Successful companies are faced with significant challenges while moving up the growth curve. A plant rearrangement and/or relocation is often required to add capacity. It is a big undertaking to move everything and everybody while maintaining production. Here are three tips for a successful plant rearrangement:
Plan and communicate. A complete plant layout of the “new” plant is essential. Better to find out that there is not room for everything in AutoCAD than after the physical moves have begun. A Gantt chart to document move sequence and timing is equally essential. Again, it is better to have thought through the move sequence before getting painted into a corner. To obtain buy in, allow time in the planning process to socialize the new plant layout and timing plan. The more input, the better.
Identify risks. Effective project management mitigates risk. Besides moving equipment and people around, what else must happen for the plant rearrangement to be successful? Integrate these parallel actions into your Gantt chart. Is a key supplier’s JIT/JIS implementation aligned with the plant rearrangement timing plan? It won’t be unless that risk is actively managed.
Provide slack. A little slack in floor space, people, and time will minimize problems. Extra floor space will reduce the (inevitable?) probability of moving something twice. If new equipment is coming in, a staging area (whether in the plant or at a nearby warehouse) will be required. Overtime will be needed to build ahead before production cells are moved. Build some slack time into the Gantt chart to absorb delays and the otherwise unexpected. Bringing in an experienced project manager can provide the fractional leadership to pull everything together.
Managing projects, big and small, is a big part of my day job as a Professional Engineer. Visit my Project Management page for methods and case studies.