Manufacturing Plant Standardization

Faced with fierce market competition, the success or failure of any manufacturing business is often dependent on strategy and follow-through to achieve breakthroughs in productivity improvement, costs reductions and beating the competition to the marketplace. In this article by Michael Verdier, market leader of Integrated Industrial Design at BHDP, outlines how an investment in Manufacturing Plant Standardization (MPS) provides a unique and effective methodology that can advance your business and achieve near and long term strategic goals.


manufacturing-plant-standardizationOne critical area often overlooked when increasing and expanding manufacturing capacity is in the approach to facility design and construction execution. To remain competitive, leaders of manufacturing operations, particularly companies that are growing, must make a shift from the traditional one-off project-to-project execution approach to a more thoughtful and strategic facility design and expansion approach. Appointing a team to study and define facility design requirements such as, equipment general arrangements, location control plans, column spacing, roof slopes, building clear heights or even room lighting levels on one project, only to have these design requirements studied again on a subsequent project is neither time- nor cost- effective.

In addition, this is a significant productivity loss for talented members of an organization. But what if there was an alternative that allowed a business to grow while simultaneously increasing organizational productivity, reducing the cost of capacity expansion and accelerating schedule without compromising quality or safety? Manufacturing plant standardization (MPS) provides a proven and effective solution.

What is Manufacturing Plant Standardization?

MPS is a design methodology that, guided by a company’s short- and long-term business and capacity growth strategy, combined with future innovation and automation plans, seeks to define and document a best-in-class global manufacturing facility design. Once achieved, the result is a design that is repeatable, scalable and capable of being executed globally.

Commitment to MPS becomes a key enabler and strategic advantage to rapid global expansion and growth where resources are limited, facility expansion costs are high and material and equipment lead times are lengthy. When properly implemented, an MPS strategy consciously drives repeatability and predictability in design, building material and equipment sourcing plans, capital spending, construction execution plans and execution schedules not possible with a traditional oneoff manufacturing plant design approach.

Overall, the adoption of an MPS strategy significantly helps in delivering productivity, cost and speed-to-market objectives.

Increased productivity

By avoiding the need to staff every capacity project with internal subject- matter experts, MPS increases productivity. A one-time investment of assigning the most talented, knowledgeable and experienced resources within an organization on a lead project to define and document the operational, process, logistics and design requirements in a global manufacturing plant standard (GMPS) releases those resources to focus on other corporate priorities in the future. Once documented, the GMPS becomes the basis for all future capacity expansion projects, whether expanding an existing facility or a new Greenfield site.

Absent a GMPS, every project and project team is burdened with studying, defining and gaining concurrence to operational, process, logistic and design requirements, essentially repeatedly starting from the conceptual phase. This outdated approach inevitably leads to different and non-standard global solutions on each project, resulting in varying degrees of operational and project delivery success.

Cost Reduction

Along with increased productivity, a business’s commitment to an MPS-design strategy creates opportunities to significantly reduce costs throughout all phases of project execution not possible with non-MPS execution approaches. The following tips outline three of the virtually limitless opportunities for cost reduction.

  1. Saves in architectural and engineering (A/E) design consulting fees. When an MPS strategy is employed and best-in-class facility design is captured within a GMPS, subsequent projects and their respective design-consulting professionals are no longer burdened with defining the building, facility and utility design requirements. Also avoided is the task of diverging and converging on design concepts and possible solutions that form part of each project’s concept phase. Rather, project teams and their design consultants are able to take advantage of standardized design requirements and can reapply design drawings and specifications and coordinated multi-discipline 3D Building Information Models (BIM). Creating the possibility to reapply design deliverables project-to-project offers the ability to not only reduce design consulting fees but also compress the schedule of the front end design phases.
  1. Increases a company’s ability to leverage scale and negotiate quantity discounts. Once established, a GMPS opens the door for opportunities to leverage scale on multiple levels not least of which is in the procurement of building materials, central and process utility equipment and even production equipment. Having standardized production facilities empowers businesses to be forward thinking in bundling material and equipment orders to achieve quantity discounts. Armed with the knowledge and confidence that a compressor, chiller or other standardized equipment can be purchased and allocated to any MPS facility, be installed in the same location, on the same centerlines and with a vertical start-up is tremendous. Further, predictability in facility design allows reallocation of valuable equipment assets from one facility to another. Along with the potential saving of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on capital equipment, this approach allows for a swifter response to unexpected capacity increase demands and the ability to replace damaged equipment without long equipment delivery lead times.
  1. Reduces the need for full-time equivalent resources appointed to carry out the feasibility, conceptual and definition phases of each project. With MPS as the global standard and basis for each new project, project teams are smaller. Time commitment to make design decisions and execute projects is also reduced by virtually eliminating the feasibility and concept design phases and enabling an abbreviated definition phase followed swiftly by detailed design. The result is a significantly compressed design execution schedule.

Increased productivity and cost savings, while critical to a business’s success, are no longer sufficient on their own to succeed in a global market economy, where delays in launching a new product or failing to fulfill customer orders can result in long-term loss of sales, profit and market share. When leading a facility expansion to meet challenging start of production dates, a prior investment in MPS not only creates schedule acceleration opportunities during design but also during property search, acquisition initiatives and construction execution. Building, utility and site requirements defined within a GMPS become the property and infrastructure search criteria. This process allows property search activities to begin much earlier and facilitates swift decisions on which properties to discard and which ones should progress into a due diligence phase.

Freedom from dependency on completing detailed site and facility master planning as a prerequisite to property search creates an opportunity to finalize the property acquisition sooner and move the start of site construction activities to the left on the execution schedule. Schedule advantages realized by a global standard repeatable design extend into virtually every aspect of construction execution. Beginning with construction supplier pre-qualification and continuing with long-lead equipment or building material procurement, development of modularization and pre-assembly strategies and continuing through to development of building erection and building handover plans. The unique ability to develop repeatable construction execution, material sourcing and logistic plans that can be implemented on multiple projects versus a single project, aids in compressing construction durations. At the same time, using a plant standard facilitates the ability to capture learning and refine those plans project-to-project to achieve even greater efficiency on a continuous basis.

Commitment to the Plan

With increasing competition in a global market, developing and maintaining a competitive edge are more important and more challenging than ever before. Defining and successfully implementing strategies to maintain that edge requires leaders who are not only forward thinking and who understand the vast long term benefits of investing in strategy, but are also unyielding in their commitment to bringing those strategies to life. For manufacturing businesses that are growing and wish to continue to grow competitively, an investment in MPS provides a unique and effective execution methodology to advance their business and achieve their strategic goals.

Michael Verdier provides leadership for the Integrated Industrial Design (IID) Market within BHDP. The IID Market serves domestic and international clients possessing manufacturing and/or material distribution operations. Through our integrated design process, we offer Capacity Master Planning, Site & Facility Master Planning, Facility Platform Standardization, Logistics Modeling & Simulation and Conceptual through Detailed Design in support of our clients’ capacity expansion programs. Our objectives are to deliver Best-In-Class facilities that allow our clients to achieve breakthrough productivity, cost and speed to market goals.

This article originally ran in the September/October 2014 issue of Manufacturing Today; republished with permission.

Photo Credit: Flicr user nsalt.