Where to locate your manufacturing building
Whether you’re expanding an existing manufacturing business, or building one from scratch, location is perhaps the most important consideration of all.
Getting the right area
While it may be tempting (and necessary) to look for low-cost premises in a low-cost area, that can’t be the only consideration.
For example, does the area have people with the required skills, both now and in the future? If the area has active links with the education and training sector that may also be appealing from a skills point of view.
What are the transport links like? What are the tax implications? It’s also important to consider what financial support from the local authority might be available and whether there are incentives to locate in a regeneration area or Enterprise Zone. These are factors that can affect the viability of creating a new manufacturing base.
Finding the right building
A decision on the building will be driven by what you manufacture and what you might manufacture in the future. For example, if it’s a product that requires a lot of power to make, test and supply you will likely need a building that runs off three-phase power. You will want to know if this can be facilitated before you make any decisions.
The size of the product and the machinery you require will also dictate how much warehouse and racking space you need, and hence the size of building. These are significant considerations that need to be investigated early in the process.
It’s easy to become pre-occupied with the amount of floor space when looking for a manufacturing base, but don’t forget about the infrastructure and the physical attributes of the building itself.
For example, find out whether the existing telecommunications systems are suitable for your requirements and whether they can support the increasingly automated manufacturing environment. Inspect the electrics carefully to ensure there won’t be major issues and that power costs can be kept under control.
It’s also important to consider the shelf-life of the building and whether it could be upgraded cost-effectively in the future. This is especially important considering new rules coming in which will require new buildings to have minimum energy efficiency standards. Also, find out what condition the floor is in and test whether is it strong enough to withstand its new use, such as forklift and lorry traffic. Can it be adapted and can you continue to trade while this happens?
Having enough space for growth
Faced with an urgent need for more manufacturing space, it’s easy to overlook the future requirements of the business when looking for somewhere to locate your factory premises.
For example, will the premises you’re leasing or purchasing give you enough room if you suddenly need to upscale production? Is there sufficient office space accompanying the shopfloor and enough car parking provision for staff? If you need to downscale, would you be able to rent out areas of the building to other businesses?
At some point in the future you may also want to extend the premises or create new buildings on the site. Assess whether there is adequate space to do this and whether It’s possible from a planning perspective.
The new-build option
If you’re a highly specialised manufacturing businesses, designing a new factory bespoke to your needs may be the most attractive and cost-effective option.
New-build factories often allow businesses to make significant cost savings by having more efficient buildings and allowing outdated and underused property assets to be sold off.
Working with a team of industrial architects will give you a factory design that’s fit for your future manufacturing requirements.