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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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Q: When can you expect payback on changes that you institute to become more efficient?

Green: At what point does the efficiency start to pay for itself? Well, the nice thing about a private company is that you don’t have to be looking at next quarter. We looked at a 5- and a 10-year plan. You tend to do things out a year or two. But we said, "What could we hit in looking down the road five years?"-and then we built a facility that would take us five plus. We were fortunate in that we got into the construction cycle and beat the high costs of that, so our payout was much quicker.

And we did some other things. For instance, we set up the building as an LLC, a separate tax entity, so we get some benefits from the way we handle the real estate. Our core company is Ferrari Color, and our real-estate company is Underhill Properties.

Q: Any specific things in your designs or facilities that you feel work exceptionally well?

Green: Here’s a funny one-one set of bathrooms. That is, no corporate/executive restrooms separate from the production-facility restrooms. The idea being that everyone is on the same team, which fits with our culture. Same with the lunchroom. And no doors between production and sales, nor between production and management. It’s all open.

Smith: An off-the-wall solution we have is in the main conference room in our design studio. The conference table itself is a high-end purple ping pong table. We have a 10-foot projection screen with an Xbox 360, and a Wii, where they’re playing tennis matches on the wall. There’s a basketball hoop that retracts in the printing area. We have normal vending machines, but we also have one that no one else can see that has beer and energy drinks in it. So when our guys get done, they can grab a beer.