This week Castle Water welcomes our expert partner in planned and emergency water services, Water Direct, as a guest contributor to our blog. Water Direct tell us about the importance of emergency water and why businesses sometimes require to call upon backup supplies, allowing critical services to stay in operation.
Protecting your business this winter
In recent years we’ve seen the extremes that winter can bring. Cold weather may not seem that much of a threat at first thought but looking into the potential consequences, it can have a severe effect on the day-to-day operations of your business.
Business continuity plans form a huge part of any business strategy and there are important elements to consider and measures to implement whatever the size of your company. Preparing for a variety of potential scenarios can keep your business up and running during the unexpected.
Consequences of cold weather
The Beast from the East last year is a prime example of how much impact cold weather can have. Thousands of schools closed, staff couldn’t get into work and some of the largest companies in the country were hit by significant dips in sales including John Lewis suffering a 5% drop. This extreme cold weather is said to have cost the UK economy £1 billion a day during the week of March 3rd 2018.
Whilst the Beast from the East was an extreme example, it highlights the importance of preparing your business for the impacts of cold weather.
Potential impact on your business
Winter is often a quieter time for businesses due to the usual seasonality of customer requirements so any potential business downtime, whatever the cause, can have a detrimental effect.
We spoke to a national sportswear manufacturer who told us they would lose £66,000 an hour if they experienced downtime. A significant financial impact which could be caused by any manner of scenarios.
One of the most common outages that businesses need to consider is an interruption to power supply and cold weather can increase the chances of an outage.
- Strong winds can cause falling objects such as trees to damage the power lines
- Additional usage of electrical items like heaters, increased use of kettles and built-in radiators can put strain on the internal power network and lead to an electrical system overload
- Cold weather can impact the power infrastructure itself, whilst more resilient when new, older systems can’t take the strain
As such an essential element to the running of most businesses, water is a key element to be considered in business continuity plans.
- Freezing or damaged pipes due to low temperatures can interrupt the water supply
- This can mean no drinking water for staff or supplies for welfare facilities such as toilets and kitchens
- Interruption can impact production or processes if they are water critical
Loss of access or key personnel
Accessing your site and having staff there to run it is often taken for granted, but cold, winter weather can impact such an essential need.
- Snow, ice or flooding preventing staff to travel or effecting physical access into site
- Congested motorways nearby can cut site off from entire areas, meaning customers can’t travel to you
- Severe weather could mean needing to let staff leave early to make it home safely, or increased sickness meaning less staff for longer periods of time
Disruption to Supply Chain
Indirect interruptions can also affect your business.
- Transport routes more likely to get blocked causing delay to shipments, impacting deliveries
- If a key supplier is unable to operate this can have a knock-on effect down the supply chain and could affect your own operations
Preparing your business to overcome cold weather effects
Having a business continuity plan prepares your business with an action plan for any potential scenario that could lead to a business interruption or downtime.
No matter what size of company or what your output is, knowing how to act during business downtime can minimise its impact.
All businesses should:
- Review what business continuity provisions are already in place for cold weather impact
- Conduct exercises to test these provisions and build the team’s confidence in responding to an incident
- Understand what business continuity provisions your suppliers have in place
- Know who else to contact if your usual suppliers experience an interruption which can have a knock-on effect
Smaller companies may not have a large budget to utilise on business continuity but that doesn’t mean that measures can’t still be put in place:
- Seek advice from a business continuity auditor who may be able to provide guidance on areas you could improve
- Look into what provisions you can put in place in-house
Protecting your water supply (sites with small water consumption)
- During the colder months, check your pipes regularly for leaks and insulate pipework where possible
- Understand how much water you use day-to-day
- At the bare minimum, stock a sufficient amount of bottled water to be used for drinking water and toilet flushing if your supply is interrupted
- Find out where your business boundary lines lie – if a burst or leak happens within your own area, it’s usually your responsibility to get it fixed
Larger businesses need to consider the implications of a business interruption and put in place sufficient measures:
- Regularly run exercises to test out your business continuity plan scenarios
- Increase any measures that prove to be insufficient or unsuccessful
Protecting your water supply (sites with larger water consumption)
- Where water is critical to your site, undertaking a site audit will help you understand usage, critical activity and potential mitigation measures for an interruption
- Enlisting an emergency water supply company to put a contingency plan in place can ensure you are equipped to bring in alternative water supplies when needed
- At the very minimum, understand who to contact in the event of an interruption
Castle Water’s professional network of specialist water services, such as Water Direct, means we can respond with the right expertise to meet the needs of our customers. When sudden water supply outages see sensitive customers in need of vital water supplies, Castle Water is ready to deliver for our customers.
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