The expansion of a manufacturing facility of any scale often comes with problems, some of which can be very difficult to anticipate.
But it’s important to do your best to foresee those issues before you have to deal with them because, in the long run, expansion is inevitable if you want to stay afloat. And you will have to approach it responsibly and with a planned, organized attitude. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prepare yourself for most of those problems.
Even if you can keep expanding within the same facility, you’re going to need to grow physically sooner or later. And, when that comes, it often brings its own unique challenges to the table that you’ll have to anticipate. It’s not just about the costs, either. Expanding to a new physical location can introduce various logistical problems in your production, and sometimes it can drag down the performance of the entire facility significantly. You’ll also have to deal with hiring lots of new workers, which comes with some issues as well, but there will be more on that below.
You should also anticipate some funding issues, and fortunately, this is something you can prepare yourself for in most cases. Dealing with funding issues often boils down to having your budget sorted out beforehand and knowing what options you have available for emergency extra funding. Don’t be afraid to take out a loan if it means bridging the gap in your finances if you know how you’re going to pay it back, of course. Also, you may have to downscale your operations slightly until you can balance the expenses of your old facilities and your new ones, and you should anticipate that in your plans too.
As we mentioned above, you should also expect some significant issues with your recruitment and onboarding process. As the size of your facility grows, you’ll need to hire various new kinds of workers. And not just production line workers, either – you’ll need all sorts of new specialists to handle the growing requirements of your facility.
Understand the difference between a registered engineer and other specialists, know how many workers you’re going to need at each stage of your expansion, and be careful not to hire too many people. It’s better to be slowed down for a couple of weeks until you can bring new help on board than deal with the issue of downsizing a department after you’ve invested too much in it.
New facilities, new machines, new workers – all of this should ring some alarms in the head of any safety-conscious, facility manager. And for a good reason. You should definitely expect lots of problems in this regard if you don’t prepare for them adequately. Workplace safety is going to become a more and more problematic factor in the management of your production facility as the size of its operations grows, and it’s not something you can be lenient about either.
In fact, you might have to be a bit harsher than you’d like if you want to ensure that the job is done properly and safely at every step. Make it clear that deviating from the rules will not be tolerated in the slightest, and make some examples, too. When workers see that their salary will be impacted by not paying attention, this will change the context of their behaviour quite a bit.
As the size of your facility grows, you’ll also face various challenges in keeping it running at an optimal level. There are many things you could do to optimize your operations and streamline them as best as possible. Look into advanced methodologies like Lean Six Sigma if you want a good start. Be prepared for a lot of learning, though, because this is not a small field. It’s actually quite broad and often requires the hiring of specialists with significant experience.
And, while you might not have to do that just yet, it’s still a good idea to know what these techniques are about and how they can benefit you in the operation of your own facility. Sooner or later, you’re going to want to start thinking about optimization, and it’s good to know what your options are early on.
Last but not least, if you’re expanding a modern production facility, you’re likely integrating more and more Industry 4.0 solutions into it, as well. And, while this can be a great thing in terms of boosting your performance and staying in touch with current trends, it also comes with a few strings attached that people often tend to neglect. Security is, perhaps, the most critical point to consider here. You have to make sure that your facilities stay isolated from outside interference and check up on that regularly.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this – a major problem only has to happen once to completely ruin your operations for a significant period of time. It can be costly to keep things in order on that front, sure. But, in the long run, it’s one of the best investments you could make into a modern production plant. Consult specialists until you’re sure that the job is done right, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and learn a thing or two about the field, as well.
There are many things you’ll have to watch out for when expanding a facility like that, and not all of them will be immediately obvious. In fact, some will be difficult to foresee even for someone with significant experience in the field. It’s important to pay attention to current trends and always know what problems you can anticipate down the road. Because, while the experience is not going to be smooth from start to finish, there’s definitely a lot you can do to maximize your chances of success. And it’s in your best interest to learn all about that before you’re in a situation that would have been quicker solved with a little prep.