Magazine article Industrial Management

Facilities Planning and Design: A Foundation of the BPR Pyramid

Magazine article Industrial Management

Facilities Planning and Design: A Foundation of the BPR Pyramid

Article excerpt

Business process reengineering has provided extensive opportunities for industrial engineers to provide the skills and techniques required for business restructuring. To benefit from this theoretical structure, a competitive operation must have an enabling physical presence. Traditional systematic facilities planning has been restructured as strategic facilities planning (SFP), which supports a company's competitiveness.

Facilities design includes all the inputs that result in a company's physical assets. These assets provide the operational capacity of the organization now and in the years to come. In addition to the investments committed to land, buildings, equipment, and the physical plant, the result-the facilities design-establishes the constraints and opportunities of the operation's future productivity. Yet all too often, this design is weak, and the resulting facility either suffers or is not fully functional for years.

While sound facilities design appears to be the key to future operational success, it is an area that often receives less attention than it deserves. One reason for this is that knowledge in the operations management field is less systematic than in a field such as accounting. Facilities design is a complex management task, with an array of multiple and often conflicting inputs that generate the value of products customers buy. To adequately manage this complex task, it's necessary to recognize and apply not only the know-what of operations, but also the know-how. It's crucial to place facilities design in our operational strategy, and the reengineered operations that must be transformed into a facility plan with a supporting layout.

This article explains and illustrates how SFP is the foundation in the BPR pyramid, shown in Figure 1, as well as a competitiveness enabler. The BPR model for restructuring, illustrated in Figure 2, contains many tasks and techniques that should be familiar to industrial engineers. The article also discusses the importance of SFP and design to manufacturing plants, offices, laboratories, service institutions, warehouses and distribution centersand how it contributes to an organization's competitive power.

Misconceptions and myths In the late 1970s and 1980s, attempts to improve facility layouts were drawn by hand and were procedural/systematic. These procedures were a great improvement over the earlier templateshuffling and make-fit approach. In time, researchers explored and developed computer-generated layouts; these consumed much time and expense, with limited benefits. They concentrated on the lowwork content components of facilities design, bypassing the highest-work content tasks and-most important-establishing strategic support of core processes and ensuring comprehensive data collection. In one respect, they did have an offspring: the multiple simulation offering that is part of the 1990s marketplace. Handled with a thorough understanding of the underlying process logic of facilities planning-and its necessary inputs and constraints-simulation can be a valuable tool in facilities design. Simulation, however, is not an instant answer to facilities planning.

According to Andrew Brown, many companies are attracted by quick fixes and instant solutions. It seems to permeate the whole process: from site selection to a detailed equipment layout. Too many layout planners receive their tasks after the site and building profiles have been selected. When construction is underway, these planners are led to believe their work is on the critical path of the total project.

Another incongruity occurs when space planning units (SPUs) are developed. While major consideration is given to the block layout design (where major areas are placed in relation to each other), populating the blocks (arranging the equipment and its support services) is often seen as trivial. Block layouts, however, are nonoperational; populated layouts are operational. …

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