Decluttering and reorganizing a factory is nowhere near as easy as reorganizing an office or regular storeroom. Factories often include heavy machinery and wand scanners for paper works. Sometimes, these machines and the work processes they facilitate cover several hundred square feet of space. Even so, the day may come when you decide to upgrade your machines or decide your floor plan isn’t working as-is. When this happens, you need industrial-level expertise in re-organization and machinery installation.
Choose Your Partner
The company you work with can make all the difference in whether the process is a smooth one. An experienced and reliable company that hires qualified professionals ensures your equipment is moved with care and reinstalled correctly. Mishaps, when you remove and replace machinery, can completely stall operations.
Seasoned professionals also consider logistics and safety features that might otherwise escape a contractor’s attention. Finally, the partner(s) you choose dictates the services you have access to as you continue with your decluttering process.
Hire an Industrial Designer
At a factory, your floor plan involves so many moving parts that a regular commercial interior designer might not meet your needs. Instead, your chosen partner, an industrial architect or an engineer can help you better determine how to re-fit the pieces of your puzzle together. These professionals can also provide information on whether you need new equipment or if there are expansion opportunities.
Your new design plan should prioritize safety, productivity and efficiency. For example, if steps one and two of your production process involves moving heavy loads, it might be better to keep those two production lines close together.
Consider Upgrading Machines
Chances are there are a few pieces of machinery that could use some upgrading. This includes not just the factory floor but the office spaces. Can a few office desktops be replaced by tablets? Can you combine your scanner, printer, and fax copier into one machine? Are there machines on the production floor you could also replace with modern versions that take up less space and offer more functionality?
This might require combing through your financial documents and completing cash flow assessments. No matter how tempting an upgrade is, good business managers first weigh that decision against more immediate expenses that may occur. Timing can also make a difference when acquiring new equipment, especially if you have seasonal spikes and declines in operations.
Talk to Workers
Business managers often have grand ideas of how to restructure spaces that do not actually improve work processes. Workers might follow completely different steps to complete processes, especially if they have had to work around machine glitches and breakdowns. Observe workers and conduct short interviews to gather input.
Information from the bottom up helps ensure you make the right decisions. Employees will also appreciate that you considered their inputs and valued their suggestions. Job satisfaction and employee engagement will improve when workers’ conditions more closely match what they envision it should be like.
Review the Data
The more valuable data you have to inform your decision-making process, the better. If you employ machine learning and data analytics at your place of business, chances are that you have access to even more. This information might point to issues in the current workflow design. For instance, overuse of one machine might lead to constant breakdowns.
If you hired a professional to manage the design process, review this data with the professional and plan accordingly. He or she might have other solutions that save you money. For example, the machine may break down because it overheats and not necessarily because it is overused. Upgrading cooling equipment or moving it into a cooler location can help reduce these instances.
The sub-sector your business operates in may add special steps and considerations to your re-organizing process. There are federal laws that govern the industry as a whole. However, you might also need to meet state and local requirements. If you supply material or products to B2B clients, they also impose restrictions, requirements and preferences.
Your chosen partner should have the expertise necessary to help you navigate this minefield. If your industry or sector is especially complex, consider keeping an attorney on hand to advise you throughout the process.
Remember the Details
When reorganizing factory spaces, it is common for managers to become so focused on the bigger picture that they miss the details. Manufacturing workspaces still share many of the same functions with regular offices, so it is important to make room for these:
Do your employees have an area for breaks and lunches?
How safe and clean are your bathroom facilities?
Is there a quiet location for making phone calls or holding meetings?
How organized are your physical and electronic records, such as payroll?
Are there apps that can help you simplify your workspace?
Do you need better infrastructure to make remote work possible for eligible employees?
Revamping your factory is no small order. However, the opportunity to create a leaner business and more productive workforce is too important an investment to pass up.