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We Need More Floor Space

By Brad Emerson

Now is the perfect time to take a look at the layout of your entire operation, not just the space required for expansion. An all-encompassing look is not to generate homework for an already busy manager or to increase a tight budget, but to logically put one foot in front of the other for yourself and future associates. It is easy to spot a cobbled together floor plan after multiple plant expansions the moment you walk in. The tell-tale sign is numerous personnel zigzagging back and forth with work in progress.

The first step is to breakdown a layout into footsteps – every footstep on every shift, forever. Many larger OEM’s have layouts they have generated for some of the most advanced plants in the world. If you have recently purchased, or better yet are about to purchase new equipment from an OEM, you should try to access their technical personnel to assist with layout recommendations. Their suggestions could alleviate bottlenecks beyond their equipment offer.

It is fairly obvious that the distance from a web-press bundler should be directed towards a work-in-progress staging area that flows into saddlestitching or perfect binding gatherer lines. Would the digital print engine be better off relocated near the bindery instead of the prepress area? Of course, moving larger equipment such as binding lines and presses require significant capital, but is the last paper cutter or folder that was installed creating a bottleneck with work in progress and staging? Is there currently off-line mailing, drilling, poly bagging that could be moved in-line with a modified layout?

The second step would be estimating the additional cost to optimize a layout versus throwing up a wall and dropping a piece of equipment on the floor. The cost to move a folder or cutter, or rearrange a staging area or pallet racks is fairly minimal. Even moving an average-size saddlestitcher is not as costly as the original install, with proper planning and motivated team members.

The third step is digging for obtainable R.O.I. If moving two pieces of equipment near each other allows an operator to man two machines instead of one, you’re saving money and getting a leg up on your competition. When the proper technician is in to move equipment, this is an opportunity for repairs and targeted training, without the travel cost associated to get the tech in the building for training alone.

Brad Emerson is the GM of www.fixyourownbindery.com, a company specializing in consultation, turn-key new and used equipment, automation, equipment fabrication and training. Brad’s bindery background includes bindery supervision, as well as marketing and consultation with a global bindery equipment leader. For more information, comments, questions or criticism, please email brad@fixyourownbindery.com.