Hard lessons from the Big Easy

First comes the storm. Then comes the media, and a second storm erupts. Then, when the water and the TV crews and the volunteers and the president have all receded, when the fingers stop being pointed and the bottled water has been passed out and the power comes back on and the jazz starts to play again, comes the rebuilding of New Orleans.

10/01/2005


First comes the storm. Then comes the media, and a second storm erupts. Then, when the water and the TV crews and the volunteers and the president have all receded, when the fingers stop being pointed and the bottled water has been passed out and the power comes back on and the jazz starts to play again, comes the rebuilding of New Orleans.

It will occur under the heat and humidity that is as much a part of the Big Easy as Bourbon Street, but it will happen largely out of the spotlight. The streets must be cleaned, the debris must be cleared and a newer New Orleans must rise in its place. The city must be put back to work, and ultimately, back to play.

For the hundreds of PLANT ENGINEERING subscribers in that region, they must go back to work as well. Many in our industry arrived on the scene right away with help for the region's manufacturers — donations of food, money and supplies, equipment to help them rebuild and get back on line, offers of long-term assistance to give them a chance to get back up to speed. Many others helped with the human condition in the hurricane region. That outpouring was heartfelt, and automatic. We looked for every way we could to help.

Even in a tough economic market for everyone, our industry found time to help one of their own in need. Whatever we manufacture — and we often manufacture competing products — we recognize the common things that bind us. We seek out knowledge from each other at trade events and seminars because we know that a strong manufacturing environment makes each individual company stronger.

So what did we learn from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath? A few simple truths:

  • Be prepared: We talk about predictive maintenance and preventive maintenance, but neither would have helped in this case. What would you do if a fire or a flood or a tornado rendered your plant inoperable? Do you have a disaster plan if the worst happens? Your relationship with distributors and OEMs will be tested on that day. Are they ready for you, and do you know what you need from them?

  • Safety first, operations second: Do you have a plan to account for your personnel? Can you get them to a safe place at a moment's notice? Do you practice that mobilization? And after a tragedy, can you find them, mobilize them and pay them?

  • Know your building blocks: Could you accurately rebuild your manufacturing facility from the ground up if you needed to? So often the component parts of facilities — and its electrical, mechanical, HVAC and compressed air systems — are pieced together over time. Could you put all those pieces back together if you needed to?

  • What do YOUR customers need from you in a crisis? As you look to your suppliers, your customers look to you. Are you ready to help them, even if you need to rebuild yourself? How do you mobilize and motivate the people in your organization to meet the challenges of staying in business?

    • When all the attention is gone, or we've moved along to the next tragedy, there will still be work at hand. There will still be employees and products. There will still be work to be done. You can get ready for that day today, and pray it never comes.

      The hardest lesson of Hurricane Katrina is that you cannot prepare for everything. You can, however, be prepared for what happens next.





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
2016 Product of the Year; Diagnose bearing failures; Asset performance management; Testing dust collector performance measures
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
What controller fits your application; Permanent magnet motors; Chemical manufacturer tames alarm management; Taking steps in a new direction
Tying a microgrid to the smart grid; Paralleling generator systems; Previewing NEC 2017 changes
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on preventing compressed air leaks and centrifugal air compressor basics and best practices for the "fifth utility" in manufacturing plants.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me