Protect your plants, trucks, equipment, and personnel from potential deadly storms

 

With so many active hurricanes facing our coastal Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico customers, we thought it might be a good time to put together some suggestions for securing your plant, trucks, equipment, and personnel for all our friends in the Heavy Building Materials industry.

Many of us at Command Alkon have worked in batch plants before moving into the software and technology field and the suggestions below are some things we remembered from our days in the field.  But most importantly, we would like to hear from you, the active ready mixed, precast, and aggregate producer. Let us and your colleagues in the industry know how you would and are preparing for disasters such as hurricanes and flooding.

A hurricane will impact my plant (and operation).  What do I need to do first?

  • First, and most importantly, you will want to secure your bins and silos so that they do not fall over causing damage to other parts of your plant. You will want to load all your Agg, Sand, Cement, and Fly Ash bins with material and make sure they’re HEAVY.
  • Second (for ready mixed operations), you will want to inspect your screw conveyors for any material such as dry cement. If storm water and the dry cement were to mix it will make for a tough job to clean.  To avoid this problem, make sure you empty your screws (before any potential storm threat).
  • Third, if you have loaders or other HEAVY moveable equipment you may want to tie chains to them, place them on either side of your plant, bins, or silos and anchor the chains to those structures for added stability.
  • Fourth, you will want move as many of your trucks to areas outside of the storm area if possible. If this is not an option, moving trucks to higher ground can mitigate any potential damage from flood waters to a truck’s engine and electronic equipment.  Also, keep in mind that that debris will be moving in the air during the storm.  Anything you could do to help prevent window damage to the truck would be helpful.  Something as low-tech as a heavy blanket secured around the cab of a truck can save windshields from smaller pieces of flying debris.
  • Fifth, you will want to secure any loose items on your plant. This includes doors, windows, and signs, anything that would have the potential to break loose and cause more damage to your plant, trucks, and bins.  Shut every single door.  Lock them with a deadbolt if available.  Shutter all your windows. Nailing up some plywood over your windows will lessen the chance of broken glass inside of your offices or batch plants.
  • Sixth, BACK-UP your data now! Don’t wait. If a category 4 or 5 hurricane impacts your plant, chances are high that you are going to have some damage to your structure with some loss to equipment inside. Those of you running single plants or non-networked plants will want to back up data to a PHYSICAL storage device such as a USB drive.  You will want your storage device to be portable so that you can keep it with you in a safe place, so that when the storm is over and you need to buy a new computer or batch system, at least you will have the latest data with which to work.
  • Seventh, move any computers or electronic equipment that may be housed beneath a desk on the floor to the top of the desk or even higher, if you are in a flood prone area. Best case scenario, if possible, would be to move any portable and critical electronic equipment to a safer location outside of the storm area or at least to some structure that may provide more security against high winds and flood waters.
  • Eighth, what about securing remote and portable plants? Don’t forget about your remote plants! Just because personnel aren’t’ there doesn’t mean you should neglect these structures.  Follow the same basic guidelines for your manned plants by filling bins and silos with material to make them heavy.  Also, if you’re running portable plants you can be more susceptible to damage from high winds.  If you’re running a small portable plant, just lowering the structure will help protect it. If it’s a semi-permanent plant such as a portable plant doing a highway job, you’ll want to follow the guidelines offered above for filling your bins and silos with material to make them heavier.
  • Ninth, be proactive with your office personnel. Make sure you have communicated plans for shutdown and when you hope to be back up and running. More than likely cell phone towers will be disabled for some time. Make sure to have land-line numbers for key personnel (if available) to communicate any critical information regarding the plant and their own safety.
  • Tenth, how are you communicating your disaster plans back to your customers? More than likely they won’t expect any deliveries right after a storm.  You will want to place any key updates on your website, call your customers whose jobs you were going to pour during and immediately after the storm and get as many land line phone numbers from them as possible. Communicate to them your probable re-open date and keep them updated!

 

Finally, take care of yourself! Make sure you have stocked up on the basics such as batteries, water, food, flashlights, portable radio, etc. Equipment can be replaced; you cannot!

For a more comprehensive list of emergency preparedness visit the Ready.gov site at: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

Stay safe. If there is anything we can help you with in regards to backing up any of your Command Alkon systems to physical drives, or even making sure your cloud backups are safe, just give us a call on our Hurricane Hotline at +1 (205) 879 3282 EXT. 2812.

And don’t forget to leave any comments below for your fellow producers on your best practices to secure your operation in advance of a hurricane or other damaging storm.

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