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Plant Relocation Checklist: 13 Tips to Ace Your Move

Relocating a manufacturing facility is a complicated process that often requires substantial investment. It also has high organizational visibility, although it may fall outside the expertise of many manufacturing executives. The following 13 tips will help simplify the relocation of a plant, especially for those who lack experience in this process.

13 Tips to Ace Your Plant Relocation or Shop Move

1. Assess the need to relocate

The first step in relocating your plant is to ensure that you truly need to do so. Lean engineering techniques reduce space requirements while also increasing throughput. 

This process can often double production capacity without increasing the shop’s footprint, but it requires an audit of your floor space. An informal audit can identify many opportunities for reducing space requirements, such as the accumulation of work-in-process. An audit should also look for space being used for activities that don’t directly add value like the storage of raw materials that will not be immediately used.

2. Develop goals

Create a checklist of objectives that you want the move to accomplish, including the metrics that will determine if it’s successful. Common goals include reducing material travel and lead time. A new facility can also provide soft benefits that metrics can’t easily measure. These benefits can include customer experience, employee satisfaction, and the plant’s appearance, which can all be valuable to manufacturers as they grow the business.

3. Select locations

The best location for a new manufacturing facility depends on the reason you’re moving. For example, a manufacturer that simply wants to expand while maintaining its current workforce should typically relocate within its own region. 

On the other hand, a manufacturer seeking to obtain a fiscal, logistical or operational advantage may want to relocate to a different region. This can include moving closer to customers or vendors, thus reducing transportation costs. 

4. Form your planning team

Relocation affects all company departments, such as engineering, HR, operations, production and warehousing. As a result, the relocation planning team should include a variety of stakeholders who can remain informed on the project’s progress. These team members may include internal employees as well as external contractors.

5. Plan the project.

The scope of the relocation project is the first thing to focus on during the planning stage, because it can vary greatly. 

For example, the scope could consist of relaying existing operations, renovating an existing facility or building a new facility. In some cases, it may also be desirable to repair or rehabilitate aging equipment or simply invest in new. Preparing the project’s scope may require the services of architects, builders, engineers, riggers and millwrights to move heavy equipment and machinery, in addition to various equipment vendors.

6. Generate a resource list.

Resource management is key to a successful relocation, which requires proper documentation. This information should include an ID for each piece of equipment, along with its environmental, material, and mechanical requirements. It’s also good practice to maintain a library for all resources used in the manufacturing process raw materials inventories, drawings and manuals.

This information should be available to anyone involved in the design of, and relocation to, the new facility, especially engineers. It should also be part of the contract documents, ensuring the project is successful by keeping it on schedule and budget.

7. Inspect the equipment.

Inspection of your existing equipment is essential for ensuring it meets the performance elements required to recommission this equipment at the new location. Common metrics to consider when evaluating the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) include defect rate, production rate and tolerances. Manufacturers routinely measure these parameters as part of their daily operations and a relocation requires that this be taken into consideration to prepare for the move. 

For example, a machine’s alignment and leveling requirements often have a direct effect on defect rate, making it crucial to audit it prior to disassembly. Millwrights are often closely involved with this phase of relocation.

8. Design the layout

Equipment and processes should generally be installed in the order they’re used during the fabrication or assembly processes. However, you should also consider the business impact when prioritizing the layout of the shop floor. 

In planning space requirements, companies should take other factors into account as well, including material movement, hazardous material storage, wash-in-place (WIP) storage, daily huddles, and maintenance stations. 

It’s also important to keep OSHA regulations and building codes in mind when planning the new facility, which typically requires restrooms, break rooms, and locker rooms. These considerations mean that you should view relocation as an opportunity to improve the way you do business from the ground up and the well-being of employees.

9. Plan for expansion

For growth-oriented manufacturers, planning for expansion is critical to the success of any relocation. For example, the ability to add another shift at the new facility can eventually save a great deal of time and effort, even if you don’t do it right away. It’s also best practice to plan for future increases in staffing, including traffic, parking, and waste removal as “Day 1” issues when planning for the new plant. 

10. Select representatives

A company must appoint a staff member to represent it, typically a project manager. 

These staff members may serve a variety of roles, such as liaisons between construction workers and internal management, especially with respect to minimizing disruption to work-flow. This practice helps ensure that the facility meets the organization’s needs, which are often highly specific to the products it makes. 

The role of a representative can be a full-time job for a large project, so it’s important to consider the time and skill requirements when selecting someone. Underestimating these requirements leaves the company vulnerable to going over schedule or budget for the relocation.

11. Communicate the relocation schedule.

The most important goal of planning a relocation should be to minimize its impact on customers, especially promised delivery dates. Communicate the details of the relocation schedule to all stakeholders, paying particular attention to possible breaks in production. 

You should also consider customer impact when deciding the order in which to relocate equipment. During the relocation, it may be necessary to make products according to the materials currently in inventory, both for finished products and work-in-process. This practice can help accommodate the lack of resupply that can occur during the relocation of the manufacturing equipment.

12. Recommission the equipment.

Benchmarking equipment prior to its decommissioning is essential for recommissioning it successfully. You need to return the equipment to its previous condition and specification if it’s to meet the normal operational and production goals. As a result, the project schedule should recognize the recommissioning of equipment as a formal step in the overall process.

13. Partner with an experienced consultant.

Facility relocation is a complex process, making it important to get each phase right. As a fourth-generation, family-owned company, Meyer has the industry expertise to support your needs with plant relocation services, including industrial rigging to assist with the transportation, moving and installation of machinery and equipment.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help make your factory relocation a success.