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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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One of the things we did right was contacting all the major manufacturers of hardware we were working with and having in-place agreements with them to move in and set up. That was key. We had three or four factory reps in there at one time, getting things running, so our customers wouldn’t notice that we were changing things.

Green: We made a decision when we made the move from our previous photographic business. We had previously shut down all our photo processing about six months to a year before moving into our new location-from a downtown location to an industrial location near the airport. But when we made the move, it was almost like we couldn’t quite pull the trigger. For instance, when we made the move, we built a single darkroom to do traditional enlargements, but we never put any equipment in there, so now it’s a storage room in a back hall. We didn’t go all the way.

Another thing was that we really liked an open area, and in retrospect we probably should have opened it up even more. We have some distinction between accounting and production, and now I think we may have wanted to move those closer.

Smith: Today, like Tom’s operation, just about every single thing in our shop has wheels-every table, every sewing machine, every Weldmaster, even our Scitex XL Jet. Everything has wheels, and it’s for a reason-we’re trying to accommodate what’s coming next, because you don’t really know. For instance, we will occasionally produce a banner that’s equivalent to approximately 60 percent of our workspace in that particular building. So tables turn to the side and they fit that way; the Weldmaster and sewing equipment slide that way, so we can open the banner for an hour and do what we need to do with it, then the equipment can be moved back.

Rieger: Another thing: When we moved, we moved to a facility that we calculated would cost us the same, considering the cost of the space and the repairs that have to go into it. In retrospect, I would move to a less-expensive facility because competition is even more brutal than it ever was. I would go a little bit farther out and suffer the loss of traffic that relates to physical location to gain that advantage.