Finding Your Ideal Commercial / Industrial Building - Part VI
Welcome back to the next part in our series!
Production Flow and its impact on site selection are discussed:
On-time and high quality orders are essential for profitable manufacturing; this requirement demands well-organized and planned production operations. Material inventory layout and equipment capacities are all analyzed to optimize the production processes. That said, we all know that changes and rush orders do occur, raw material deliveries get delayed and equipment does break down unexpectedly. All this creates real-time adjustments even when an operation has a good plan in place!
Lean, Six Sigma and 5S: Lean focuses on the 8 deadly sins of waste (defects, overproduction, transportation, waiting, inventory, motion, not utilizing talent, and over processing). Six Sigma on quality improvements by identifying and eliminating quality related issues / minimizing variances. 5S is a lean practice used to keep workspaces orderly and to also promote an internal business culture committed to maintaining that order.
Flow: Is Like a River…
Is there anything as peaceful as standing at the side of a river watching the water flow smoothly out of sight?
Or instead of this smooth flow of water, there are also rivers that have many rocks, falls and currents giving the river an incredibly dynamic feel.
Inventory and people also flow through your building. Depending on how well you have organized its layout they can proceed calmly or chaotically. Which scenario do you think is best for your company’s profitability, quality, customer service, and just general sanity? If you want another visual of wildly different accessibility, think about all your friends’ garages. Some are effectively empty, others so full you cannot walk from one end to the other without having to move something.
There are several different factors that contribute directly to a smooth flow through your facility and the more attention you pay to these when you are looking for a new building the easier (and cheaper) it is to ensure good flow.
Space / Square Footage
First and foremost is space. While it is undesirable to have significantly more space then needed (& ignoring the need for growth), having too little space is an absolute killer for the smooth flow of material & personnel. Material often ends up going anywhere there is any room (including in aisle ways) with little control or consideration given for efficiencies or the ability to locate it when needed.
Assuming the space you need is available, you also need to give consideration as to where you want to place that required inventory inside the building. For example, it is probably not a good idea to put your main stockroom on the opposite side of the building from the receiving docks. If you did, then all received materials would need to be moved from the docks down the full length of the building before they could be put away. This would both increase the time to receive material and create a lot of unnecessary traffic through the building, not to mention increased chance of (safety) mishaps along the way. There are two main and preferred general layouts for a production facility. The first is a U shaped flow pattern where the material is both received and shipped from one end of the building and the material moves through the building around the outer walls as it is processed though the various production steps. The second is a straight flow through where receiving is at one end of the building and shipping at the other. The material flows in, through the processes, and out of the building in a (more or less) straight line. A quick look at where the existing doors are located will tell you which style is most feasible.
Once the general layout is defined you then need to consider how to best organize where the equipment should be set up and how material would flow to, from, and around the machinery. This would include consideration of what order the machines are used and how any bulk material would be moved to the desired processing area. The initial layout is also of critical importance because the pain and expense involved in moving anything after the fact may be considerable. It is also important to consider how new machinery could be added to the area as the building grows or as technology changes (e.g.: addition of robots or automated control systems).
As you work your way through the design you should be considering all the principles of Lean Manufacturing. Simplistically, this boils down to the elimination of waste but you need to be very cognizant of the 8 deadly types of waste and how flow / layout will affect each of these types (especially waiting and waste motion).
While 5S is considered an integral tool of Lean Six Sigma it is worth mentioned this tool specifically. As you are designing the building and the various layouts you should be looking at the design with a “5S” eye and ensuring that organization, cleaning, and visual controls are built-in right from the start. As the old saying goes – Begin as you plan to continue. Trying to introduce 5S is much easier at the beginning than into an already functioning facility. If you need any help trying to understand this I recommend taking a weekend and trying to 5S your garage. This will give you a very clear idea of the issues involved.
While we could continue this conversation into a fairly large book, hopefully this gives you a feel for the types of issues that need to be thought about as you look at a new facility and how to optimize flow. Remember, an understanding of all the factors involved and preplanning of possible future requirements and options can help ensure fewer issues and lower costs in the long run as your business grows and prospers.
Working with professionals to help you address these issues and possibilities will make your life far less stressful as time goes by. Give us a call and let us help you help yourself.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts!
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Edward Drennan, P.Eng. 30+ years Industrial / Commercial Experience
Your Trusted Partner in Real Estate
Ed White, CPIM CIRM CSCP CPF 6sigma – Jade Trillium Consulting
Making processes & organizations more effective
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