Most people know to contact a rigging company for a cross-country move or when the equipment move requires lifting heavy machinery high above a busy city street. What you might not know is that some of the most complex machinery moves happen all in the same building. When you need to make a change to your manufacturing line, any downtime spent moving equipment multiplies into thousands of dollars with every minute lost. Working with experienced heavy machinery movers like Rowe can help you reduce downtime and ensure an easy transition. Let us walk you through how it’s done.   

Why You Might Need to Move Manufacturing Equipment

The ‘continuous improvement’ business mantra began on the shop room floor, so it’s no wonder factory jobs almost always come to Rowe because our clients are tweaking their systems to become that little bit more efficient. We’ve helped with manufacturing equipment moves for a number of reasons, but some of the ones requiring more planning include: 

Replacing/Decommissioning Machinery. When you have discovered new equipment that can make particular parts more efficiently, at a lower price or at a higher quality, and you need to replace and scrap a section of your line.  

Facilities Move. Your business headquarters moves, you’ve outgrown your current space, or you’ve found a facility where your manufacturing line can perform as effectively, but at a cheaper rent or mortgage, and it’s time to disassemble your manufacturing line and reassemble it elsewhere.

System Redesign. New technologies like digital twins are rapidly helping manufacturing companies pinpoint system flaws or ways of redesigning their manufacturing lines that can create better products at lower prices. Often those digitally identified efficiencies equate to rearranging heavy equipment in the real world.

New Product Line. With innovation comes effort, always. When your company comes up with a new product line to boost sales, it often means that you need to rearrange your factories to accommodate the new parts and new assembly practices.

The running theme of all of these manufacturing equipment moves is revenue. By increasing efficiency and quality and innovating, you are bringing more profit to your business. But what holds many manufacturing companies back on making these transitions is the initial cost of the equipment move in downtime.

What is Downtime in Manufacturing and How Much Does It Cost?

Downtime in manufacturing is any period of time when the machinery is not in production. Downtime can be planned—for regular maintenance, staff training, or factory closure time—or it can be unplanned. Unplanned downtime is by far more costly and occurs because of disruptions like equipment failure, cyber attacks, natural disasters (including pandemics), or supply chain issues.

In one 2017 survey, manufacturing companies reported an average downtime cost of $8.5 million per hour. Downtime is so costly is because of its longtail ramifications. Not only are you not producing goods, but you’re also losing staff productivity, devoting time and money to fixing the issue, rescheduling work hours, and extending time and effort to repairing trust with your customers because of the disruption.

Hundreds of books and articles exist on how to minimize unplanned downtime, but what it boils down to is a single, simple answer: make a plan for the unplanned. Have natural disaster protocol. Schedule preventative maintenance and software updates. Undertake regular risk assessments. Create a plan and budget for moving heavy machinery.

Minimizing Downtime Costs When Moving Manufacturing Equipment 

The first rule of thumb for minimizing downtime during a manufacturing equipment move is the same for any unplanned downtime: make a plan. A few key steps are essential in this process:

  1. Identify Your Least Productive Times. Does you factory run at night or on the weekends? Do you have times of the year when productivity needs to surge or when there are slowdowns in your supply chain? Taking your equipment offline for any amount of time will cost you money but identifying your least productive hours and days across the year means it will cost you less.
  2. Minimize Affected Workspaces. You don’t need to shut down your entire factory or even an entire manufacturing line during an equipment move. Part of your plan for protecting workers during an equipment move includes identifying the workspaces affected, and that’s almost never all of them. If you can make sure that as many staff members as possible have an alternate place to perform their work, you lose less staff productivity.
  3. Know Your Equipment. Who knows your manufacturing equipment best? Is anyone still around from when it was first assembled on location? Do you still have all of your instructions and warranties? Making sure you know exactly how the equipment is supposed to fit together, and what quirks have arisen in it on your shop floor over the years means you’ll be able to ensure its safety during the move and reassemble it as quickly as possible.
  4. Hire Experienced Heavy Machinery Movers. You know your equipment, your shop floor, and your people, but a heavy machinery move includes a lot of big unknowns. Our experience has shown that every move presents unique challenges, ones that need to be identified and accounted for before the equipment move ever begins. Hiring someone who specializes in planning and executing complex manufacturing machinery moves means you gain the insight to expect the unexpected and a wealth of contingency plans if anything goes awry.

A Transportation Company that Understands Manufacturing Equipment Complexity

Line equipment is the heart of your manufacturing business, and we want to keep it beating. We understand how valuable each element of your manufacturing line is and the impact to your bottom line of halting productivity, even for a few minutes. That’s why the heart of every heavy equipment move at Rowe is planning.

We specialize in tackling the most complex heavy equipment moves, working with our customers to create detailed plans specific to their unique needs, and creating checklists for preparing their facilities and equipment. We have over a century of experience transporting some of the largest machines on Earth. We work with you every step of the way, from planning through execution, so you can have peace of mind that your manufacturing equipment will be safe and moved as efficiently as possible. If you are ready to enlist our help in shipping heavy equipment, give us a call today at 865-523-0421 or reach out to us online.