Creating Roadmaps for Successful Transformation
21st Century surface finishing manufacturers face challenges to be profitable while improving quality and efficiency. Other challenges include responding to changing production and health/safety/environmental requirements. There are substantial opportunities for process improvement to meet and rise above these challenges – success depends on seeing the opportunities and moving forward with successful projects for renovating or implementing new process and operations systems. Advanced planning enhances visualizing opportunities and creates roadmaps for successful projects.
Advanced planning provides strong benefits at relatively low investment for almost any surface finishing project. Advanced planning improves project vision and encourages strategic thinking. Advanced planning can range from focused and fast-track conceptual/strategic planning to comprehensive master planning. Advanced planning is tailored to specific project needs and opportunities, providing a range of ongoing benefits, including:
- Avoid costly rework
- Discover and plan synergistic approaches
- Provide a framework for more efficient communication and decision-making
- Provide a framework for more efficient design and implementation
- Prepare for uncertainties and changes
Plan to Plan
Advanced planning starts with recognizing its value for a surface finishing project or series of projects and allocating appropriate time and resources. Key elements to consider for the advanced planning process include:
- Background/orientation – What is the current and desired surface finishing situation? What are the goals and constraints? What information and resources are available?
- Assessment/analysis – Consider the current situation and potential approaches to achieve the desired situation. Consider interrelated elements and influences/impacts.
- Approaches – Strategize solution outcomes to achieve desired results and alternate solutions that may provide additional value through encompassing other opportunities and benefits.
- Conceptualization/Visualization – Develop concepts, description and examples (graphics, models, pictures and/or visit facilities) that enhance visualization of alternate solutions.
- Decision Framework – Define decisions to be made and a decision methodology that will keep the project moving forward with maximum efficiency.
- Change Management Strategy – Define potential changes and establish approaches for responding to and managing/minimizing impact to the overall project.
- Documentation – Advanced planning must be well documented to provide for an easy and useful reference to guide future decision-making.
- Successful process troubleshooting involves planning for and commitment of adequate resources – including people, time, and access to processes/information and funding.
A manufacturer’s decision to seek guidance early from surface finishing advanced planning experts (planning to plan) provides an opportunity to achieve significant benefits and cost savings that would otherwise be missed or will cost significantly more to achieve later.
Strong Payback for Advanced Planning
Expert advanced planning achieves strong short-term paybacks and sets the stage for enhanced life cycle project benefits and cost savings. Advanced planning can reduce the design cost for surface finishing projects by anticipating and avoiding costly changes and by providing a basis for a more efficient design process (see Figure 1, line A compared to B). Advanced planning can reduce implementation costs for surface finishing projects by anticipating and avoiding costly changes and by providing a basis for more efficient construction/ implementation (see Figure 1, line A compared to C or D). Advanced planning typically pays for itself during the design phase. Construction and life cycle O&M cost savings for advanced planning are typically orders-of magnitude greater than the initial advanced planning investment.
Capital cost range and scenarios for surface finishing project
Capital and O&M costs for new surface finishing lines
Capital and O&M costs for complex surface finishing facility renovation
Figure 2 shows a comparison of capital and combined capital plus five year operating and maintenance (O&M) costs for three project scenarios for new surface finishing lines and related process systems: design/implementation without advanced planning (A), design/implementation with advanced planning (B) (allowing for design, implementation and O&M efficiencies for a project scope similar to A), and design/implementation with advanced planning and additional capital expenditures to achieve additional O&M efficiency identified in advanced planning (C). One of the biggest paybacks with advanced planning utilizing surface finishing experts is to foresee and have the opportunity to implement changes that would be cost effective even as retrofits after a project is complete. These changes may be implemented at no or little incremental cost if integrated into the original project.
Benefits of Expert Surface Finishing Support
Advanced planning sets the stage for successful surface finishing design, implementation, operations and maintenance, and also allows preparation for efficiently managing change and uncertainty. Surface finishing advanced planning experts enhance the overall effectiveness of projects for new/renovated processes and systems/practices by augmenting client resources, providing:
● Expertise – The combination of broad range and depth of expertise with surface finishing processes (setup areas, racking and fixturing, hoists, process mechanical, ventilation and air pollution control systems, building interfaces, water and wastewater treatment, automation and information systems, heating and cooling systems, agitation and pumping systems, rectifiers, safety systems, process solution maintenance and control, workflow, etc.) enhances integrated advanced planning that considers interrelated systems. Expert surface finishing process input can provide essential insight for developing both short term fixes and systematically working through more complex issues.
● Perspective – Expert perspective based on successes and failures/shortcomings from a large number of diverse surface finishing manufacturing facilities provides compelling input early in the project to make decisions resulting in some significant cost-saving and/or project enhancing changes. These changes would not otherwise happen or would be realized much later when costs for making changes are significantly higher. Knowledge of previous similar process improvement situations and results, of best management practices, and of the full range of relevant process steps and issues can help to avoid rounds of costly trial and error problem-solving and can lead to better overall process improvement solutions that are more robust, flexible and cost-effective.
● Visualization – Significant past experience with mapping, schematics, diagrams and even process models and early 3-D visuals provides a strong basis to visualize new or renovated facilities and processes. Visualization helps with anticipating issues and opportunities and overall integrated systems. Visuals are key to providing clients with better understanding of alternatives and opportunities earlier in projects. This leads to better decision-making.
● Tools/Methods – Significant experience with advanced planning tools and methods, decision processes and outcomes, and quantities and costs, facilitates and enhances the effectiveness of this critical early project phase.
● Standard and Custom Solutions – Client needs are met and exceeded at minimal cost and risk when customized solutions are developed from proven approaches based on expert consideration of site-specific, application-specific factors.
Surface Finishing Master Planning
Surface finishing master planning is advanced planning dealing with integration of relatively complex series of projects, renovations or new surface finishing systems that are large and diverse and/or have significant interface and/or phasing issues. The master plan helps ensure that projects are done right the first time and that future projects follow a logical and systematic development plan. The master plan is a tool for management decision support regarding surface finishing and related systems and facilities and resources supporting interrelated projects that work well together to most efficiently and effectively achieve desired outcomes. Master planning provides a comprehensive approach to decision-making and to change management. The benefits and cost paybacks for master planning increase dramatically as the complexity of a project or interrelated projects increases. Figure 3 provides the same comparison for planning/design/implementation as Figure 2, but showing even stronger initial and longer term cost savings for a complex, multi-phased surface finishing renovation project.
ITI is a global consulting, engineering, and design-build firm based in Burlington, Vermont. We specialize in manufacturing processes, water and wastewater treatment, recycling, and ventilation applications for the metal and surface finishing industry.
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