South Africa’s state power company Eskom created a consumer and business uproar this week when it implemented load shedding across the country, adding that the probability for further rolling blackouts remained high for the rest of the week.

Novus Holdings, a leading commercial printing and manufacturing company with plants across the country, has acted to ensure that business interruption is minimal due to the continued power outages.

“We have implemented a robust Risk Management system in line with international best practice with a well-developed Business Continuity Risk plan.  It identifies key risks facing the business and – with mitigation plans and strategies to address these risks.  We rate the probably of each scenario as either high or low, and then implement a plan for high risk scenarios. We have even extended the plan to suppliers,” says Anton Marx, Group SHEQ Manager at Novus Holdings, adding that its Risk Management System is ISO 31 000 accredited.

Novus Holdings, as a large-scale printing operation that prints some of the country’s most widely read newspapers and magazines, uses in excess of 2 000 000  kilowatts of electricity per week across the entire Group. Should the business not be able to print, it would stand to lose clients, as well as the trust of hundreds of thousands of consumers who rely on print media for their news and weekly retail specials.

The company invested millions of rands into its business continuity plans, which include mitigations for load shedding and today has more than 15 generators across the entire Group that keep the power on and the printing presses operational when power cuts happen. The business is also investigating alternative power supply sources, such as solar, and is constantly innovating if there is constrained supply of a resource. In 2017 it adopted large-scale water conservation efforts, which saw it reduce its water consumption.

Marx says that in terms of the business’s plan for load shedding, it has even gone so far as looking at suppliers – such as those who work on a 24-hour delivery basis, and how this impacts its various divisions.

“For example, we have had to look at what happens if an ink supplier can’t provide us with ink due to constant power outages, and come up with a plan for that,” says Marx. He adds that the Group has also looked at making sure its contingency plans don’t post any risks to local communities.

“The reality is that we can’t let load shedding determine what happens to our business. We are extremely reliant on power. So, we have had to look at what solutions we can implement to ease the burden of load shedding. We have had to also look at the cost of not implementing this plan, which would be much higher than the initial investment into becoming power secure, as we would have lost clients,” says Marx.

He says businesses who are faced with the prospect of losing business due to load shedding must look the opportunity in the problem, as load shedding has become an intermittent issue, and no viable solution has yet been presented to the SA public.

Marx adds that companies should constructively align their activities and decision-making with objectives and outcomes that help reach strategic goals.

“Risk management is no longer optional at Novus Holdings. It is a necessary consideration each time we make a decision – whether to develop a relationship, start a project or for routine work. It is required for good quality outcomes.

“Implementing a risk-based system in line with international standards for managing risks and quality has helped us look at risk as an essential tool in every part of the business, and plan for it. We are now much better prepared should the unexpected happen,” concludes Marx.