The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is putting pressure on food and drink manufacturers across the industry. At this time, we know that it is critical that the focus of those businesses is on the health and safety of their staff, keeping supply chains moving, and ensuring products reach the shelves.

We appreciate that many capex projects will be on hold and any future planning will play second fiddle to keeping immediate production running – but once the crisis has eased and restrictions start to lift, leaders in those businesses will share a common challenge, making up on lost time. Once the decision has been taken to invest in a capital scheme the clock starts ticking, and there is huge pressure to deliver projects quickly.

In all likelihood, the ongoing crisis will mean that manufacturers will, at best, lose a quarter of the year on their future growth plans, with construction and site expansions taking a minimum three-month hiatus. Those in the process of planning or delivering capex projects will know that even just a few weeks’ pause on a construction project can have a significant impact on costs – let alone delaying a project for a whole quarter.

However, as the COVID-19 crisis beings to ease, and the industry shifts its gaze from the present to the future, manufacturers will be actively seeking strategies to get ‘back on track’. There will be a need for many to accelerate their construction and capex projects to put themselves in the best achievable position to make up as much lost time as possible.

Unlocking the puzzle of how to make up that time isn’t a straightforward process, and one that can only be delivered by experts with experience of working in the design and procurement of complex and live-food sites. However, when implemented correctly with forethought and understanding, it is possible to accelerate capital projects, reducing ‘start on site’ times by two to three months – which should go some way to bringing projects back on-track for completion.

Post COVID-19, food and drink manufacturers will still be faced with the same challenge of delivering construction projects on deadline, but with the added pressure of having lost months of time. At IFP Construction we understand the food and drink sector, with over 18 years of experience we know how to deliver an accelerated programme of construction, which might just be the silver bullet that manufacturers need, and can rely on, to put their future growth plans back on track.

Matt Sparrow – operations manager at IFP Construction