Knowledge management best practices reduce costs and improve safety

Knowledge management has emerged as one of the most important tenets of 21st-century business management. Modern information technology has revolutionized our ability to transmit knowledge, and businesses have discovered they can dramatically improve business operations and their bottom lines by thoughtfully managing important operational knowledge. You can define it using a lot of jargon, but knowledge management really just means knowledge sharing, or in practical terms, making sure all employees have the knowledge they need to do their jobs as safely and efficiently as possible. It sounds pretty simple, but the scale of the task and the complexity of the knowledge to be shared have made real knowledge management an impossibility until information technology matured sufficiently to allow for seamless corporate global networks.

Chevron case study

Chevron began developing its knowledge management program in the mid-1990s and started seeing payback on some of its initiatives almost immediately. Operational savings were noticeable quickly, and by the time a broad set of energy-efficiency, inventory, and labor-rationalization best practices had been implemented worldwide seven years later, operational costs had been reduced by $2 billion per year— from around $9.4 billion in 1995 to around $7.4 billion in 2002. Executives at Chevron decided the best way to develop a knowledge management system was to inculcate an enterprise-wide “learning culture” where everyone sought to develop best practices and to establish an effective system to disseminate these best practices throughout the company. A major part of creating a learning culture was appointing seven “process masters.” These experts support Best Practice Teams working on the major, high-cost functions common to all Chevron refineries and bring all of the teams’ knowledge together to create a living best-practices document. A learning culture, however, means more than developing a single set of standard operating procedures.  It also means constantly seeking new and better ways to do things. By the same token, shared knowledge is the lifeblood of process innovation because the more widely known is shared, the greater the chance for fruitful insight and product innovation.

Instrumentation and inventory best practice

One important aspect of knowledge management is thoroughly understanding and establishing best practices. Best practices have already been established as part of the knowledge management process in areas such as accounting, purchasing, and human resources, but a few areas, like instrumentation and inventory, slip through the cracks in many enterprises. WIKA’s FAST team can help you fine-tune your knowledge management processes with a thorough review of your gauges and other instruments. We can also assist you with a thoughtful rationalization of your inventory management system to meet industry best practices. Our engineers are instrumentation experts who have performed hundreds of instrument audits at manufacturing and refining facilities, and we work with your operations and knowledge management teams to establish a comprehensive set of instrument and inventory best practices.

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