Disasters happen every day in many forms. Whether it’s a power outage, a ransomware attack, or a flooded facility, you can quickly lose access to essential systems. 

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to come up with a plan. 

You need to ensure that the most critical aspects of your manufacturing business continue running, even when the unexpected happens. The best way to do this is to develop a BCP—a business continuity plan. 

A BCP outlines procedures and guidelines to ensure critical components remain running for manufacturers during an outage or other emergency, keeping your company from chaos.

What is a business continuity plan in manufacturing, why does it matter, and how can you create one? 

In this article, we discuss a manufacturer’s specific challenges and how you can address those challenges with business continuity planning.

What is BCP in manufacturing?

In any industry, a business continuity plan is a strategy for keeping essential operations running during an outage or crisis.

For manufacturing firms, specific procedures are critical to maintaining, at all costs, making disaster recovery a must. 

Automated equipment, for example, is vulnerable to outages and attacks, yet production can quickly stagnate if essential manufacturing equipment goes down. It’s crucial to minimize the lost production and revenue from such an incident, which is why developing a business continuity plan for the manufacturing industry is especially important. 

Challenges for the Manufacturing Industry

Manufacturing faces several unique challenges in the field of business continuity. 

For one, you have people at both ends of the supply chain who rely on you—raw goods suppliers and downstream customers. Your business continuity plan must consider keeping operations running on both ends of the supply chain.

Another big challenge relates to the global nature of manufacturing. 

If you have a factory in another country that goes down for a few days or even just a few hours, impacts can quickly spread quickly. The effect for you is lost revenue, a damaged brand reputation, and a higher cost of repairs.

To mitigate these challenges, you need a comprehensive business continuity plan that is designed to maintain essential business operations in the event of a disaster or outage with minimal downtime, decreased loss of revenue, and proper communication. 

What should be included in your business continuity plan 

To begin with, you need a plan in place for vendor substitution.

Sometimes, you might not be the one with the outage in a disaster situation. Instead, it might be a raw goods supplier unable to make deliveries or a large buyer who can’t access their system and make purchases from your company. 

In both situations, you need a plan in place. Consider alternate vendors you might sell to or suppliers from which you could get the same raw goods.

An essential component of your business continuity plan is machine or data backups. 

Make sure you have options available for a facility outage or if a vital machine is hacked. How will you access these backups? How are they stored? 

Another thing to consider is how you’ll alert suppliers and customers to any issues you may encounter.

If you’re operating at reduced capacity, you should inform interested parties as soon as possible to avoid a backlog of orders or excess supply. Have a system in place for quickly alerting the people who need to know. This includes your employees as well.

Start building your BCP today for prevention tomorrow

What are some practical ways to develop an effective business continuity plan for the manufacturing industry? 

Here are a few next steps to help you get the ball rolling and create the most effective strategy for your business.

1. Conduct a risk assessment

First, you should consider the relative risk of various scenarios. 

The most obvious and costly possible incident is a hack or malware attack, but don’t forget to consider other possibilities! Storms, flooding, power outages, and natural disasters can all take a costly toll on the unprepared business. 

Consider which risks are most likely for your specific business model and which incidents would be the most expensive. 

2. Build a team

You should clearly outline in your manufacturing BCP which employees are responsible for what parts of your response. 

You should also ensure that new employees understand their role in business continuity. This minimizes confusion and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

3. List necessary protocols

Decide on the protocols employees should follow in the case of an outage. 

You may want to consult with an outside agency with expertise in this area, as they can advise you on the best procedures based on your scenarios. 

Ensure all employees have access to the protocols and understand what they should do in an emergency.

4. Deployments

What backups will you deploy in case of an incident? What’s the time frame? 

Make sure you include concrete steps for business continuity deployments rather than a vague summary. You should also ensure that you have a team trained in executing deployments effectively.

5. Evaluate 

Your BCP shouldn’t be a one-and-done procedure.

Include a timeline for reevaluating the plan in light of company changes such as technology upgrades, employee turnover, or a new manufacturing facility.

As a manufacturing company, you need a plan to handle disaster before it occurs. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a significant loss through slowing production, developing an order backlog, and harming your overall reputation. 

Don’t let it happen to you; start creating a plan for concrete business continuity today. 

Your strategy should include important details like vendor alternatives, communication guidelines, and clearly outlined deployment protocols. With properly developed business continuity, you can avoid much of the fallout from an outage or disaster, maintain revenue, and keep your customers happy.

Are you a manufacturing company looking to develop a BCP? Are you looking for guidance and wondering where to start? 

Expedient Technology Solutions can help. We’ll work with you to create the most effective and tailored business continuity plan based on your specific objectives. 

Our experienced professionals have seen it all, so we can give you expert advice to help avoid lasting damage.

Give us a call or schedule an appointment today to start the conversation.