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Managing Your Plant During a Crisis: 5 Tips

plant management

When it comes to the manufacturing sector, and many others, proper crisis management can make the difference between extended and expensive disruption, and bouncing back quickly to resume operations. The worst-case scenario in regard to crises? Failure. It’s not a light topic. This affects not only the livelihood of your hard-working employees, but also the financial well-being of your stakeholders. 

Crises can come in many different shapes and sizes—natural disasters, power outages, cyberattacks, and of course, global pandemics. No one likes to think that these kinds of things can happen to them, but as COVID-19 has clearly shown us, it can happen to anyone—and possibly everyone. You need a plan of action. 

Are You Prepared?

When a crisis strikes, regardless of the kind, it really tests the employees and the leadership skill of your management. There’s a fine line to walk when it comes to decision making. If immediate decisions are made too quickly, without the right information, you’re just creating more problems for yourself. On the other hand, waiting too long to make important decisions can have similarly negative effects. No action at all can be just as costly as the wrong action. 

It’s critical for your facility that you have a detailed plan in place, to lessen the disorder and the chaos that comes with any emergency situation

#1: Have a Plan

This one’s pretty clear—you need to have some sort of protocol in place. It should be in written form and include specific objectives, like how to protect your workers and how to keep lines of communication open. A good recovery plan should have a multi-faceted list of clear actions that should be taken in the event of a crisis. 

If you want to be extra thorough, have different plans in place for different types of emergencies. After all, a crisis resulting from a cyberattack will look a lot different than one resulting from a virus. 

#2: Leave Room for Adaptation

First impressions of how you should handle a particular crisis can’t always be trusted. One of the most important things about crises is that they’re typically new territory—which means they can change on a dime, leaving your original plan less than helpful. Make sure you’re keeping up with new information as it comes to you. Don’t be afraid to amend your original plan. While having a detailed plan (or plans) is important and highly recommended, be ready to adjust your actions as well. 

#3: Communication is Key

In any crisis, especially those with the potential to impact your workers or the public in negative ways, be prepared to work with the media. You should have a competent and well-spoken point person already assigned to dealing with the media. They should be prepared to represent the company in these situations, to deliver consistent and clear messaging. 

Don’t forget about your suppliers and customers—don’t let them hear about your crisis from a second-hand source. Get ahead of things by communicating with them directly, and keep them updated regularly with information and your plans to set things right. 

#4: Keep Your Employees in the Loop

As mentioned above, communication should be a vital part of your recovery plan. Your employees deserve to be kept up-to-date on the situation, especially since it directly impacts them. Not only will this ensure that your business is running as smoothly as it can during the crisis, but it can also stop potential rumors and gossip getting out—things that could be shared publicly and scare or worry people unnecessarily. 

#5: Maintenance Disaster Recovery

Logistical issues and damage to your equipment as a direct result of an emergency situation will certainly put your plan to the test. The goal of any disaster recovery plan is to get your facility up and running again as soon as possible, without significantly denting your disaster recovery budget—if you have one, of course. 

For this, you’ll need a well-organized maintenance manager. Working with a big maintenance team is difficult with everything you already have going on, but there are tools and options out there for you. In situations like the ones we’ve been discussing, assigning work orders quickly, switching and reassigning priority tasks, communicating potential problems, and tracking what’s been done and what hasn’t are all crucial to making it through difficult times. 


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