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Plant Layout and The Bottom Line

(March 2008) posted on Thu Mar 06, 2008

Four shops discuss how to improve facility layout and workflow.

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As a result, today we have a very efficient layout. Everything is on wheels, for instance, except for the Rho-I don’t think there’s a wheel made that will hold that thing! All of the 16 worktables-4 x 8 and 5 x 10-have been custom fabricated by a steel fabricator and are all on wheels, and they’re all the same height, so we can quickly reconfigure things. For instance, if we have a giant banner to do, no problem-just put eight tables together, and so on. An hour later, it can be reconfigured to be feedout tables for the laminators or whatever the next task is. We can very easily reconfigure as the requirements change.

Q: Were there specific tricks you utilized in designing your space? And what are some "do-overs" that you would like to have?

Rieger: We took the architect’s plans and blew them up to about 4 x 8 feet, mounted these to Fome-Cor, slapped them on the wall, and did cutouts of all the little pieces of equipment. And we invited everyone in the shop to question our reasoning for where we put things.

But it’s the stinking little things that get you. For instance, one of the little things we did not carefully take into account was noise. If you move to an open floor plan, you have to address an increased noise level, and how you contain that. Another thing that stunned us is humidity. We live in the humidity capital of the world, even in the middle of winter. But from day one we wound up with sub-20-percent humidity levels in the building and I didn’t know why-how do you have that inside when you have 80-percent humidity outside? As it turned out, we had too much capacity in the A/C systems, and it was sucking it dry, but it took us over a year to figure that out.

As far as do-overs: We purchased a lot of duplicate equipment in anticipation of our move. We tested it, put it in storage, and then later moved that duplicate equipment in. I’m not sure that was necessary because it took almost as long as to get that new equipment up and running as it would have took to just move the existing stuff. That was probably a waste of money.