Make the most of your summer shutdown
The long held tradition of the factory fortnight is deeply ingrained in the manufacturing industry. However, many in the sector now question whether the annual practice is still relevant in the highly competitive modern world, where the assembly line often needs to operate 24/7. We believe that if you actively monitor your utilities usage the annual shutdown provides a great opportunity to reduce wastage and unearth hidden savings.
Factory fortnights date back to the 1950s when manufacturing plants required workers to stop production for two weeks each year, as part of an enforced shutdown. Having workers all take their holiday at the same time gave businesses the chance to repair machinery and protect against skills shortages at other times of the year.
These reasons are still valid and acted upon by many in the manufacturing industry today. Others, however, have put an end to the traditional summer shutdown, arguing against its place in the modern day.
It’s often necessary for steel, coke and chemical plants to operate 24/7. In fact, as so many manufacturers now opt out of the factory fortnight there has been a decline in the practice across Europe in recent years.
In contrast, the automotive industry can benefit from an annual shutdown on the assembly line. If too many workers are absent at one time this can cause issues with production. It’s therefore beneficial to hold an operation-wide closure that ensures staff all use their holiday entitlement at the same time. This protects against skills shortages during other times of the year, as it can be planned in advance and has the added benefit of enabling maintenance and repair on machinery.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Mike Hawes has explained, “Car production is traditionally subject to a degree of fluctuation during the quieter summer months with some manufacturers pausing production to invest in upgrades and prepare for new model launches, as well as to manage holiday leave”.
A fortnight of opportunities
The summer shutdown has another benefit which can often be overlooked – the chance to assess your energy and water usage and improve efficiency.
By monitoring your out of hours energy and water usage to identify base levels, you can see when and where your consumption peaks outside of operational hours. In particular, having insight into your water usage will allow you to easily identify any leaks if consumption is still high during the summer shutdown period.
Have you got the tools in place to track your energy and water consumption during shutdown? The right metering and monitoring technology can help you keep a close eye on utilities usage during factory fortnight. The Carbon Trust states that metering provides energy savings of 10%. For energy-intensive businesses, such as manufacturers, sub-metering can help identify areas of inefficiency to enable you to take action that can save a further 30% on your bills.
Once armed with your true energy and water consumption profile you can procure contracts that accurately reflect what you use, rather than what you think you use.
How Utilitywise can help
We’ve put together our Strategic Utility Management Plan for manufacturers to help businesses like yours make the most of their energy and water use. We encourage businesses to tackle their utility issues as a whole, to reduce inefficiencies, lower your bills and increase your competitiveness.
To find out more click here.
If you do one thing before clocking off for the factory fortnight this year, then take our advice – make a note of your meter readings. If you spot any anomalies on your return this could be a sign of undetected leaks or wastage. This five-minute task could well be the easiest way of making savings for your business this year.