I am going to add a 9500 sq. ft. machine room to the cabinet shop. Is there any software out there to help with tool layout and work flow. Tools would include everything from big stuff such as a cnc, slr saw, 6 head moulder, 3 head widebelt, and clamp carrier down to shapers, mitersaws and everything inbetween.
How complex are the items produced? Kitchens usually have at least 80% of their parts very similar. You will want to maximize the flow through the shop for at least 80% of all parts. There is a simple graphic way of doing this. Layout your space to scale on a pc. of Celetex (Soft cane board.) Draw the things inherently fixed. Make card stock tools to scale with one edge turned up as a handle. Include the max sized work pc. coming & going. Mark that part in a different color. The goal is to have the most parts you can, flow through the layout w/o having to back up. If you are a very small shop you might get by with nothing more than a table to lay the parts on at the outfeed/infeed of the next operation. If you aren't likely to use two machines that can share a common in & out area at the same time their colored "boards" can over lap. After getting an initial layout, take push pins and pin each machine to the celetex. Using colored strings trace the path that each part must follow by winding it around the pins. You now have a representation of not only the paths but also the volume of work (# of strings on a given path.) Photograph each layout you do to preserve it. Digital cameras are great! You can go through many iterations in a short time. Each improving the flow and maybe taking some other things into consideration. This scheme can also allow for future equipment by making it possible to locate w/o a lot of changes. You can let your employees see how it works. Make a series of layouts with improvements and tack the photos next to each other for evaluating progress. Progress will take days of considering, trade offs, etc. But you will have provided a way of inching your way to the conclusion. Allowing everyone to see the results & contribute. 1/4" scale is nice to work in.
Get yourself a piece of sheet metal and paint it white. Take a markalot pen and draw the walls and bathrooms. Then go to the office supply store and get some colored construction paper and peel & stick refrigerator magnets (the kind you sometimes see business cards affixed to.)
Step 2 is to use the construction paper to make scale versions of the machinery. These little models will be fastened to the refrigerator magnets.
This is kind of an analog approach but will allow your crew to have some input about shop layout without having to know anything about CAD.
I was going to wait for Mel to suggest this but she's busy tuning her guitar for the afternoon sing-along. Since I already had the koolaid poured I figured I would pitch in.
I have used JWSee's method - or similar - to lay out over 9 shops in the last 35 years - almost all were pre-CAD. Keep to scale, and on each 'machine' be sure to list dust extraction in CFM and connection port size, power requirements, and compressed air needs. I also included carts with 16' lumber and sheet goods so I could literally push them around and park them by equipment. It is nice to locate machines, but without materials coming into and away from the carts, it is hard to see the real flow. I encouraged key employees to do the same, and add suggestions as they came up.
This avoided any large screw-ups and only required minor tuning. It helps get everyone on the same page for moving things, and will help the electricians, air supply guys and dust collection pipe runners.
Once it is settled, photograph it and then lay out on the floor where the machines go, along with the key connection info that was used on the mock-ups. Use a black marker, and be sure to indicate feed directions and such details. I like to use the flexible cable disconnects coming down from above so things can be scooted without running more conduit.
I just finished the capstone for my degree in wood products processing. Our project was to come with a product and do a plant lay out and complete economic analysis.
The plant layout is best done if you can get to autocad and draw the unit and print it to scale on a large piece of paper ( outsource this to the printers ). Then, get your exact machine dimensions, and cut them to dimension on colored cardboard paper. Then try to fit them in the drawing in a logical flow. Save space for buffers, walkways, trollies and racks by using different coloured paper. I thought I had the best layout, but I came back to it a week later and moved it around came up with an even better one. Also, as Larry said, make sure you can get your biggest piece through all the zones, by having another coloured cutout for your representative piece.
You might also want to test your layout ideas with something called 'Value Stream Mapping'.
After you have your layout established on paper take a colored pencil and trace the path a product would travel through the shop. Start the pencil at Station 1 then continue to Station 2 etc. This drawing will really educate you as to how much back and forth and inside out you have to travel sometimes to get something done.
When you are done with one product repeat the process with a different colored pencil for the next product. Eventually your shop layout drawing will start to resemble a plate of spaghetti. All those switchbacks cost money but don't necessarily add equal dollars to the pile of money.
The first picture is using the method described up. The second picture is another way we did it once, as i describe now.
We outlined it on paper and put the paper on corkboard, then we pinned the machine cutouts, and when we had a layout we liked, we taped it down. I have templates for all those machines and forklifts etc. you can shoot me an email for them.
"I think an important design criteria is to minimize dust, air and power runs and centralize as much as possible."
I have to disagree. Assuming you are laying out a plant that you expect to operate for more than just a few months, the savings in efficiency will pay back any up-front cost before you know it. And then will be gravy for the rest of your life.
Of course, if two different placements of the same machine provide exactly the same flow, one that minimizes the cost of utilities would be the preferable one. But that should always be secondary to flow.
"I think an important design criteria is to minimize dust, air and power runs and centralize as much as possible." I sort of agree but it is a distant 2nd to flow.
"buffers for expansion machines and technologies." That's a real tricky one! Takes a good crystal ball to work very far out. Even with in our main type of product (panel processing) things have changed hugely in the past 25 years. Even in the over 15 years that we have been running CNC machines, big changes in methods, space requirements, utilities.... At one time we did very little contour banding, very common now, mainly because designers have jumped on, not because of any particular tech change.
I am surprised that SketchUp has not been mentioned here already. It is a very powerful program for designing spaces, and I have used it in every shop I have been in in the past eight years. It is free, and you could download thousands of models pre-built by other sketch of users, often the exact machinery you are trying to fit into your space, or you can scale them to fit.
Using sketch up has saved me hours upon hours rearranging and I have been happy every time with the outcome. If you need a little help getting started, there are scads of videos available that will get you headed in the right direction quickly.
An employee of mine said his former boss used software to set up his new shop. He is trying to find out what it is. He thought it placed equipment for you after it was given necessary parameters such where material enters the shop, work flow direction, material size, what equipment you have, ect. It offered several options and allowed you to make changes but to their surprise to first option it gave was the best option.
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