How to launch a new manufacturing line

Consulting engineers can be great allies in expanding or changing your process, but only you can impress on them the unique needs of your company and your plant.

By Lloyd Snyder, P.E.

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The tasks that these experts must perform include:

  • Contractor management to control conformance to design and minimize change orders.
  • Safety and quality management to meet owner requirements.
  • Schedule optimization controlling project resources.
  • Utility downtime coordination with production systems.
  • Equipment supplier management controlling technician labor costs.

Lastly, field engineering often is not considered in engineering firm selection. Over the lifespan of a project, people, products and process requirements will change, and that results in the need for field engineering. These changes often occur once equipment starts to be installed in the field, requiring quick, responsive, accurate design changes.

If an inexperienced engineering design firm does not understand these needs, they will often limit support during installation and have a difficulty supplying the necessary engineering resources. Field engineers also perform submittal reviews, installation acceptance reviews and commissioning preparation.

Phase 4: Line commissioning

Commissioning considers every factor that determines how and when line equipment will begin functioning. To manage the process, the owner should craft and follow a comprehensive commissioning plan. A well developed, organized plan will enable a new manufacturing operation to come on-line sooner, reduce downtime and provide quicker returns.

Some of the key plan components include:

  • Identifying commissioning team roles and responsibilities.
  • Creating a schedule and start-up budget that includes training, testing, and start-up dates.
  • Arranging for start-up assistance with major equipment suppliers.
  • Obtaining initial supplies and spare parts and confirming availability during start-up.

The final stage in commissioning is the performance acceptance test. These critical tests are often developed with each equipment supplier during the equipment procurement phase and are the contractual basis for equipment acceptance by the owner.

The tests need to be scheduled and executed with each major equipment supplier.

The commissioning plan documents the test protocol and the required results, whether they are operational or maintenance, and the approved follow up proocess to correct deficiencies

A successful manufacturing line launch requires the development of a methodical design, implementation and commissioning plan. This is often developed as a team effort among the owner, equipment suppliers and an engineering group.

The selected project execution method deployed, whether it is turnkey, DBB or a hybrid, determines the source of the engineers and specialists that will execute the plan.

Lloyd Snyder, P.E., is vice president-food & beverage at Woodard & Curran (www.woodardcurran.com), an integrated engineering, science and operations company. The firm has been serving food and beverage clients for more than 25 years. Contact Lloyd Snyder at 800-426-4262.

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