The supply of cleaning products such as soaps, hand sanitisers and detergents is important in normal times, however access to them had become vital during the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Zealanders are fortunate to have locally based processors of the raw ingredients for these products right on our doorstep such as Tauranga organisation; Lawter.

Operating in 20 countries with 11 manufacturing and technology centres, Lawter specialises in extracting and processing the raw ingredients for these, and many other products, from pine trees.

The company’s Mount Maunganui facility processes pine chemicals for cleaning products as well as adhesives and printing inks.

This capability led the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to quickly designate Lawter as an essential business, enabling the company to continue producing vital products throughout Alert Level 4.

Lawter produces ingredients used in the manufacture of a huge range of everyday products:

Pine oil is widely used in the production of disinfectants like Dettol, Fennosize is used in the manufacturing process of packaging for liquid food products like milk and yoghurt, TOFA and DTO are part of the manufacturing process of soaps and cleaners, Pinerez and Snowtack are used in adhesives for food packaging and labelling.

To keep operating the Bay of Plenty facility during the Covid-19 outbreak, Lawter was required to develop and document a robust plan for employee and contractor safety and well-being. MBIE audited the site and commended Lawter’s implementation of the plan allowing the business to continue to operate under Covid-19 Alert Level 4.

Non-essential work had to be deferred, which included the planned preventative maintenance of the two Eaton UPS systems that support the factory controls and IT systems.

Rapid Response

The UPS setup is capable of ensuring the smooth, uninterrupted operation of the plant, irrespective of what the mains power is doing, however all UPS systems have consumable components that require replacement to ensure ongoing performance.

Unfortunately, one of the UPS systems experienced a component failure during lockdown, requiring immediate attention to safeguard the production of vital ingredients.

“We delayed our annual UPS service due to Covid-19 as there was initially uncertainty around whether we could bring a UPS Power Solutions engineer to site during Alert Level 4. The delay proved too long between services on this occasion. Thankfully, UPS Power Solutions has installed a UPS bypass switch that allowed us to continue plant operation without suffering an outage,” says Lawter process automation engineer, David Pugh.

After a risk assessment determined that the repair work was critical, arrangements were made for UPS Power Solution’s Senior engineer, Sam Lingman to travel from to the Mount Maunganui site from Auckland to conduct the required maintenance. This required Lingman to adhere to UPS Power Solutions’ Covid-19 health and safety processes and to be inducted into the Lawter Covid-19 best practices.

UPS Power Solutions extensive investment in spare parts meant that all the parts required for maintenance were available, allowing Lingman to repair the UPS unit in a single visit and restore backup power to the plant’s operations.

This is a great example of essential businesses working together to ensure that New Zealand continues to operate.

Lawter and UPS Power Solutions used a carefully considered strategy to accomplish necessary work safely and prevent the spread of Covid-19 while still achieving a positive outcome.

“UPS Power Solutions provided the right skills and advice on the day we made the call for help. We didn’t know the cause of failure, so we worked with UPS Power Solutions to determine what could be faulty, and together put together a plan for their visit. UPS Power Solutions brought to site spare parts, and even a spare UPS just in case,” Says Pugh.

At UPS Power Solutions, we recognise our part to play in keeping essential business operating even in lockdown.

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