What Manufacturers Procrastinate Most

Pamela Gordon Posted by Pamela Gordon, CEO, Technology Forecasters Inc..

Pamela J. Gordon is CEO of Technology Forecasters Inc., keynoter on profitable sustainability, and co-developer of ProductDesign21.


What Manufacturers Procrastinate Most

Sept. 2013 fire at EMS company Neways, resulting in an inoperable facility and EUR 10 million loss of materials

by Pamela J. Gordon

Perhaps tech manufacturers procrastinate creating detailed and actionable disaster-preparedness-and-recovery plans because they think that building collapses and fires happen only in lower-tech industries and developing countries — such as in the garment industry in Bangladesh. But the latest in a long series of disaster-disrupted EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Services) companies in developed nations was Germany-based Neways Electronics Production GmbH, where last month’s fire rendered the facility inoperable and destroyed materials valued at EUR 10 million. Fires, earthquakes, toxic spills, and severe weather incidents don’t discriminate based on industry categories or national boundaries.

Here’s a case study about a North American EMS developing a best-practice Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan in a timely manner.

A Case Study about Creating the Plan Promptly
AccuSpec Electronics is a growing electronics contract manufacturer in Erie, Pennsylvania. While certifying to AS 9100-C (the company was already certified to ISO 9001 and 13485), executives decided to broaden the company’s existing emergency-response plan into a strategic Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan.

The President and CEO Tim Morrissey said, “Even when faced with the unexpected — severe weather event, natural disaster, socio-political disruption, supply-chain shortage, or the like — we are still committed to delivering customers’ products on time, on quality, and on budget. To accomplish this, it’s necessary to have a best-practice Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan flexible to account for the unknown.”

Mr. Morrissey has long been a proponent of disaster preparedness, and did not procrastinate developing a first-class plan when he was recruited as AccuSpec’s chief executive. You see, he had been CEO at Southern-Calif.-based Senior Systems Technologies, and 11 years before he joined that EMS company the Northridge Earthquake devastated its single manufacturing location.

Where to Begin

Technology Forecasters audited AccuSpec’s operations to become fluent in the company’s existing practices and find opportunities for disaster preparation and swift recovery. We helped to form a Disaster Recovery Team, training its multifunctional members in best practices for business continuity following disruption.

Working with the Disaster Recovery Team, Tech Forecasters recommended detailed roles for before, during, and after a disruptive incident, creating decision trees and other tools for swift response.

Finally, we identified qualified synergistic “alliance manufacturers” should it be necessary to deploy an alternate site.

The Plan

We drafted the plan, obtained input from the executives and Disaster Recovery Team, then delivered the following:

– Strategies for reducing the chances of avoidable disasters and mitigating the effects of a wide range of supply-chain interruptions.

– Procedures for rapid recovery from disasters / emergencies to ensure that the company can continue to meet customers’ delivery windows.

– Additional strategic business benefits to help the company continue to grow, deliver high-quality product efficiently, adopt Lean and Green practices, and be exemplary to the industry.

– Completed, customized Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan, with built-in drills and updates.

Just Get Started! (perhaps with some help)

It’s not a painful exercise to customize a detailed and actionable disaster plan; with a bit of help it takes only a couple of months. Far more painful would be to just wait for the next disaster to strike.

Tell us, what has motivated your organization to stop procrastinating and to create a best-practice plan? Post a comment below.