This article appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of HVMfg Magazine.

Measure Twice Cut Once

By Irving Zuckerman

Proper planning, intelligent use of space and putting safety first can lower costs and help make the investment in an industrial project more profitable for everyone.

The manufacturing industry is an integral part of the economy in NY State.  During this Great Recession, every region has been hurt by the loss of manufacturing jobs.  Manufacturing makes up 10% – 15% of wages paid in NY State’s private sector and the salaries are often higher than that of the state’s average.  With everyone talking about the importance of job creation in moving beyond this recession, it is important to remember that studies have shown that investments in manufacturing equate to job creation.  Every dollar invested in manufacturing operations has the potential to increase economic activity (i.e. create new jobs) and every newly created manufacturing job creates jobs in other areas across the local economy.

If you are contemplating an investment in manufacturing through the development or construction of an industrial property, we want to share with you some important things to consider that will make every dollar go further.

Planning
The proverb Measure Twice Cut Once is frequently applied to carpentry.  You measure your materials twice because after they have been cut, if an error has been made, the material can no longer be used.  This simple principle can and should be applied to the development process of any building project.  Below is a list of questions prepared by the professionals at Verticon LTD to help you identify if the plan that has been provided to you by your team is well thought out and considers all the needs of your project:

  • Have you considered the future?  You have undoubtedly looked at your company’s current needs for the new space but have you given any thought to your needs for the space in the future?  You can avoid costly expansions or renovations if you give some thought to the future of you company before a building project gets underway.  If you haven’t give the future needs of your company much thought, below are some things to explore before the building project gets underway:

o   Have you analyzed your competition and compared them against that of your own business?

o   After you have taken a closer look at your competition, what did you learn that might lead to a change in your internal process flow?  You might consider discussing your options with a contractor whose experience and supply chain contacts can help you look at your process and help to develop a plan to improve what you are doing currently as well as address any changes for the future.

o   Are there different products you would consider adding to your current product line?  If you have given any thought to an expanded product line at some point in the future, it would be best to plan for this during the pre-planning phase of your building project.

  • Have you explored all the options available to you?  It is common to look at the costs of materials when beginning a project and settle for the most cost effective choice.  Contractors often continue to utilize materials they are most familiar with and fail to take the time to examine the wide variety of materials available in today’s market place.  Be sure you consider all the options available to you.  The cheapest option may not be the best option.  Utilizing less expensive building materials runs the risk of things breaking and needing to be replaced which ends up costing both additional time and additional money.  This also applies to the equipment used on the site.  When the construction equipment used, is less expensive or outdated, it may not be working efficiently.  Often times it means additional hours are necessary in order to complete the same task that could have been done with more efficient equipment.
  • Has a comprehensive budget been prepared?  Every project begins with a bottom line number but our question is meant to dig a bit deeper.  Does the budget that has been prepared for the project think outside of the materials needed and the labor cost of construction?  Have steps been taken to ensure that building costs don’t accumulate like a runaway freight train?  Further budget related questions to consider include:

o   Have you looked at the further use of the facility and analyzed its productivity?

o   Has the budget been prepared against a proven cost history across all categories?

o   Will the budget be monitored as the project develops?

o   Are there schedule compliance measures in place so that the cost of labor does not put the project over budget?

  • Have you considered energy efficiency?  As of the end of 2013 any structure over 50,000 square feet will be required to go through an energy audit.  If the energy efficiency of the building is found to be lacking then changes will need to be made to bring the structure up to code.  Have you or the firm handling your build taken the time to plan for this policy change and planned for energy efficiency as part of the building process?  You will save money in the long run by taking this into consideration before you build rather than waiting for an audit to be prepared and having to hire someone to make the necessary adjustments. In addition, even if your buildingmay be less than 50,000 square feet, you will still benefit in the long run by planning for better energy efficiency.

Space
A higher level of efficiency is the goal of any business owner, whether your industry is manufacturing (production) or distribution (warehouse).  Not only are looking for increased efficiency in the form of productivity from you staff, you are looking to make the most of your space and be sure you are utilizing it as effectively as possible.   It is important to maximize the entire footprint of the building no matter if your plan involves the re-use of your existing space through renovation or expansion, the acquisition of a building or new construction for your structure.  For example, have you given any thought to the benefits you could gain by building a storage area that is higher and narrow styled?

A higher bay narrow aisle styled storage area can make a huge difference in overall space efficiency.  You can save 33% of aisle space by making the switch from a traditional forklift to a ninety degree lift truck.  The traditional forklift needs a 12’ wide aisle to make a right angle turn, while a ninety degree lift truck can work in an 8’ wide aisle.  This space savings reduces the overall space requirement by as much as 20% which in the short term, reduces the cost of materials and in the long term reduces operational costs.  Simply put, in the end you gain a huge increase in storage space (up to 60%) and spend less money to build that space.

Benefits of a high bay, narrow aisle storage space:

  • It is less expensive to build vertical rather than horizontal.
  • An existing structure lacks the ability to go wider, yet you can add additional storage racks on-premises without taking away from currently productive areas.
  • Wire guidance systems in the floor for the ninety degree lift truck means no driver error.
  • Lower operational costs.

Safety
Safety is good business. Accidents and injuries that are sometimes common on construction sites are more expensive than business owners realize.  An injury at a construction site can slow down or even halt production delaying the project and adding time and costs.  When a work site is safe and secure, productivity increases, employee morale increases and projects progress smoothly.  Be sure that the construction company you are working with has a proven safety record.

Things to should consider when considering the safety for your work site:

  • All Construction jobs should have a site specific safety plan.
  • Field staff and subcontractors should be trained in safety precautions and if possible certified through OSHA.
  • On site field safety manuals are important, this puts potentially life-saving information at the fingertips of workers where it is most needed.
  • Training in CPR and the universal precautions concerning blood pathogens among field staff will provide a higher level of security and safety.
  • It is advisable to give your field staff the ability to ask questions and be prepared to provide answers as well as any training that becomes necessary.

Everyone wants to see the economy move out of this recession into a pattern of growth.  Investments in new projects and expansion plans from existing corporations will go a long way to add jobs and bolster the economy. If you find yourself in the pre-planning stage of a building project, or if you have found the information in this article to be informative, we would like to encourage you contact Verticon LTD for a further conversation.  Verticon LTD’s commitment to the local business community is demonstrated by their continued focus on each client’s specific needs and the reliability for which they have come to be known.  For more information on their broad range of construction services please feel free to visit their website at www.verticon.net or give them a call at 845-774-8500.