Setting up a new machine workshop requires some careful planning if you want to avoid running into some of the most common bottlenecks that these environments suffer from. There are various problems that will come up along the way, some of which will be very easy to anticipate and deal with, while others might require some experience and maybe even outside help. As long as you pay attention to all critical factors though, you should be able to have your new shop up and running in no time.
1. Plan Your Layout Carefully
The physical layout of your machine workshop is by far one of the most important factors to sort out when initially setting it up. This is not something you can easily change later, and if you don’t put enough thought into coming up with a sensible layout right from the start, this will keep causing many problems for your workshop over its lifetime.
Luckily, you have no shortage of information to work with if you want to get serious with this. Look into Lean and Six Sigma for some advanced tips on this type of optimization. There have been countless studies analyzing the impact of physical layout on the performance of the typical machine workshop and going through those can lead you to some interesting revelations.
2. Secure Parts for All Custom Machines
If you’ll be building any custom machines for your workshop, figure out where you’ll be sourcing the parts for them as early as possible. Working with a partner like Octopart is ideal in these situations, as they can provide you with everything you need in one centralized spot. Establishing a long-term partnership is recommended in these situations. You’ll likely need to purchase additional parts for maintenance and repairs later on, and it’s good to know that you have a single supplier for all of that.
3. Track Performance and Optimize Constantly
The first few months of running your new workshop will be crucial in optimizing its performance. Make sure to set things up in a way that allows for maximum tracking of every factor related to performance. Of course, avoid making things too intrusive for the people working in that workshop.
But it can never hurt to pay attention to input/output levels for each stage of the production, identify potential bottlenecks, and figure out if the workshop can’t be rearranged in a way that will boost its productivity even further. It will take some time to collect all that data, so the earlier you set up the relevant monitoring systems, the better.
Try to talk to your workers on a regular basis as well. You might not be able to see the big picture from your position, and sometimes those working on the ground floor will have some surprising insights about your operations. Pay attention to what they have to say and figure out if there are any ways to improve the current situation that don’t involve a complete rework of your layout or other major challenges.