Think about the last time you moved into a new house or apartment. Does it ever go as planned? Packing and loading the truck may take longer than expected. The movers may tell you that the cost is higher than estimated. Your stuff may not arrive on schedule. Or it could even arrive damaged.
All of those same challenges exist when you relocate into a new industrial plant. The only difference is that with an industrial relocation, those challenges exist on a much larger scale. A mishap during an industrial move doesn’t result in a broken lamp or mirror. Rather, it could result in damaged equipment, which could jeopardize your production schedule.
There’s no margin for error in an industrial relocation. That’s why it’s so important to plan every aspect of the project, even down to the smallest detail. If you’ve never been through a relocation, though, it may be difficult to know where to start.
There’s so much involved in an industrial relocation that information related to the topic could fill an entire book. You have to coordinate with vendors, distributors, employees, and even governmental agencies. You have to work with utility companies and tech providers to make sure the facility is ready for occupancy.
There are any number of steps involved in planning a relocation. We can’t cover all those topics in one blog post. We can, though, cover perhaps the most important aspect — how to get all your parts, materials, and equipment from point A to point B in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
Below is a 6-step checklist to help you plan your relocation. You many need additional steps for your specific project, but these steps are usually applicable for everyone. If you haven’t made some of these items part of your planning process, you may want to do so before you start the relocation.
Step #1: Create a layout of the new facility.
First, draft a layout of the new facility that will serve as the map for the relocation process. Where do certain machines go? Where are you storing materials and inventory? How should shelving be installed in the facility?
The layout may go through several drafts and versions. Also, you could even drill down into detailed layouts of specific areas. For instance, you may have a layout of your warehouse areas to map out how materials should be stocked. Or you could have a layout of the assembly line to provide greater clarity on that area.
Your layout serves as the foundation for the rest of the relocation plan. Start here, and the rest of the plan will fall into place more easily.
Step #2: Review your equipment, parts, and materials.
The less you move, the faster and more efficient the process will be. Now is a great time to do an audit of all your equipment, parts, and materials and determine whether they should be relocated, refurbished, used, or scrapped.
Perhaps your have a piece of equipment that’s nearing the end of its useful life. Is it worth it to relocate the equipment? Or would you be better served by scrapping it and replacing with a new one?
What about the unused materials and parts in your warehouse? Are you going to use them? Is it worth the cost to move them? Or could you liquidate them to generate some cash and reduce the amount of items that need to be packaged?
Take some time to review your equipment and your inventory. You may be able to lighten the load for your relocation and make your facility leaner and more efficient.
Step #3: Develop a relocation and installation schedule.
You’ll likely want to limit the amount of downtime in your facility. That often means staggering the relocation process so you can keep some systems running in the old facility and start others as quickly as possible in the new.
Obviously, this will be different for every business. However, consider your production requirements and your core processes. Then create a schedule that allows you to stagger your relocation and minimize the disruption of the relocation.
Step #4: Design and build required packaging.
This is a step too few companies consider, especially those who are handling their relocation in-house. You may think you simply need boxes, either cardboard or wood.
However, that assumption could be wrong, and it could cause serious problems. How vulnerable are your equipment or parts to the elements? What would prolonged exposure to moisture or heat do to your products?
What happens if they’re exposed to vibration while in transit? Could your equipment be damaged if it hits the side of the container or if it bangs against another piece of machinery? If your equipment will be dismantled and packaged in pieces, do different pieces have different vulnerabilities?
This is where a partner who specializes in industrial packaging can be a valuable asset. They can analyze your needs and identify risks. They can then design and build containers and boxes that minimize those risks.
It may very well be that you mostly need wooden crates. However, all it takes is one piece of equipment packaged incorrectly to create a costly problem. Avoid that issue by working with a partner who is experienced in industrial relocations.
Step #5: Create work instructions for contractors.
Who will actually disassemble the equipment and package the parts, materials, and other items? Your in-house employees? Or contractors?
In either case, they’ll need clear instructions on exactly how and when each piece should be packaged and how it should be loaded. You don’t want them making their own decisions and judgment calls about how best to package your products and equipment. After all, you went to the trouble to develop a schedule and packaging plan. You want to make sure it’s implemented.
Create detailed work instructions for your crews of packagers. The instructions should be so specific that they answer virtually all questions about the packaging process. Again, if you work with a packaging partner, they should be able to create these plans for you.
Step #6: Log all parts, materials, and equipment.
Finally, before you start the actual work of packaging and relocation, you’ll want to somehow inventory all of your items that are moving to the new facility. This step is important because it gives you a mechanism to ensure quality on the receiving end.
If you don’t have a database or spreadsheet with all of your items listed, how could you possibly ensure that everything arrived? How can you know whether the item is in the same condition it was in when it was packaged? How do you know whether it was damaged while in transit?
The answer is you can’t know. That is, unless you have the technological capabilities to track each part and package through the relocation and view the entire process in real time. Again, you can leverage your relationship with an industrial packaging partner to gain access to this kind of technology.
An industrial packager will likely be able to barcode every item and package. Those items can then be scanned as they move through the relocation so you always know where they are. Also, the packager may use photo documentation technology to verify the condition of items at each stage. That way, you can catch damage as it happens and pinpoint exactly when and where the damage occurred.
You need transparency and verification to verify that the relocation was a success. Without the right technology in place, it’s impossible to measure performance.
As you can see from this checklist, an industrial plant relocation may be too big for you to handle in-house. Jobs this large also require a lot of communication and changes on the fly, which may prove to be taxing for your current staff.
Consider working with a partner who has experience with industrial relocations. They can develop your plan, offer predictable reporting and daily information flow, and oversee its implementation to ensure a successful relocation outcome.
Moving into a new facility can be a complex and challenging task. However, with the right plan and perhaps the right partner, you can make it a seamless and pain-free transition.