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The Role of Initial Project Plans in Successful Plant Relocation

April 8, 2020

 by David Collins

Fabrication schedule of an initial project plan

In the third step of our 9-part series on plant relocation, we will be discussing the development of an initial project plan

Previously, we discussed the importance of having an initial plan to successfully relocate your plant. Once you have a designated site, and decided if you need to construct a new building, you can start developing your initial project plan. This plan is a more concrete projection of all your upcoming activities from construction of a new plant, or modification of an existing plant to full production. 

Step 3

Each phase in your project plan should be assigned to the person responsible for it, and include reasonable time expectations, and necessary requirements, such as labor and equipment. Having this plan in place is key when deciding which operational procedure to create or modify first, and understanding when certain activities can take place. For example, you do not need to wait for your factory to be completely set up before you start training your workforce. Instead, you can begin training as you receive some machinery.

Using a modular approach

With a modular approach, you can complete each module semi-independently of other modules, giving you better control of individual modules and the ability to start production before the facility is 100% complete. Since you can produce as you continue to construct or modify your factory, you can save both time and money as well.

Steps for a new facility vs an existing facility

There are more steps involved when using a modular design for a brand-new facility compared to an existing facility. Here is a high-level modular structure for some of the most common activities involved in a greenfield project:


When modifying an existing plant, you would not need the ‘Select construction company’ and ‘Build’ modules, but the general concepts remain the same.  

In some cases, production can start before the whole building is ready, and construction can proceed module by module. When the first module is ready, the equipment can be installed, employees can be trained, and production can start.

Modular design for scalability

With the modular approach, you can also adopt modular setups, making it easier to expand your facility over time. While this approach is rarely used in Asia, it is generally faster and more cost-effective if planned properly.

A modular setup can be implemented for multiple modules provided that each step is planned out beforehand. Here is an example of a plan involving multiple modules:


The Bottom Line

As a tool of Lean, using the modular approach can help you ensure that you are able to rollout production at the minimum viable product stage. With this approach, you can prioritise the setup & production of your best-sellers while construction continues for other modules. This offers you added flexibility when it comes to scaling production up or down later on. 

In the next step of this series, we’ll cover setting targets for your plans to gauge success.

If you are thinking about moving your manufacturing facilities and would like to talk through the process, feel free to contact us now.

Contact CMC for Factory Relocation support

Topics: Lean Manufacturing, Chinese Factories, Manufacturing Consulting, Project Management Systems, Plant Relocation

David Collins

David Collins

25+ years manufacturing experience in computer, automotive, aerospace, furniture, and chemical industries.
Build and managed several automotive plants in North America.
Successfully turned around Foxconn’s Mexico plant.

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