It’s always a good time to check up on your facility’s safety — but now the stakes are even higher when it comes to safety violations.
Employers across the U.S. have been facing higher penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this year. In January 2021, the federal agency announced it was increasing the maximum penalty for serious and other than serious citations to $13,653 and the maximum for repeat and willful violations to $136,532.
Hurricane season is here, and will be with us for a few months to come. That means processing facilities and distribution warehouses should pay extra attention to tropical forecasts, especially if their operations are located near the coast. On this blog, we’ve previously discussed best practices for preparing for a hurricane, including in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
If your facility relies on ammonia refrigeration, however, preparing for a major storm is that much more important due to the potential for an ammonia release caused by weather damage. The most important thing is to establish a sound process safety management (PSM) program with standard operating procedures on how your facility prepares for a storm. You might be surprised at the number of plants that don’t have this outlined, especially smaller ones. Even if your system is under the 10,000-pound ammonia threshold, you should have a plan in place under the OSHA and EPA General Duty Clause. Ignoring these safety issues can be a lot more costly to address after the fact. It’s a good practice to prepare, prevent and execute a plan for emergencies.
Make to stock (MTS) is a traditional “build-ahead” production strategy in which manufacturing plans are based upon sales forecasts and/or historical demand. A company using this approach would estimate how many orders its products could generate, and then supply enough stock to meet those orders.
Make to order (MTO), on the other hand, is a production approach in which products are not made until a confirmed order is received. This typically allows consumers to purchase products customized to their specifications.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to improvise as the sudden shift to remote working disrupted “business as usual” for a lot of employees. At Stellar, we had emergency plans in place to allow for an easy shift to remote work — and it was so successful that the company adopted a full-time work-from-home model for the majority of its workforce.
With restrictions easing and vaccines more readily available, we’re slowly returning to some sense of normalcy. And while there are plenty of things we won’t miss about pandemic life, there are tools and strategies that flourished over the past year that yielded more efficient, predictable and accurate project results for our clients. Let’s look at a few that are here to stay:
Building anything right now can be daunting and expensive, much less a large industrial facility. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of construction materials has skyrocketed, labor is scarce and demand is surging. But that doesn’t mean the food supply chain can stop.
Food manufacturers and distributors still have customers to serve — and, for some, that still means investing in a new facility. At a time when construction costs are high, a company might make up for it in savings by reconsidering where the facility is built.
Facilities that support process operations produce some of the most expensive and complex buildings in the world. And they run the gamut: “Process operations” can range from baking desserts such as cakes to processing raw meat for grocery operations, to manufacturing parts and components for U.S. Navy submarines.
So what do facilities across such diverse markets have in common besides being founded on their process? For one, the costly and painful struggle of getting the project started. Many times, important early stages are executed out-of-order or even too late. Let’s look at four recommendations that may seem obvious, but if executed properly, will take some of the pain out of beginning your next process facility.
The Suez Canal blockage in March 2021 pointed out a major pinch point — for lack of a better term — within the global supply chain. One ship getting blown off course during a predictable sandstorm halted 12% of global trade — an estimated $9.6 billion per day. While the Ever Given was freed after six days, the ripple effects of the event will be felt for months due to the thousands of ships delayed in those six days.
Witnessing the magnitude of what a single ship mishap can do to interrupt global trade makes it obvious that safeguards need to be put in place to prevent such events in the future. If an accident put a stop to 12% of global trade, what kind of damage could an intentional act inflict?
For many manufacturers — especially in the food and beverage space — the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in new challenges and increased demand, all at the same time. This has many corporate leaders under the gun and pushing production to the max in order to keep their pipeline filled. To meet this demand, many are working overtime, plants are reluctant to shut any lines down and smaller maintenance jobs have dropped lower on the priority list.
But, none of that matters if you’re rushing in the wrong direction. Ignoring maintenance or only fixing things when they fail (a reactive approach), has long-term consequences. The continual deferment of maintenance will ultimately result in failure.
While this isn’t exactly unexpected, the COVID-19 pandemic has only sped up e-commerce trends that were already taking place. And that means distribution warehouses — and the workers and technology that power them — are in the spotlight.
This has more companies considering how to best capitalize on this demand, and automated robotics are taking the storage and distribution game to new heights — literally.