Managing in a crisis is in our DNA

In this article we look at the way we have managed our own business continuity through the lens of how we manage an emergency.

The world has changed beyond all recognition. We have seen some businesses shut up shop overnight, while others remain, providing essential services to homes and businesses up and down the country. In this article we look at the way we have managed our own business continuity through the lens of how we manage an emergency.

A culture of resilience

While our 90-year heritage is built on fuel, we have emerged as the leading responder to environmental emergencies caused by a variety of factors. Our response capability means we are experts in navigating a crisis. We are routinely called upon to attend a wide variety of emergencies ranging from sewage leaks to tanker rollovers, and all the way through to major incident spills, such as high-volume breaches, which demand large scale protection and restoration of entire ecosystems be it on land or on water.

We have applied this knowledge to ensuring our own business resilience throughout the crisis, adapting to each new situation as it arises.

Take our resource allocation for example, putting the right people in the right place at the right time, whilst maintaining social distance. There are a lot of moving parts in this crisis and demand for different products and services is likely to flex over the next six months as different parts of the economy restart. That’s why whether it’s a small or large industrial accident or even national emergency we manage our resource to cope with demand.

When attending an incident on the ground, one of the key things we have learned is to listen to the local stakeholders to understand the situation and monitor for changes. This current crisis is no different; we are keeping regular contact with our customers to anticipate their demand. For example, when travel picks up again, we are ready to support airports and forecourts with their fuel infrastructure and maintenance requirements, ensuring they can return safely and efficiently to service when required.

But even now, while demand patterns are changing, it is a great time to get some of the basic PPM work done, so you are ready to get back to business when lockdown eases. Preparation is key.

No two jobs are the same

Responders must always be prepared for the unexpected and unknown. The many variables at play in a tanker rollover that is leaking the same substance as last time make for a unique set of circumstances in each situation. Every one of these variables must be factored in to get the job done as quickly, effectively and safely and as the last time.

Navigating an ever-changing landscape requires flexibility and an ability to be pragmatic. In an emergency there is one goal, to stop the spill and reduce the environmental risk. The means of delivering this outcome could be different every time.

Adjusted processes

Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, just as in an emergency response, we have adjusted our working practices to allow us to support our customers.

The way we have always operated is to look at a problem and work dynamically to find a solution and implement it safely while considering the commercial angle for the customer. We have worked pragmatically and dynamically with resourcing, hiring additional vehicles and reallocating assets, to ensuring teams can work safely.

For the majority of services we deliver, we have been identified as key workers and have adapted our operation to allow us to continue our great service. For example, colleagues travel in different vehicles to adhere to all government guidance on social distancing. We’ve built this into our resource strategy, meaning we know how many people and what time we need ahead of arriving on site. 

The adjustments we have made have been critical to us remaining operational throughout.

Resilient supply chain

But it’s not just your own business you need to consider in times of crisis. How reliable is your supply chain? You need a partner that delivers quality and is reliable. The adage ‘pay cheap, pay twice’ has critical importance today. It can be tempting to cut corners in such an uncertain time, but this often leads to longer term higher costs.

Right at the very start of this crisis we looked at our own supply chain for items such as PPE. By predicting what would be in high demand through the crisis we were able to ensure we had reliable equipment stocks throughout to ensure we could respond to any job.

Practicing resilience

Regular callout exercises with clients are conducted to test their protocols and practical deployment readiness, such as the ones we conduct with port and harbour associations to test their Oil Spill Contingency Plans, from strategy and resources, to public health and environmental concerns.

We have applied the same business resilience testing to our operation during the Coronavirus crisis to ensure we are able to continue to meet the demand of our customers.

Keeping Britain moving compliantly and safely

Throughout this crisis we have been instrumental in keeping petrol forecourts operational, keeping logistics running with fuel infrastructure as well as tank servicing and spill response for large national organisations. A resolution to an emergency cannot wait – it requires immediate attention - and that’s why resilience and agility is part and parcel of how we operate every day.

Conclusion

As we look to the next phase of this crisis and the gradual re-starting of the economy, to ensure business continuity you need a partner who has resilience in its DNA. We are here to support and guide our customers to ensure that the operational return after the crisis happens as smoothly as possible.