Post-Pandemic Plant Reopening and Startup

Typically, plant shutdowns happen as standard practice for manufacturers. Although they require some effort, the benefits of regular shutdowns far outweigh the cons, ultimately ensuring longer uptime and increased efficiency for industrial plants when they are reopening. 

In March, the whole world shut down. 

Unexpected mandates caused manufacturers to halt their operations. With the health and safety of employees being a priority, there was no question that these shutdowns were necessary. That being said, it left a lot of uncertainty. Who, if anyone, would be able to work? How long of a shutdown would plants need to prepare for? If you and your team are getting things fired back up and ready for action, here are some questions you should be asking yourselves to ensure that your plant reopening goes smoothly.


1. How do I approach reopening safely? 

The first thing you need to keep in mind is safety. Ensure that any machines being worked on are depressurized, the correct tools are being used, and all necessary protective equipment is worn. With the pandemic, additional levels of safety need to be considered. Remaining distanced from co-workers to avoid physical contact and wearing masks is key. Many are taking temperatures upon building entry. Ensure you are aware of your plant’s COVID-19 specific precautions. 


2. What did my shutdown process look like?

The extent of your shutdown and regular maintenance over the course of the pandemic will determine how you approach your startup. Review your shutdown procedures with all involved in the startup to make sure everyone is on the same page. 


3. What environment was my equipment stored in? 

One of the biggest threats to equipment is moisture. It can cause rust, freezing, and many other issues. Check the temperature and humidity of the environment in which your equipment is stored. It can be the leading indicator of what to look for as you restart. 


4. What type of hardware do you have? 

There are different inspection lists and factors to take into consideration with each type of machinery. Make sure that as you reopen, you’re checking your equipment manufacturers for resources that are specific to your plant’s needs. You can also bring in specialists, like Brehob technicians, to ensure that all electrical equipment and compressors are inspected properly. 


5. What maintenance can be done now?

You know what they say: there’s no better time than now. Under warranty, there are guidelines for regular industrial maintenance procedures required for various types of equipment. This often includes services such as oil changes. If not regulated by a warranty, are there any preventative maintenance measures that need to be taken at this time? Any scheduled repairs? Take the time to consider any parts or pieces that need to be fixed or replaced, routinely or otherwise. 


6. Have I budgeted for reopening? 

You’ll need to budget for service, installation, and any other costs. You must also ensure that you budget for the time it will take to reopen. Brehob can help you gather estimates for the time and cost of reopening so you and your business are prepared.


7. Have I scheduled for reopening? 

With so many uncertainties, it can be difficult to schedule for reopening. But, if you know what that date will be, contact partners to gauge their availability, as well as get an idea of any new protocol they may have in place in light of COVID-19. You’ll also want to communicate with your employees to let them know what measures are being taken.


INSIDER TIP: Reopening after a long shutdown is a good time to discuss machine maintenance with your team, and refresh operator training. 


With some preparation and planning, your plant reopening will result in an efficient, safe, and fine-tuned operation as your business restarts.


Need some help planning your plant reopening? Brehob is here. Give us a call at (317) 231-8080 or send us a message today.