Business leaders call for summer production maintenance break to be brought forward during coronavirus crisis

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.

By Tim Gavell
Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 4:45 pm

The core issue is with facilities where production delivery requires colleagues to work side by side.

Experts say starting summer maintenance regimes now would help staff self-isolate and reduce the impact of unscheduled shutdowns and ensure plants can run at full capacity, when the pandemic subsides.

The call to act is being led by AIS Vanguard, which offers specialist services to manufacturing facilities, with equipment relocations, installations and maintenance support.

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Matt Ainscough, CEO from AIS Vanguard

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 and 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.

“Rather than struggling to keep production going, it makes sense to bring annual maintenance shutdowns forward or reduce production levels."

Matt Ainscough, chief executive 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 to coincide with an unscheduled closure or reduced output, and it makes perfect sense to do it now.”