Manufacturing Relocation

There are many types of manufacturing operations covering many different industries. Each operation requires it's own unique processes and when relocating will need to plan and execute the relocation accordingly.

Taking this into consideration even though many processes are different they still have many similar steps to follow on the way to an effective, cost efficient relocation.

We can break down the relocation into five major steps:

  • Operational Analysis
  • Finding the best possible site
  • Analyze what is required to be done and prepare a project plan
  • Execute the relocation
  • Maintain the value attained from the relocation

Making the right relocation or for that matter decisions to expand present manufacturing capability will reflect on how successful your business will be in the future. Making bad judgment calls or decisions during this phase can result in some significant set backs resulting in lost time and lost of revenue.

To reduce the chance of making bad decisions, they must be made based on good hard data from the beginning.

Operational Analysis
Before starting to look for a new site, conducting a feasibility study on the plant and operation processes would be a good way of attaining a snap shot of the present operational situation. From initial results derived from the study, aspects pertaining to better practices and or necessary updating of equipment may evolve. In so doing show were efficiencies in manufacture can be accomplished through initiating changes in operational setup while relocating or expanding manufacturing capability. An example may be ergonomics where better placement of equipment and accompanying change in operational system can affect a higher level of efficiency. Where perhaps two related operations have been historically housed adjacent to each other or perhaps in totally different locations, where one is feeding from the other. The operation may be better suited having both running directly from one to the other under one roof. Only a well-run feasibility study would provide the hard factual data from which aspects central to planning a new site will become evident.

In developing a feasibility study it is advisable to involve the businesses whole work force, as new or innovative practices may be brought to attention that could well provide significant savings for the business.

The main areas a feasibility study would focus on would relate to:

Current manufacturing flow, identify each process level individually and then link these into the total operation. Identify management and operator processes inherent to each level of manufacture with lead in and lead out integration to those processes.

With these details in hand establish modifications to improve processes, see where any waste or source of waste may be. Initially look for improvements that can be made with little or no cost, then look to more inclusive improvement modes.

Batch run processes can now be focused on, relative to improvement modes, operation and machinery set out.

Inventory adjustments in relation to batch runs and just in time component/material supply. These would compare to having found better operation processes that reduce waste both in time and product, providing operational savings and better inventory controls.

Ergonomic placement of machinery and equipment to provide a reduction in set up time for batch runs relating to re-tooling and loading of Materials.

Safe and well established work procedures when setting up batch runs both by operation management and equipment operators. These then facilitate set up inspections prior to commencement of run and the paperwork involved, both prior to and on completion of run.

At the end of Operational Analysis a working document is established listing needs and initiatives for relocation. It is at this time the business either attains the services of a manufacturing relocation project specialist or initiates an in-house relocation project team.

The Relocation Management Team
The make up of an in house team requires people who are capable decision makers, well organized, have the technical expertise required, communicate well both orally as well as written and above all are capable of performing the tasks required of them.

These people during the relocation project need to be available outside of business hours including perhaps weekends.

It is important to utilize their basic capabilities and traits, key to successfully fulfilling a given responsibility or task.

Ensure the project maintains a level of manageability by keeping team numbers down to key personnel. Provide each task with a time frame; maintain a checklist on tasks, cross each task off as it is accomplished. Conduct regular meetings where the members of team can assess progress of project and where problems can be addressed as a group.

As team leader do not assume tasks are completed as required, the regular meetings then will ensure an accurate positioning of project tasks completed and tasks to be completed. Meeting will then afford the best opportunity to provide guidance, and ensure the team will administrate their tasks.

Finding the New Site
Obviously by now there has already been some consideration as to a general cost structure for the relocation based on what funds are at hand and what funds can reasonably be expected to be raised.

Using this structure as a divining rod from which to base any initial decisions as to the acceptance or non-acceptance of a site, there are other aspects to consider.

Firstly what is more practical as far as a site for new facility to be housed in? A site that is already built with a level of infrastructure in place or a clean structure, just walls and roof ready to fit out. Otherwise a green fields site with municipal services available but with the whole housing structure and amenity set ups needing to be purpose built.

In either case consideration must be given to:

The local community, where the manufacturing facility is to be housed. Is there sufficient infrastructure and population to cater as a source of new employees, semi or fully skilled? Will the local council or state provide any advantages for setting up relocated facility in their area? How and what will regional utility providers do to assist a new facility to set up and begin operation in their area?

Supply chain aspects. How close to major arterial transport services or routes will the manufacturing facility be located? How close to major component/material suppliers, and or major transport centers (cities/ports) for finished product will manufacture facility be located?

If Green fields facility is the best option then, when finding a site one needs to consider:

Zoning and council building approval processes, especially their particular policy's and structure of submission processes together with duration of approval and or appeal decisions. (Lawyer or local Architect/builder would be able to assist in these areas)

Attain an environmental impact report on site. This provides an insight into the lands prior use. Perhaps previously it was a harvesting farm or part of a Defense force munitions testing range. Both perhaps leaving behind toxic by products just under the turf. Obviously though site may be very reasonable to purchase would prove very expensive to prepare prior to building.

Whilst assessing due diligence of site, Lands and survey records will establish if there is any right of way through property. The Department of Mining can assist if there are any tunnels or workings previously commissioned under the property. Establishing title of the land would also indicate if any financial lean or ownership was still attached to the land.

Present or future neighboring facilities, it is important to find out what other facilities are presently close to or proposed to open near prospective green fields site. This can usually be found through the council planning department. You will find out what other industries are favored to establish close to your site. For example if you were a food manufacturing business, having a tallow plant next door, the odors of tallow processing could well taint your product.

Ensure infrastructure is in place for linking up to utilities both inbound and outbound. Main utilities being Water, Electricity/ Communication, Gas and waste both liquid and semi solid.

If a pre-existing structure is best the option when finding a site one also needs to consider:

If pre-existing structure has a clean bill of health, in as far as there are no hazards on site like asbestos, or toxic/dangerous materials having been dumped and covered up there.

A complete plan of structure all wiring and plumbing including what is concealed within concrete slab floor if in place.

Through due diligence any financial lean on land or buildings will become apparent, as will through Lands and Survey what land was used for previously and built upon.

If any remaining usable plant (i.e. Fans, air conditioning) all should be in operational condition.

Once a decision has been made as to the needs for the new location and an appropriate geographical survey has been completed giving a view of best areas to relocate i.e. Post codes of suitable areas, then enquires to find an appropriate site pre-existing or Greenfield can be made through utilizing Relocateme service directory under Commercial Industrial Real-estate.

Once all due diligence reports have been received and decision has been reached on the new location, Deeds of ownership or lease has been signed. A prospective forward commencement date is then set; a plan for the actual relocation must now be worked out and approved.

Establishing a Relocation Project
A report and plan of relocation can now be compiled utilizing both plans of the new site together with working document arrived at the end of businesses plants operational analysis. These together with an organized relocation team will administer the relocation.

From here the need is to break down present operation, work out which items are now superfluous and those which needs to be relocated based on report covering improvement of processing operations at new site. This would cover equipment, plant, tools, racking and other ancillary requirements for manufacturing, packaging etc. Once this is accomplished items can be tagged for transfer, storage or removal. At this time ordering of any new items for upgraded manufacturing operation needs to be considered for a timely shipment to new site.

This process would be in conjunction with any plant, or separate branch, (sales) or head office to be incorporated in new location. See office relocation discussion paper. To assist in relocation project planning you can find a Gantt table ‘application' in the Relocateme Toolkit

Plant fit out / Architectural & Engineering
Whichever site is chosen, either pre-existing or Greenfield there will be the need to have manufacturing floor and workers amenities structurally planed drafted and fitted out ready to accept relocated plant and equipment, in many cases together with office space. Both will require a unique work environment to provide for operational, office and executive staff. To accomplish this requires the services of Architect/s, Engineers and fit out specialists and trades.

The base for an architect and engineers to formulate and then render an appropriate plan draws largely on the results of initial Analysis and results towards upgrading present operations, together perhaps to a lesser degree on any changes to company's corporate look (New updated branding) and preferred colours fabrics etc which either a commercial interior designer or relocation team have provided.

Architects and engineers who specialize in relocating or setting up manufacturing operations, as well as multiple building trade, plant/office fit out vendors can be found in the Relocateme Service Directory.

A relocation can be fraught with complications, as much as one can implement as many checks on safety and instill a sense of Occupational Health and safety to all staff and executive, there will undoubtedly be some slip ups occasioning minor or high costs.

Due to any unfortunate occurrences happening an appropriate cover of businesses insurance must be looked into. In some so-called universal and public insurance coverage policies presently in place for plant, staff and visitors, these may well not be adequate to cover the relocation.

Equally it is essential that vendors assisting in relocation have there own adequate insurance both for accidental injury as well as damage.

If present company's insurances prove not adequate for the duration of the relocation and assuming the new location would require a survey by 'present insurer' (in due-cource). Perhaps then a temporary cover for relocation period may be a more cost effective answer. If present insurer cannot assist in this endeavor then access an insurer that can, through the Relocateme Service Directory.

Once the relocation project plan has been worked out it is necessary to contact all utility service providers to inform them of the relocation. In this way you can time when services at old site can be shut down and final period accounts paid as well as initiating new account being open for new site.

It is at this time you can re-negotiate with present Utility's or negotiate with new utilities (especially power and communication) for better rates and or service than experienced at old site. It is possible that due to the relocation more favorable aspects may play in your favor. You can find all the utility services in new location using the Relocateme Service Directory.

This is an interesting area as all stationary pertaining to old address will have to be either retired or an appropriate stick-over label with new address printed.

An opportunity is also afforded as you can now update or modernize the look of the businesses stationary perhaps following through to updating the look and branding of the business and it's products, occasioning more market share.

Designers, Marketing and stationary (printing) venders can be found in the Relocateme Service Directory.

Depending on the complexity of your move, there may well be more than one moving company contracted for the relocation.For instance, with large heavy items of plant requiring heavy lifting equipment, gaffers/riggers and appropriate transport. A specialist computer tech relocation moving company would specialize in large and small self-contained environment controlled computer centers complete with consoles and racked servers used to drive manufacturing plant equipment and office. Apart from the specialist movers to fulfill specific requirements, General commercial movers will provide the level of service required for a successful relocation.
A benchmark in general for movers to estimate a relocation is based on; number of personnel both staff and management, number of facility needed to me relocated the number and volume of items held in facility/s needed to be moved. As for offices and their accompanying workstations, filing stations, board and meeting rooms, again the number and volume of items to be relocated from these areas.

When all these facts have been ascertained inventory of items is taken, number of packing boxes estimated, time delegated for move ascertained, pick up and placement strategy for items moved is in place and mover has had the opportunity to do a walk through of both old and new locations he/she can then provide a comprehensive quote.

Depending on how one organizes the move some moves are worked in stages, dependent on work being done in the new location. From plant and staff amenities fit out, assemblage of offices and or workstations, fit out of copy rooms, mailrooms, kitchen, and board and meeting rooms. Each stage then affects what is moved and when it is moved. In this relocation senerio it would be important to have all the moving vendors participate both in relocation meetings as well as to interact with other vendors participating in move to ensure any prospective problems can be solved ahead of time saving both time and money. To assist in project planning move see Relocateme Toolkit where you can find a Gantt table format application, to assist in planning move.

The move plan should be kept as concise, simple as possible; the communication between venders, venders and relocation team must be open and effective, the communication between relocation team, staff and management equally so. To facilitate this within the company perhaps a weekly status update sheet or e-mail over the period up to the relocation, covering work done on new locations fit out, new amenities, furniture etc will suffice.

Now that you have:

  • Conducted an operational analysis and prepared a findings or working document, providing an insight to new strategies for changes to operation including manufacturing process which will enhance present business practices through better production time, cost structures, and both savings and service in regard to logistics. All when reassembled and upgraded manufacturing process in new location.
  • Established a relocation team or brought in outside commercial plant relocation specialist (Engineer) to assist in relocation project.
  • Found new site
  • Established what venders are needed to assist on relocation; and attain them.
  • Prepare a project plan ready to implement.

Its time to move
As the task of relocating and setting up (disassembling and reassembling) a manufacturing facility can take some time, the checklist "time line" as set out below can vary considerably based on the complexity of the plant and machinery that will be moved. This together with the time it takes to construct a premises on a green-fields site ready to accept plant, production machinery, equipment and the operational staff.

Depending on how the project is planned it would necessitate implementing stages of relocating equipment and machinery perhaps over two or so months as mentioned above both stages covering disassembling and reassembling. Naturally enough the focus on timing these activities would be best over seasonally recognized manufacturing down time. Perhaps timely as majority of workforce would be on holiday, long leave!


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