One of the most recognizable and evocative buildings in the world, The Empire State Building, spent a considerable amount of money to bring the historic—but still very functional—office building into the 21st Century. In 2011, it spent just over $550 million on environmental upgrades, which involved improving insulation, adopting energy-saving technologies, and replacing or refurbishing 6,500 windows. This costly effort paid off almost immediately as the building’s annual energy bill dropped by an impressive $4.4 million and set the building on course for another hundred years’ use.
Help Your Facility Help You
One of the big takeaways here is that you can always work with what you’ve got, and when renovating and/or designing any facility, you can improve your efficiency by considering how you use it, what you use within it, and imagining how things could be different. If your facility is not conceptualized with efficiency as the foremost consideration, your production will be limited, processes will be slowed down, and overall profitability will suffer—and if you’ve never considered the efficiency of your facility, then you’re likely already suffering.
When redesigning or reimagining your facility—be it a warehouse, workshop, packagingoffice, or what have you—space, production, safety, and convenience are what you need to be mindful of. You need your facility to have efficient storage and production capacities, to reduce waste in terms of time and energy in storing and picking a product. Don’t get locked into ways of thinking—there will be several different ways that a facility can be designed to be more efficient, so don’t be afraid to think, re-think, and then discuss your ideas with the people who will be using the new layout day after day.
Building Information Modelling (or BIM) is a type of software that can be used to create a 3D model of your facility to analyse the structure of your facility, run simulations, and identify bottlenecks, friction points, loss areas, and so on. It will even help with suggesting emergency exits and safety precaution placement, such as fire extinguishers and blankets. Advanced types can even show factors such as water, airflow, and ventilation.
Again, it’s worth spending more time at the planning stage to get your facility layout right since it is easier to change course at the beginning of a project, than in the middle of one.Remind yourself that you don’t have to stop at just reorganizing. Consider moving or creating areas out of the facility into a new building, or build a mezzanine floor above the production facility, if space allows.
A Liveable Space
Arguably more important than questions of efficiency, however, are those of liveability. If your staff hate the environment that they work in, then morale, productivity, and customer service will plummet, and no amount of training or new hires will fix that. The converse of that idea is that improving your environment will increase morale, productivity, and service.
As a wise businessman once said, “People will never go out of business.” So, invest in your people by investing in your facility, and you will see a payoff almost immediately.