Efficiency is at the very core of the manufacturing business, and pursuing it affects every point in the production line.
This leads many owners to employ automation for a segment of or an entire area of their facility. A shift to automation brings a number of challenges and costs, but with the correct team and robust implementation plan, an owner can look forward to positive results in both their facilities and rate of return on their investment. There are four key steps to implementing a successful automation program.
1. CART AND HORSE, OR HORSE AND CART
What factor will be driving the cart: process, budget or technology? Ideally, the process dictates the project. However, due to compressed schedules and the desire to bring the systems on line quickly, the team is often left with two front-runners: technology, and project budget. The reason that these two factors govern is that often times, as the project is being developed, additional efficiencies and advancements in the technology will be realized and the owner is faced with the decision of “What is good enough?”
2. HOLDING A DESIGN CHARRETTE
Typically, a charrette and Inter-Active Planning (IAP) session involves all project stakeholders. It is a useful tool in establishing lines of communication, documenting and vetting requirements, and capturing pertinent information regarding project initiation.
3. UTILIZING GAP ANALYSIS
The gap analysis process assesses program requirements, highlights missing elements from customer requirements, and then serves as a record of action items moving forward. This process has additional benefits during later phases of the project. It serves as checklists for the team to use to confirm that all requirements are integrated into the construction document package.
4. HOLDING REGULAR COORDINATION MEETINGS
Once the project is underway, holding regularly scheduled meetings within individual project groups as well as cross-discipline coordination meetings is critical. Internal meetings for facility development would include the owner, project architect, all engineering disciplines (structural, mechanical, electrical, and data/ communications) and their primary focus on facility infrastructure.
For more details on implementing automation in your production process, and for a comprehensive checklist for success, download our white paper “Provisioning for Automation”.
Matthew is an architect with over 17 years’ experience working on manufacturing projects. As a project manager, Matthew has overseen both large and small projects with the same conscientious attention to detail and emphasis on client satisfaction.