Starting or Upgrading a Production Line Doesn’t Have to be Overwhelming

Starting a new production line or upgrading an existing one can prove to be quite the challenge. You’ve got a lot to consider. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the whole task. You may find yourself so caught up in the big picture or stuck in the small details that you miss some of the basic, but important, things to consider. Missing those things can cause delays and cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to come to a conclusion that leaves you feeling confident that you can deliver a quality product, consistently. Often, the first step is the hardest step in any big project, so we thought we’d lend you a hand. In this post, we will cover some of the basics of getting a new line started so you can gain some traction and move forward in this process.

What Kind of Floor Space Are You Working With?

Consider starting by allocating a specific amount of space in your plant for the machine. You need to know what kind of space you’re able to work with before you begin to consider which machines could work for you. If you buy the best machine in the world, but you don’t have the space to run it effectively, you’ve bought a lemon.

You need to focus your efforts on finding machines that will work best for you in your production space. What kind of space can you give to this production line without hurting your other lines? Remember that you don’t only need to fit a machine in the space, but also people to operate and maintain the machine. Quality machines will have significantly less downtime, but even the best machines need repairs, updates, and upgrades eventually. 

If you overlook these things you can end up creating future headaches for yourself, generating more downtime, and losing more money than necessary. So make sure you have plenty of room for the machines and their operators.

Budget: Think Return on Investment

Another obvious, but important, thing to consider when purchasing a machine for your production line is the cost of the machine itself. Too often, people approach this purchase decision in the wrong way. They think about the immediate cost of the machine and forget that every machine is actually an investment. As investments, your machines should generate your company long-term revenue which far exceeds your initial investment. When you start to think of your machines in this way, you’re able to make better decisions about which kinds of machines you should be looking for.

What do we mean? Well, suppose you needed a new line of machines that could create zipper-locked plastic bags and you found two machines that could get the job done. One of the machines is a fairly old-tech machine, but it is much cheaper. It will get the job done fairly quickly. However, the other machine is pretty new and is loaded with features and software which allow it to be twice as productive as the older machine, but at three times the initial investment.

Which one should you choose?

It depends on your needs. Over the long haul, the new machine will provide a greater ROI than the older machine. It will continue to produce twice the product the older machine is able to produce. Eventually, the sheer amount of product created will outvalue the amount of money saved by making the smaller initial investment on the older machine. However, depending on your situation and how committed you are to this new line of business, it might make more sense to go with the older machine. Thinking in this way will allow you to make the best decision for your business over the long haul.

Who Will Run and Maintain the Machines?

The perfect machine for you needs knowledgeable and skilled workers to run and maintain it. The human element behind any production line is often the one that proves to be the most challenging. To set your new or updated line up for success, you’ve got to really think through this. 

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Who do you have on hand right now who could run the machine? 
  • Where will you be pulling them from to make this happen? 
  • Who will you need to hire to make the new line run? 
  • What experience and skillsets do those people need to have?
  • How will you train people to run machines you’ve not used yourself?

Hiring can be a big obstacle to overcome, but just as difficult is the process of training people to work a new line when you don’t have any experience with the machines in that line. Do you bring in someone from the company to train your team? Do you try to hire people from a competitor who are experienced with the kinds of machines you’re purchasing? What do you do?

Though both of those are great options, we offer a third option that allows you to take care of both your machine and training needs: the Factory Acceptance Test. Our Factory Acceptance Test is your opportunity to bring your team to Frain for a day to observe and learn how your machines run. Our skilled team of technicians and engineers will walk your team through starting, operating, and maintaining your machines. They will be able to address any questions or concerns you have while your team operates the machine. You can learn more about this here. The Factory Acceptance Test is part of our broader process of Project Startup and Training which is included with every purchase from Frain. We want to ensure your team is ready and able to immediately begin production once your machine(s) arrive. 

Bringing it All Together

This is not by any means an exhaustive list of things to consider when starting a new production line or updating an old one, but it should be enough to get you started. By considering available space, available budget to invest for the greatest possible ROI, and how employees will operate and maintain your new machines, you can get down to brass tacks and find what you need. You’re clear on your constraints, which will help you decide whether a machine is a right fit for you.

Of course, working with a team of experts who specialize in machinery would make the whole process much easier. Frain has over 35 years of experience in the industry and a massive catalog of ready-to-ship machines, which makes us uniquely positioned to help you decide on the perfect machine with your unique goals and constraints.

Recently, we helped a customer named Paul, who needed to get a production line going and was unsure where to begin. We were able to help him find the perfect machine for his needs and he was happy to share his story with us. You can watch that here.

Contact us today and we’d be more than happy to help!

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