5 Signs It May Be Time for a Master Plan

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June 18, 2021



‘At what point do we need to create or update our Facility Master Plan?’ is a question we often hear from facility management teams. Many drivers may influence the need to update or refresh a site master plan. Here are five of the most common:

1. Business is growing, and you need to increase your production capacity. 

If you’re adding production lines to your facility to increase your production capacity, you will also likely need to assess the impact those new lines and potentially the new technology will have on your support areas, such as raw material storage, finished good storage, and quality testing. When new lines are added to a facility, the facility management team often focuses on finding a location for the new line. In this effort, the support spaces can be overlooked until the lines are close to producing products. For this reason, the need to add new lines to a facility is a good indicator that it may be time to create or update your master plan to ensure you have the proper support in place as you increase production capacity.

A comprehensive master plan will engage key personnel that manages the production support areas as well as the production areas of the operation to identify projected space and headcount needs as the operation grows. It will also examine the capacity of the infrastructure and identify the breaking points for current systems, allowing you to plan ahead for the infrastructure projects necessary to enable the expansion of production.

2. You are continually forced to compromise facility flow and efficiency to address space needs.

Efficient flow is critical for any operation. If you find that you regularly have to compromise key adjacencies to address space needs, it may be time to step back and assess how these compromises are impacting the efficiency of your operation.

When a facility is in growth mode, it’s common for spaces that have basic utility needs – such as office and storage space – to be displaced to allow for expansion of key support spaces that have unique utility needs and are more difficult to move. This strategy, while not ideal, often provides an adequate short-term solution. But over the long term, key support spaces that remain in place will often reach a breaking point when they run out of adjacent space to expand into and the functions that have been displaced will often result in inefficient flows.

Displacement of support spaces to allow for expansion can clearly indicate that it may be time to develop or update your master plan. Proactively planning for the long term lets you have a solution before these spaces reach their breaking point.

3. It seems like you are modifying the same spaces every year to address growing demands.

Continually modifying the same spaces year after year to address growing demands can be costly and disruptive to your operation. If you find this to be the case for the key areas in your facility it may be time for a master plan.

A master plan that projects five to 10 years into the future will help you anticipate needs and make informed decisions about the expansion of key areas that meet not only this year’s needs but provide a framework for future growth.

4. You are continually surprised when groups in your facility approach you in need of additional space or you find that the capacity of a system is not sufficient to meet growing demands.

At a minimum, a comprehensive master plan will make everyone more aware of their space needs and potential space deficiencies. The master plan process will ask managers of each key area to think about their current space deficiencies as well as their projected growth needs. This will help to plan for future needs and decrease the number of surprises down the road.

5. Research and Development are planning to launch a new product(s).

Launching a new product can have a significant impact on your operation. If you’re planning to launch new products from your existing facility, the questions you may be asking yourself may include:

  • Are new or additional raw materials needed?
  • Do we have enough space to store these additional materials?
  • Do we have enough quarantine and distribution space to accommodate the additional product?

A comprehensive master plan will provide an end-to-end analysis of the operation and space needs of a facility in relation to your business objectives. This end-to-end analysis provides you with the full picture of the facility, allowing you to make quicker, more informed decisions in response to the daily needs of your facility and business.