Unless you have been holed up in a bunker or living off the grid, you would already have felt the effects of load shedding. Like it or not, it looks like the problem is here to stay for a while. Businesses can help improve the situation by conserving power, using natural light and even using solar power. That is not enough, however. Businesses also need to safeguard themselves against load shedding.
Factor load shedding into your business continuity plan.
It's essential to integrate a power plan into one's business continuity plan or system. If you don't have a business continuity plan yet, don't worry; it's not too late to put one in place. Without power, your business grinds to a standstill, you lose productivity, you lose money - you'll even lose your hair and we don't want that. Since a lack of power affects so many other systems, you need to make load shedding a priority on your agenda.
If you don't plan ahead, you'll be caught in the dark.
We anticipated load shedding a year ago. After much research - and a steep learning curve - we put a system in place to counteract it. We purchased a 6500 VA generator and rigorously tested it, contacted our electrician to integrate it into our power circuits and then finally did live testing. Apart from the looks of sheer amazement that came over our staff's faces when we were able to get the backup plan in action within three minutes, we got looks of undisguised envy from the other companies in our office block who were left without power. Sadly, load shedding has become almost a daily occurrence and all the other offices around us can't operate when the power is down.
What can be done about load shedding?
In the short term, there is little that can be done about the serious problems that Eskom is having. We can voice our immense frustration and throw tantrums about the lack of foresight, lack of planning and sheer incompetence of our only electricity supplier, but that won't change much. What we can learn about this is that we need to have foresight, plan ahead and be pro-active about business continuity.
Here are some tips for surviving and fighting load shedding:
Work load shedding into your business continuity plan. Use a system that can work - even if mobile - to manage live disruptive events.
Remember to protect your devices when the power goes out. Use UPS and surge protection devices. When using backup power, switch on devices in stages and not all at once so as to avoid power spikes.
Ensure that your data is protected. Schedule your online backups to take place more often during the day. Power cuts are sometimes random and can happen without warning.
Think about how your staff can communicate. Phones require power so think about mobile phones. Provide alternate numbers you can be contacted on.
Consider access control, security and safety. Look at vulnerabilities created by the lights going off, like badly lit areas, ventilation, access control and security.
Know the schedule. Download the schedule and subscribe to automatic alerts here. (link to http://www.sharenet.co.za/loadshedding/). Work around the load shedding when possible.
Install backup power systems, like generators, battery powered items or solar power cells.
Test and maintain your backup power equipment often. The worst thing is for your backup generator to fail or run out of fuel.
Think green. Save electricity by switching off unneeded power drainers. Use alternate power sources. Think of energy-efficient buildings and practices.
Unfortunately, load shedding is here to stay for at least a while. Being prepared for power outages is not an option anymore. Create business continuity plans for load shedding, investigate green technology and promote a green culture in the workplace. Invite suggestions from staff and put these ideas into motion. Use this opportunity to work on your business continuity plans and to improve your efficiency. Our cloud-based business continuity software is almost ready - watch this space.