If heating, cooling(HVAC) or hot water(DHW) to your facilities are disrupted, have you got a back-up plan?
What would be the operational, logistical, financial and legal financial or legal impact, if you weren’t prepared?
Having an HVAC and DHW contingency plan in place will ensure you can carry on business as normal, whether you’re a manufacturer producing hundreds of thousands of products an hour – reliant on process cooling plant or a care home providing much needed care – HVAC or process temperature control equipment is critical to your operation, occupants, customers, reputation and profits.
Follow these steps to protect your operation from HVAC downtime:
1. Estimate the true costs of unplanned downtime – don’t just review the cost of repairing equipment.
If your equipment is un-repairable or a part is not available immediately, you could run into days, weeks or even months of downtime. The severity of the cost will depend on your day to day business, so you need to understand this.
2. Research likely causes of disruption to your HVAC systems
Identifying potential causes to HVAC system failure such as extreme weather, power outage, vandalism, accidental damage or equipment failure and ranking them on probability will help you to further understand the level of risk to your business and provide you with scenarios to be prepared for.
3. Undertake a critical equipment audit and create an asset list
Understanding which equipment on site is business critical as well as the areas of your facility where HVAC or DHW cannot be compromised will ensure you have a focus when power or equipment fails you.
You’ll also need to address any current performance problems with your equipment and create an asset list so you have a reference point that your team can access when they need to fix or find a replacement. The list should include all manufacturers’ details and product serial numbers. You can enlist the help of equipment and service specialists who will be experts in this type of audit.
4. Survey your site to understand any logistical considerations
Your facilities may be in a listed building or have very limited access or restrictions, it’s important that your equipment partners and maintenance team are aware of any logistical issues which may complicate or delay any maintenance work or equipment replacement.
5. Create a plan for stand-by equipment
Now you know which equipment you can’t afford to be without when disruption hits, you need to know how you will go about avoiding downtime. You can do this is in a couple of ways, which may depend on how much time you can or can’t afford to lose when disaster strikes.
Firstly, you can purchase stand-by equipment, and have it sat on site, ready to be used immediately. This would mean that you would need to ensure it is well maintained, compliant and checked regularly.
Secondly, you can work with your specialist equipment provider to hire the exact equipment you need at a moments notice. A good temperature control equipment provider will have undertaken a survey of your site, keep an inventory of the critical equipment you need, ensure they keep stock of that equipment, deliver, install and commission it for you within agreed timescales.
Thirdly, you could keep hired equipment on your site and have your system adapted so it is ready to accept stand-by equipment at the drop of a hat – ensuring you have no downtime whatsoever.
Hiring as opposed to purchasing the equipment would save you from any additional maintenance on top of your primary equipment.
6. Prepare your site
Preparing connection points for power, water and ducts in advance, determining whether the current electrical provisions are adequate for any additional or new equipment such as a chiller or boiler and arranging for any site access permits will save you vital hours or days and ensure a speedy response when disaster strikes.
7. Assign responsibilities and an action plan
Ensure your team understand who is responsible for rolling out all aspects of your contingency plan and they have named contacts and details available of all suppliers involved in any breakdown or equipment replacement emergencies.
8. Review your contingency plan regularly
As your site or business changes, your contingency plan needs to be considered too. You can also conduct timed drills to identify areas for improvement and check that every party involved can fulfil their part to your brief. This may help improve your partnerships and identify any training gaps within your team.
9. Follow a regular chiller maintenance plan
As soon as you install and commission equipment on your site, you should be following a preventative maintenance plan which as well as covering the maintenance of your equipment, should also include system water analysis and any necessary treatment. With often hard water running through HVAC equipment, it’s essential that the whole system is well maintained, not just the equipment itself.
10. Keep an inventory of all parts needed for your equipment
If you carry out your own HVAC maintenance, you need to know where you can get spares from and the typical turnaround. If the parts are critical, it is worth keeping spares on site, so you can replace immediately.