Plant Modernization

Successful plant modernization begins with a comprehensive study of the plant. Determining what specific areas need upgrades may not be as easy as it seems. Each area of a manufacturing, refurbishing, recycling,… treatment or fabrication plant can affect another area and thus an overall assessment of the process flow is needed. Plant modernization can help a firm increase their bottom line by adopting new technologies and or designs that increase efficiencies and reduce operating and production costs. Firms of all sizes should consider current technologies to remain competitive.

An effective plant modernization study will typically begin with a review of the overall system and the supporting sub systems. Then the study will evolve to a focused and detailed analysis of the primary areas of concern to find the most cost effective modifications and improvements for the specific plant. The study must be thorough and complete. Plant modernization may be required due to a change in the consumer’s preferences in a specific product, a company’s reaction to a work related accident, downsizing or growth. Ongoing improvements are unavoidable; it’s just a matter of how often they occur.

Plant modernization is a common business practice to allow firms to not only stay competitive, but also grow. Perhaps an automaker has decided to double its production to flood the market with a new car. Another example would be a water sterilization plant upgrading their plant and equipment to also be a desalinization plant. In the cases above, these firms must invest a significant amount of time, resources and capital to complete the plant modernization. Some firms operate as professionals who provide consulting and services to other firms who need upgrades in their plant design and equipment.

There are several areas of a manufacturing plant that may need attention when initiating a plant modernization campaign. Does the control system need a software or hardware upgrade? Is the machinery operating at 100% efficiency? Is there any damaged or outdated equipment that is a drain on energy resources? Are there any safety issues with the production line and the machinery that is currently in place? Plant modernization must address all areas that are hindering performance in order to be successful.

After a comprehensive study has been conducted, the next step of a successful plant modernization campaign would include a team of engineers to initiate the transition or transformation. Software, electrical, mechanical and industrial engineers are some of the team members one would expect to see on the staff responsible for initiating and finalizing the upgrades.

Changes with the plant may be required from top to bottom to achieve the desired results. Software and automated control systems run the production line equipment while heavy machinery on the production line must operate efficiently. The employees of a recently upgraded plant will also have to be retrained and in some cases, firms may need to increase or decrease staffing. Plant modernization can be small project for a local lumberyard, or an enormous project for a large automaker taking several years to complete.