Finch Video: 5 Tips To Get Your Plant Back Up and Running With Richard Hoyle

Finch Consulting, Senior Consultant, Richard Hoyle, discusses his 5 top tips to help businesses where operations have been temporarily suspended or downscaled.

It goes without saying there are currently many issues affecting our lives and Finch Consulting have been thinking about those elements of the UK Industry who, for whatever reason, are in lockdown or under what could be considered to be extended unplanned outages. So I’d like to talk briefly about some of our thoughts before many production wheels begin to turn again.

Eventually we will come out of this and the main focus for many will be the new way of working with restrictions on physical distancing and logistics around our fellow workers. However, for some there may well be other factors we need to look at. Many will already be on top of all this, and it is not my intention to teach people how to suck eggs, but even if this assists a few or just one person then I’ll be happy.

To that end I have considered 5 tips for especially those where operations are temporarily suspended or downscaled. I’ll make reference to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations – PUWER, Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations – LOLER and Pressure Safety Systems Regulations – PSSR.

  • Review of machinery maintenance schedules – Do you need to revise the schedule priorities based on what is due or by identifying the weakest link in the production chain. It’s also a chance to analyse patterns of failures and breakdowns to focus effort in one area.
  • Redundancy – what is the plan if a machine will not start or has a fault that will not clear? Have you stored spares or if they need to be ordered what is the lead time?  It is also a good time to revisit the Standard operating procedures SOPs (pre-use checks and inspections) and safety considerations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and PUWER – Are your procedures fit for purpose?
  • If you are quiet in production or fully stopped, consider bringing any planned outages forwards in order to prevent production interruptions especially just as you are getting back to normal jogging. Seize this opportunity to revise the PPM schedules to coincide with the Statutory Inspections (LOLER and PSSR).
  • Statutory inspection providers/Competent person are continuing to conduct Through Inspections and HSE have issued clear guidance on there being no quarter for inspections to go beyond their statutory due date. This is an excellent time to look at the periodicities of such inspections, correspond those with maintenance schedules and make efficiencies where equipment needs to be stripped down for inspection or where during normal production access to parts can be awkward or impossible. Speak to your inspection providers, build and maintain that relationship whilst arranging the inspections so they are brought forwards where possible in order to suit your current situation and bringing skewed or out of phase dates back into alignment.  Simple things that will be easier to complete during a shut down like sending safety valves away for bench testing, NDT on boilers etc or bringing in cherry pickers to examine overhead cranes and tracks.  It may be that postponements on PSSR equipment may need to be considered but this requires planning with the competent person and notification given within a specific time frame to HSE with your intent to postpone.
  • Paperwork – Are you in control of your documentation? Are you HSE, UKCAS, ISO Audit ready?   Where are your declaration of conformity certificates for your machinery or plant? Do you know where your written schemes of examination are? You’d be surprised how many people don’t. When were they last reviewed and by whom?  Are they fit for purpose?  Is your COSHH and Environmental Management paperwork up to date and relevant? – Now is the time to get on top of that if you haven’t done so already.  In my opinion, Accidents are more likely to happen when people have been away for a while and launch straight back into work at full tilt so Risk assessments, emergency response procedures, training records/training plans etc are all key but often neglected even at the best of times.

So to summarise –

  • Review and prioritise the maintenance required to get going.
  • Plan for failure but also prevention – Check your SOPS
  • Review the PPMs and coincide where possible with Statutory inspections
  • Understand what is required of the Statutory inspections and capitalise on any downtime currently in place.
  • Get your paperwork squared away and ensure it is fit for purpose. Think worst case scenario – am I ready for a visit from HSE?

In essence, there are things that you can do to mitigate risk and prevent damage to machinery and ultimately the goal is to keep people safe. The temptation is to run up to full production quickly in order to steal a march on competitors, satisfy shareholders and customers – it is only natural. However, if failure of machinery occurs then the costs and downtime could be detrimental and put you weeks or months behind and if there is an incident then the last thing you want is an enforcement notice from HSE or injury to an employee in addition to any further economic challenges.

Obviously my 5 tips are not exhaustive, but hopefully this is of some help. Please continue to stay safe and Finch Consulting wishes everyone all the best for a hopeful and sunnier future.