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What to take into account when designing a new factory

Planning a new factory is exciting, but there are lots of factors to consider. Poor planning can result in expensive problems later down the line, so it pays to invest time and money into getting it right.

Factory design should be a collaborative effort involving engineers, architects, production managers, electrical contractors and other relevant stakeholders. Bringing in the right people from the start ensures that all aspects are considered and integrated effectively.

Space planning

No matter how much space you have available, you’ll want to optimise every square inch. How much space will be required for storage? How can you optimise this space? What space is required for the various production areas? How can you ensure an efficient flow of materials and personnel throughout the factory?

Conduct a thorough analysis of production processes and workflows to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement. Optimise the layout and arrangement of equipment, workstations, and assembly lines to streamline production flow and minimise the movement of materials and workers.

You should also account for future expansion. What are the plans for business growth? Will you require space for additional production lines or extra capacity for storage? How can this be incorporated into the immediate design plans?

Male architect and manual worker examining blueprint in metal industry

Safety and compliance

Safety should always be a major consideration in any factory design process. Take time to understand legal requirements, building codes, local regulations and industry standards.

Ensure adequate fire alarm systems, suppression systems and emergency exit routes. Pay attention to lighting, temperature control and ventilation. And incorporate safety features into the layout, such as clear markings, protective barriers, and designated walkways.

Check that your proposed factory design complies with accessibility standards for disabled workers and visitors. Incorporate ramps, elevators, and appropriate signage.

Environmental impact and sustainability

With a global focus on environmental responsibility, your new factory design must incorporate sustainable practices.

If buildings are being constructed from scratch, research the options for energy-efficient materials such as insulated concrete - known to achieve energy savings of approximately 20% against traditional building materials.

Opt for energy-efficient lighting, HVAC systems, and equipment. Consider a battery storage system to store the energy you purchase at off-peak times for use at peak times. This reduces the amount of energy wasted and lowers your costs.

Can you incorporate renewable energy sources, heat capture or water-saving technologies in your new factory? How will you ensure the waste management system is environmentally friendly? How can you make production lines more energy efficient?

Technology integration

Assess the latest manufacturing technologies to determine how they can be integrated into the factory design.

Consider control and automation, robotics, data analytics, and IoT-enabled systems to enhance production efficiency, quality control, and overall performance.

Look at opportunities for reusing waste heat using technology such as heat exchangers, heat pumps, heat recovery wheels, absorption chillers, waste heat recovery for compressed air systems and solar thermal systems.

Utility infrastructure

Plan for the necessary utility infrastructure, including power supply, water, wastewater treatment, and internet connectivity. Consider future expansion and the ability to handle increased production capacity or new technological requirements.

Research any renewable energy options, such as solar or wind, and look at how these could be incorporated into the design. Flat warehouse roofs, for example, can be good locations for solar panels.

Consider opting for a combined heat and power (CHP) system that can generate electricity and capture any waste heat to be reused. CHP systems are more energy efficient than having separate heat and power supplies.

3d illustration of factory over blueprint background.

Employee amenities

Design employee-focused areas within the factory, including comfortable break rooms, restrooms, and well-ventilated workspaces. Consider providing recreational spaces, natural lighting, and other amenities to promote employee well-being and productivity.

Foster a collaborative work environment by designing areas that encourage communication and teamwork. Include meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, and common areas where employees can interact and share ideas. Implement communication technologies to enable seamless information exchange throughout the facility.

Maintenance and upkeep

Account for ease of maintenance and repair. Plan for access points, maintenance areas, and spare parts storage. Incorporate equipment and machinery that are easily serviceable and design systems that can be upgraded or modified as needed.

Control and automation systems can monitor equipment and provide predictive maintenance information, allowing maintenance to be scheduled before equipment failure occurs. This proactive approach can help reduce downtime and increase equipment lifespan. Consider utilising control and automation technology in your new factory.

Business continuity

When designing your new factory, it’s important to consider business continuity. You’ll need an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) to keep business-critical systems running when power from the grid is compromised.

Combining a UPS with a generator system can be beneficial. A UPS functions as a bridge during a power loss, switching to battery power to keep connected devices operational while the generator starts, which can take some time.

Battery storage systems can also be configured as an uninterruptible power supply. Although they can only store a limited amount of power, they can provide enough for you to safely shut down critical systems or transition to your backup power supply.

Getting started

If you’re designing a new factory or considering an extension to your current facility, it pays to get expert advice from AES.

Some of the areas we can provide support with include:

Get in touch to find out how we can assist with various elements of the design and planning of your new factory.

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