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Be prepared: be winter ready

As we enter the winter months, Mark Hodgkinson of Xylem Water Solutions UK is calling on all businesses to be prepared and to ensure their business continuity plan is up to date.

When National Grid announced at the beginning of September that there would be a chance of blackouts this winter, I don’t believe many people would have taken much notice. For businesses, however, the threat is real and perhaps not just in the realms of the National Grid. 

In the last decade alone the UK has seen some of the worst flooding in recent memory, not forgetting the deluge of snow in 2010 and extreme weather in the subsequent years. While many of the headlines focused on the ideal conditions for sledging and traffic gridlock, the cost to businesses having to shut down operations was huge and yet not widely reported.

One significant factor to consider, however, is how preventable some of these business losses were. For those who can, working from home is ideal, as long as the systems are in place to make it happen. Other possibilities for longer term business security include shifting power infrastructure from flood-risk areas and relocating them from ground floors of buildings to the top floor. While this won’t necessarily mean that employees can return to work immediately, or until flood waters subside, operations can be back up and running much more quickly. 

Another factor to consider is the supply of clean and potable water and its disposal. This may not be the first thing that comes to mind in extreme weather, but it’s essential to consider as part of a business continuity plan. This is particularly true for production and manufacturing facilities where pumping water and then the treatment of wastewater will all be via an electrically powered pump. These pumps, will of course automatically switch off or be turned off as the flood waters rise, or perhaps in the event of a blackout. Needless to say a company’s environmental commitments don’t end just because the power goes out. Planning for this eventuality and getting the necessary processes in place to mitigate against it is therefore key. 

Top tips from my own experience would be:

  1. Have the contact details of companies that can supply solutions on hand within the planner: Xylem offers plug and play dewatering packages on a long or short term rental package. From diesel generators and self-priming pumps through to emergency tankering, prepare for the worst and you’ll be ready whatever gets thrown at you.
  1. Understand your requirements: detail within the plan your energy requirements for critical aspects of your plant – if you’re not in the office during an outage, at least others will know what’s required and where.
  1. Carry out regular maintenance on any back-up equipment: If your business is lucky enough to have a permanent back-up supply and pumping solution in place, make sure you carry out regular maintenance. The last thing a business needs, in a power outage or flood, is for the back-up equipment to fail.
  1. Fail to plan, plan to fail: It may sound cheesy but the principle is never truer than within a business continuity plan. If you plan for the worst case scenario, you will always be prepared.
  1. Act fast and take charge: When it comes to the safety of your employees and/or a risk to the environment, simply don’t chance it. Take charge of the situation and make sure everyone knows what job it is they are to do and make sure contact information, for all involved, is detailed in the pack. 

Powes important to prepare for any eventuality in your business continuity plan.  Permanent, automated off-grid systems are ultimately the answer to a more resilient and efficient energy infrastructure but equally there are temporary rental solutions available to help businesses navigate through tough times. Being prepared is key and there is no better time to prepare than now.


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14 October 2014


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