Increase Plant Size?…or Grow Plant Output?

As your business grows you face a new source of pressure: success!

When volume runs at familiar levels, it is easy to keep track….you and your staff just know what to do; control is automatic. But with more bids accepted, incoming jobs are rising daily. Now bottlenecks may be appearing. Perhaps you’ve added new employees or even new equipment, but only seems to help for a short time.


How can you get your plant more organized and productive?

You suspect the factory floor needs larger work staging areas, more elbow room, and perhaps are considering a new plant or an expansion.

If so, be sure to consider these factors in planning:

  • Cost to build is high, with warehouse shells running around $60 to $80/sq.ft. That’s $800,000 for a 10,000 sq.ft. warehouse shell.
  • Post expansion, you will have to reorder the plant internally.

Finished factories cost even more, varying by region: from $82 (St-Johns), $93 (Vancouver), $98 (Montreal) to $100 (Toronto) sq.ft., depending on size, according to KPMG. With bigger space, operations in may be even harder to control. Some managers are surprised to find their production problems follow them.


Given that math, there is an alternate approach that can cost just a fraction of construction:

  • Revise the workflow in your existing location, and optimize production at each stage – panel processing, drilling, doweling, gluing, and clamping, etc. – to increase the speed.
  • Use a mix of investment in computer technology, equipment and training to give you smoother operations and increase throughput.

A technology investment also minimizes downtime, disruption, and delivers speedier return on investment.


How does it work?

The first step is to make a broad review of operations, and identify current stumbling blocks. Then, look at technology that could help.

  • An auto-assist clamping station, for example, could cut down on delays.
  • Automated materials handling can conserve space for panel inventory, and minimizing damage at CNC infeeds.
  • Consider a new tool in coordinating production cells plant wide: the Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) requires only a modest investment, it can be rolled fast – in less than three days. Capturing data from existing machines in your plant, and will resolve communications challenges as projects move through your shop.

Gathering real-time production data, an MES can avoid missing parts and incomplete shipments, prompt employees on steps, and lets you fix bottlenecks dynamically, while they are still on the floor.

The Production Assistant, a Manufacturing Execution System from WEB-CAB, Inc., helps production managers track work in progress throughout the day, tracking projects at the component level, all the way through assembly and shipping. Managers, and all team members, can monitor progress toward daily production target levels. Best of all, the system is completely paperless – no more job tickets traveling with the project.