Call to bring factory shutdowns forward to tackle virus impact on manufacturing
With many manufacturers struggling to implement social distancing guidance without severely impacting operations, industry experts are calling for annual maintenance shut down periods to be brought forward to limit the impact of reduced outputs.
The core issue is with facilities where production delivery requires colleagues to work side by side for long periods.
While some sectors, such as food production and medical equipment, are working harder than ever to maintain vital supplies, many of the UK’s manufacturing facilities are struggling to remain open amidst Government safety advice.
Jaguar Land Rover is just one of the big names that has already shut down its UK plants, with others expected to do the same.
With production ceasing, experts are advising that Summer maintenance regimes should be implemented early to reduce the impact of unscheduled shutdowns and ensure plants can run at full capacity, with no interruptions, following the pandemic.
The call to act is being led by Standish-based AIS Vanguard, which offers specialist services to manufacturing facilities, with equipment relocations, installations and maintenance support.
Stephen Edge, group engineering director, said: “Many manufacturers operate with annual shutdowns, which allows them to execute corrective and planned maintenance needing major outages in a controlled way.
“They do this as good management and to allow machinery to be out of service while not greatly impacting the supply chain. However, we’re in an unparalleled period of disruption and manufacturers are reacting to this to reduce the commercial impact of the pandemic.
“It makes sense to consider bringing outages forward where they can, and we would expect that this is already being scheduled to make use of any reduced production periods they may currently be facing.
“In this way, manufacturers will put major outages behind them when the Covid-19 outbreak has subsided and they need their machinery to run.”
The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is supporting the initiative.
Chris Fletcher, policy, Campaigns & communications director, said: “At a time of huge upheaval in this unprecedented crisis many businesses will be looking for and having to adopt brand new ways of working and the idea of expediting the shutdown to allow this work to be done now so that once we are out of it we can literally hit the ground running makes absolute sense.”
“There are obviously still health issues to consider but the idea, if it can be delivered, is exactly the right type of response looking forward to when the crisis has passed. It is vital that once we can we all get behind the economy to get the country going again.”
He added: “Rather than struggling to keep production going, it makes sense to bring annual maintenance shutdowns forward or reduce production levels so that they be carried out on a phased basis during these challenging times.
“In this way, companies will be able to manufacture efficiently at full capacity when the Covid-19 outbreak has subsided.”
Matt Ainscough, chief executive of AIS Vanguard, said: “We are usually extremely busy in July and August as all manufacturers plan their annual maintenance shutdowns for the holiday period.
“We’ve already had many customers bring their maintenance period forward