Ensure security for your vacant or idle plant
Idle facilities present special loss control and risk management challenges to both physical assets and business continuity. Large assets that can quickly lose value if not properly prepared and subject to periodic review/maintenance. Proper preparation made in advance can make reactivation less costly and reduce the timeline for bringing the facility back online.
These exposures overlap in many ways, especially with respect to effective means of reducing them. Actions to minimize the effects of severe weather are also beneficial with respect to lowering the rate of gradual deterioration and discouraging trespassing and malicious mischief.
It is important to understand that when facilities are idle, it is for a reason; under current conditions, the cost of operating is greater than the income generated. A change in economic conditions can change the balance of that equation. The purpose of the recommendations listed here is to preserve these assets for maximum long-term value, including maximizing flexibility for future use.
There is great pressure to minimize costs when shutting down a facility. However, except for obvious, ongoing security measures, spending a few dollars in preparation provides significant future return. Consider each of the following as part of the shut-down process:
Idle facilities are a cash drain; there are many incentives to minimize the costs associated with on-going care for them. These pressures need to be balanced with the potential loss of value if the facility is not maintained. If the site is fully prepared for the transition to an idle facility as described in the previous section then it should remain in relatively stable condition, unless there is an input that changes these conditions.
An idled facility can become an inviting target for unauthorized people. Once the property is idled, it is easy for outsiders to assume it has no value to the owner or community. Children can be drawn to the location as a place to explore. People who steal metals to sell to recyclers may see potential profit in the site.
The best way to combat these potential upsets to the idle property preservation are to demonstrate to the surrounding community that, by the way it is treated and maintained, the property still holds value. While all these maintenance efforts involve costs, the costs are minimized by keeping them in place rather than responding to incidents. Obvious maintenance activities are the best way to ensure protection to your assets.
Severe weather is usually not a surprise- it is predicted well in advance of its arrival. There are basic steps that can be taken prior to and after the onset of severe weather including inspecting the facility to ensure heating/heat tracing systems are in service, draining low points of dry pipe sprinkler systems, inspecting water piping to ensure it remains disconnected and drained, ensuring building openings are closed/sealed as appropriate, and ensuring roof drains are clear of fall leaves.
During freezing weather, consider increasing the frequency of site inspections and security patrols. After winter storms check the building envelope for openings and repair as needed and check the roof for unsafe accumulations or drifting of snow.
Repair any building envelope failures promptly after strong wind events. Prior to heavy rain storms, inspect the facility to ensure that the building envelope is secure and not leaking (especially the roof), check that roof drains are clear, and if flooding is predicted, resurrect the site’s flood plan and seal any doors/openings with sandbags and make provisions for emergency pumps as appropriate.
After rainstorms check the building envelope for openings and repair as needed, and pump standing water out of building and/or grounds as appropriate or necessary.
TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants (GRC) experts are on hand to assist you navigate the plant shutdown process, ensuring security for your assets and facilities while they are idle. With over 60 years of experience in fire protection engineering, natural hazards analysis, and property valuation, we partner with you during each step of the process.
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