Mechanising your business can greatly speed up your workflow. But there are a lot of considerations to make first before taking the step to buy machinery. Here are a few factors worth noting before industrialising your business.
The nature of your business
Going from handmade to industrial may not be applicable to many business in which the handmade craft is part of what sells. However, many hand-made manufacturers may still choose to mechanise particular processes which are tedious and time consuming by hand such as drilling, applying finish or packaging. Decide whether your business models relies on being hand crafted, or whether the novelty lies elsewhere, in which case manufacturing by machinery may be a sensible next step.
Considering the costs
Initial purchase and installation cost will be huge, especially if you’re buying big equipment such as a die-casting machine or a forklift truck. However, such machinery will dramatically speed up output allowing you to make a fast return. Consider whether you will be losing workers by buying such machinery and if so, whether you can reasonably pay for their redundancy. If you are expanding, then you may not need to lose any staff.
Costs of machinery rely on a number of factors including age, condition and capabilities. Opting second-hand can lower costs dramatically, however due to its age and use you may end up paying for more frequent repairs than you would with a new machine.
Location can also play a factor in the cost – if you’re having to export from overseas, you’ll likely be paying a load on top for transport. Buying a machine close to home could greatly reduce pricing.
Finding the space
Machinery needs a lot of space, which could mean expanding your premises. Other factors may also need to be taken into account such as ventilation, electrical access as well as the condition of the structure (a weak floor might not be able to support heavy machinery). Some types of machinery such as gravity and powered roller conveyors can be shaped to fit your space. Most machinery can also be assembled on location, so you won’t need a huge entrance to get the machinery into the premises (you should always check whether assembly is included in the price).
In some cases, you may be able to rent certain machinery from other businesses. This is ideal if you’re on a budget, don’t have the space and only need the machinery for short batches. For constant production meanwhile you’ll need your own machine and location.
Machinery can be dangerous and so you will have to spend time and money training yourself and anyone else up on using such equipment. This may require a special health and safety course for you and your staff, as well as extra costs to insurance.
Staff will also need be trained on how to maintain such machinery including operating, cleaning and potentially making repairs. Before buying, it may be worth testing such machinery out for yourself or at least getting a demo. This will allow you to assess whether such machinery is unnecessarily complex for your line of business, or whether you think it could have more features.