As you probably already know, factories are the foundation of an industrialized economy. They allow the transition from agricultural production to manufacturing. If you ever got a chance to take a tour, they might seem too complicated. Even an episode of “How It’s Made” can get someone overwhelmed, so the narrator tries their best to explain the processes as simply as possible.
The future of manufacturing is expected to grow steadily. Mass production to meet the growing global demand for products will never slow down as the human population increases exponentially. That is why small businesses in meager offices and kitchens need to upgrade to fully functioning production plants. Here is a breakdown of what engineers consider when they design a factory:
Supply and Demand
Engineers need to know if there is enough supply and demand for what they need to produce. After engineers identify the market’s needs and whether a service or a product is what they should provide, they conduct a feasibility study. This allows them to determine their potential suppliers and their potential market.
They usually determine the historical demand on supply and find a way to calculate the projected demand and supply for their product or service. This information will allow them to entice their investors with the company’s potential and estimate the production capacity of the plan they are about to build.
The production capacity is determined by the limiting factor between supply and demand. For instance, if there is not enough supply, however much raw material is available limits the production of the factory. Some factories increase their production capacity to meet growing demands by planting their own trees or crops to increase their supply (if they are processing materials straight from a farm). Using the production capacity, engineers can determine the equipment and people they need to produce the product.
Once the capacity is determined, engineers will prepare an estimated layout of what the plant will look like and how the flow of production will happen. Using the capacity, they will be able to decide on the equipment they need and how big the equipment should be during production. It will also allow them to prepare for any mishaps during production, and they can try to reduce the chances of accidents by creating a streamlined plant layout.
At the same time, knowing the equipment they will use will allow them to estimate the plant’s energy requirements and figure out locations where they can start building. This way, they will be able to figure out which sections of the plant need different utilities, like electricity and water.
Before they start building, engineers need to identify to the government their plants for waste management. Companies can face heavy penalties if they do not have a means of disposing of their effluent safely. Likewise, a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) is a requirement before they can get a permit to build the factory. Entrepreneurs need to make sure that the kind of development they are funding is sustainable for the environment. Otherwise, they might not become a successful business, especially as social consumerism continues to be on the rise.
Cost of Production and Profitability
The most important thing for any business is to determine its profitability. Factories are expensive to make. Identifying prices in the market that you can undercut, match or beat is one of the ways you can ensure a shorter payback period for your investors. The cost of production will include all of your overhead and operating costs to produce the product or service you are providing.
At the same time, comparing the cost of production with the price you are selling your product or service at can help you figure out how many sales you need to make before the business is profitable. Engineers aim to be as economically efficient as possible, so they are usually under a lot of pressure from investors or their clients to design economic factories.
There are many other aspects of building a factory that engineers consider before breaking ground. But these five things are some initial facets of plant design that they prepare for before making any deals. At the end of the day, each block of cement is going to cost them and their investors’ money. So they need to meet requirements imposed upon by their stakeholders, including the government’s habit of being precarious when anything as big as a factory is built.