You have the manufacturing equipment you need to make the parts your customers want. The fixtures and tooling required for good, efficient processes are in place. All seems good, until… there is a fire, a flood, an earthquake, an unexpected freeze (think semiconductor manufacturing in Austin in early 2021), or some other disruption to your operations. Manufacturing equipment is complicated. Often you cannot just power up and go. The machines may need to be cleaned, calibrated, and certified. Product-specific programs and settings may need to be retrieved. How well prepared are you to resume quality, productive operations using that equipment? Disaster recovery plans are designed to address this and more.
Such plans should include more than these machine-specific areas – human resources, quality, warehouse inventory, etc. COVID-19 has shown us the value of extending this beyond the factory walls to redundant supply chains – an area of renewed attention for many manufacturers. However, in this article, we will focus on aspects related to manufacturing equipment. While having effective emergency response procedures in place (such as how to safely evacuate people and ensuring the proper firefighting equipment if available and functioning) is critical, that will not be covered here.
The first step is to define the team and responsibilities so that the members can be prepared. Reacting to a disaster requires quick, decisive action, and confusion about who holds which duties will only slow that down. It is important to create a cross-functional team, including facilities and engineering members who are familiar with the manufacturing equipment.