and efficiency gains. Additionally, establishing a cross-functional team dedicated to continuous improvement of the SIS, incorporating feedback from all levels of the organization, will ensure the system remains effective and aligned with the company's evolving needs. Finally, considering the global landscape and varying regulatory requirements, conducting a region-specific analysis to tailor the SIS further could optimize compliance and operational efficiency in different markets.

Source: Safety Instrumented Systems Optimization for a Global Petrochemical Company, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

Flevy is the world's largest knowledge base of best practices.

Leverage the Experience of Experts.

Find documents of the same caliber as those used by top-tier consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, Accenture.

Download Immediately and Use.

Our PowerPoint presentations, Excel workbooks, and Word documents are completely customizable, including rebrandable.

Save Time, Effort, and Money.

Save yourself and your employees countless hours. Use that time to work on more value-added and fulfilling activities.

Read Customer Testimonials

Additional Flevy Management Insights

Download our FREE Strategy & Transformation Framework Templates

Download our free compilation of 50+ Strategy & Transformation slides and templates. Frameworks include McKinsey 7-S Strategy Model, Balanced Scorecard, Disruptive Innovation, BCG Experience Curve, and many more.