There is no such thing as PERFECT timing – so start your PREPARATION early, this PREVENTs POOR PLANNING. Starting just before the game isn’t going to see a winning PERFORMANCE. Allow time to work through potential issues; to analyse, and identify possible areas of risk; put new processes in place and to test your scheme.
Learn from previous experience. Look back and reference operational records to identify previous areas of weakness or bottlenecks. Then develop effective plans to deal with them. Also remember what went well, so that you can repeat what you are good at.
No plan has a solution that will cover every eventuality but start by addressing the basics and set out a response plan that will cover most eventualities. Double-check error tracking and be sure you establish a process that documents events such as equipment failures, unscheduled shutdowns and interruptions in your flow, as well as service levels and throughput.
Test the anticipated situations to simulate conditions during a peak season. Timing for this is key, keep it fresh in the workforce’s mind by running a test ideally four to six weeks prior to the influx start. One way to achieve this is by holding back up to half a normal day's throughput, and then send it all during a compressed three- to four-hour period to replicate peak volume and operating conditions. Such a trial run must itself be carefully planned and should only be attempted if the risk of breaking service levels is deemed as low.
Address and adjust maintenance cycles. Identify critical areas where you should increase maintenance intervals. Inspections and audits will focus needs on required equipment / components that could be subject to increased wear and tear at intense surge times.
5. Plan for an emergency
Your emergency response plan should Identify key equipment that will impact on your line the moment anything goes wrong be sure you have the expertise, partners, and parts necessary to handle issues and respond as quickly as possible.
Waiting for a supplier to send a replacement component overnight can cost time, money, and throughput. A peak season maintenance and response plan can help identify the spare parts you and your partners should have available to enable fast repairs.
IT support and clear processes for troubleshooting and problem escalation are essential. Review your IT response and escalation steps with internal and external resources. Clarify how, when and who to contact before peak season begins.
Having created the plan, be sure to communicate how it will roll out. You can’t expect it to work without buy in – it is vital your stakeholders understand it. The plan should be comprehensive enough to cover every element that peak season conditions can impact, as well as contain clear guidelines for dealing with any unanticipated issues that can arise.