Getting up and running again: what you should consider

 Man with plan in company

Getting up and running again: what you should consider

Did the coronavirus force you to close down operations or withdraw to your home office? These tips will help you to get up and running again without any unwanted incidents.

Get an overall impression of your site

Carry out a tour of your business premises and inspect your buildings. Consider checking the following points:

  • Are there any signs of attempted burglary on the outside doors or windows?
  • Was anything vandalized in your absence? Do you see any broken windows or graffiti?
  • Has any water leaked in through open or damaged roof windows? Did any water pipes burst, or can you observe any water damage in the basement?
  • Is the inventory in external storage still complete or could something has been stolen?
  • If you have any solar panel on your roof: Are they still intact?
  • Are all video surveillance cameras in working order? Are the field of view, focus and sharpness settings as they should be? 
  • Is it necessary to clean indoor areas before you can get up and running again?
  • Is drinking water used in the building? Germs can form in stagnant tap water – Legionella can be especially dangerous. With this in mind, let the water run for a few minutes before using it again. Ideally, you should even do this twice a week during the business interruption. Germs can also be transmitted via humidifiers or air conditioning systems. If necessary, clarify with the manufacturer or repair companies whether you need to disinfect them or take other countermeasures.
 

Getting ready for start-up

Allow adequate time to get your infrastructure up and running again without damaging machines or systems.

  • To ensure that machinery is functioning properly, carry out and document routine inspections prior to re-commissioning: Are all seals still working? Are coolants still sufficiently mixed? Have the minimum filling quantities been reached?
  • Are all power cables and fuses working properly?
  • Do all petrol-driven vehicles have enough fuel and engine oil? Are their lights and braking systems working?
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions before putting machines back into operation. Certain procedures have to be followed to prevent any damage. Get a technician to help you if necessary. 
  • Ensure that the necessary operating temperature in oil, lubrication and water circuits has been reached before restarting production. 
  • Do you detect any unusual smells, noises, heat development or vibrations when putting machines back into operation? Interrupt the start-up process, shut down the system and ask a specialist to come and find the error.
  • In some situations, you must inform the authorities that you will require more water or electricity again or that larger quantities of wastewater will again be discharged for treatment.
 

When you start to produce again

After weeks of production downtime, you will probably want to catch up with production backlogs and recoup lost sales as quickly as possible. 

  • Would you like to run extra shifts? Take care of your employees: Abrupt changes, for example from short-time work to additional shifts, are physically and emotionally exhausting. Exhausted and overtired employees make more mistakes, are more likely to have accidents and may adhere to safety routines with less consistency. Make your managers aware of these dangers: make sure that you enforce breaks, stick to the prescribed working hours and watch out for signs of exhaustion or overwork.
  • When production capacity is greatly increased beyond normal levels, supply installations (power supply, compressors, boilers, etc.) can suffer, as can your machines. Therefore, consider servicing your machines on higher frequency than you usually do.
  • Think about whether your inspection schedule for these systems will be postponed by the interruption because there are fewer operating hours than planned or because the necessary experts are currently not available.
 

Prevention and fire protection

Do not forget about your usual preventive measures: an incident such as major loss or damage caused by fire would be fatal for your company right now.

  • Did you continue to check safety systems such as sprinklers and fire detection systems during the lock down? If the answer is no, then you should definitely make up for this: You should give sprinkler pumps with electric motors a test run of at least 10 minutes; diesel engines need to be run for at least 30 minutes.
  • Do you need to restock your inventory in indoor areas? Make sure that the functionality of your fire suppression and protection equipment is not affected by doing so. Avoid stacking stored goods between rows of shelves.
  • Did you have to switch to external storage? Ensure that potentially combustible goods are stored in sufficient distance to any buildings
  • Have your safety officer perform an inspection and document all changes. Resume all fire protection routines as soon as possible.
  • Adapt any external key and opening services that were suspended during the lockdown to normal opening hours; do the same for the automatic operation of roller and protective shutters. 
 

Capture any lessons learned

Take the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the past weeks together as a team:

  • What worked well? Is there any potential for improvement?
  • Were roles and responsibilities, including related processes, clearly defined? Were there any interface problems?
  • Document all learnings and work through them.
  • See if you and your employees have any ideas to improve processes. Now is a good opportunity to tackle existing problems with fresh eyes and, if necessary, find new solutions.

 

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