If you’re planning a factory move, you could have a complicated and daunting journey ahead of you, and we know how you feel!
Flegg Projects have completed many manufacturing plant relocations across the UK, and internationally, so we’re familiar with the process, the common mistakes, and the fact that no two are ever the same.
Fortunately, we have some helpful steps for most people to include when designing a project plan for relocating a manufacturing facility.
Read on for a plant relocation checklist that should give you a head start.
Allow as much time as you can for planning. Constraints on time are typical, but the more time you have for planning and risk assessment, the more likely it is that your move will be successful. Planning is especially important if you need to maintain production during the move.
The sheer number of factors to consider can be overwhelming at first, so it can help to get them out of your head and into a project management tool as you go.
Every factory relocation project needs a team capable of managing and executing in a variety of disciplines. You may have already identified the need for people to design the new shop floor layout, contractors to build facilities and machinery movers to remove, transport, store and install your equipment. However, some forget the need to involve others such as Health & Safety, HR, and union reps.
It can help enormously to engage with your staff in the planning stages. A factory move can have dramatic effects on their lives and by involving them early, rather than merely telling them once plans are drawn up, it’s possible to nip in the bud any potential issues that their objections might cause for your move. Plus, they’re likely to know details that you can use to improve your planning.
Of course, there may be reasons why you wouldn’t want to engage staff during planning stages. In these circumstances, it can be equally helpful to remind your team to use their discretion when discussing early plans.
Be realistic about your capabilities. Get professional help in all areas where you don’t have in-house experience or capacity. You may well have reliable project managers who can plan your new assembly line, but has your HR department ever handled a factory relocation? Can your production schedule be maintained if your existing staff are employed to disconnect and package your machines?
You’ll probably find that it helps to make contact with contractors and advisors as early as you can, to benefit from their experience during planning stages.
The manufacturers of your equipment might also be helpful. Their knowledge could save you a lot of time and effort in the design of your new shop floor, and give you valuable advice about disconnecting, dismantling and re-installing your equipment.
Make sure you have accurate drawings of your current and intended factory. These drawings are likely to be essential tools for your team and your contractors, so it’s important to verify them by eye.
Things to check include:
The process of manually checking your drawings can also help to surface things you may have grown accustomed to that need to be moved to or replicated in your new location.
Check and document the condition of your equipment. You may be surprised to find that some aren’t in the state that you assumed, and it’s best to make decisions about relocating, refurbishing or abandoning well in advance of the move.
It helps all involved if each item to be moved has, or is given, a unique asset tag. Recording everything against that tag will help people to find the information they need, and to confirm that they’re working with the right machine. It may also help to apply duplicate asset tags to whatever you use to package each machine. These external tags will make it easy to track what’s leaving and make sure everything arrives where it should.
It can be helpful to take photos during the audit, to document the overall condition plus specifics such as connection points.
Some machines may require specific foundations, pits or trenches, so the details of these should also be noted.
Finally, make sure you have all of the manuals, maintenance records, spare parts and programming data for each machine.
Consider how your supply chain will be affected by the move. Even a perfectly executed relocation will involve changes to the way you supply and are supplied, but it’s also wise to expect problems.
How will you mitigate for issues that might affect the installation timeline, plus delays that new suppliers might cause?
As a minimum, it would help to be prepared financially for an unexpected cash flow deficit.
Plan a schedule that meets your goals, which often include the ability to maintain partial production at your existing site and start at your new one.
Few factory moves involve every piece of machinery leaving and arriving on the same day, and are more often staggered over periods of many months.
It’s possible to complete a large and complex factory move without downtime, and we know – because we’ve done it – that careful scheduling is vital.
Draft work instructions that explain how each piece of equipment needs to be disconnected, dismantled, cleaned, packaged, loaded, protected, transported, unloaded, reconnected and restarted. You may also need to draft similar guidance for how your site needs to be left once you’ve moved all your machines.
The activity of creating these work instructions can itself be beneficial because it helps to identify requirements. For example, do you need to commission customised packaging for your machines, or would wooden crates suffice?
Assign someone to the task of reviewing each installation to confirm that your machines are correctly seated, connected and mechanically sound before powering up.
During our many relocation projects, we’ve noted that a factory move is an excellent opportunity to design a more efficient shop floor layout, including the storage of materials and finished inventory.
You can also create future savings by planning well for insulation, heating, lighting and water use. Efficiency savings in these areas can be considerable over time.
Here’s your checklist to take away:
Every factory move has its unique challenges, but these activities have proven to be foundational for a successful relocation, whether you’re moving across the road or the channel.