Manufacturing Facility Planning

by Mark N. Ottemiller, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Retired President | NuTec Design Associates, Inc.

Whether you are planning to construct a new manufacturing facility, renovate, or expand, the key to your success is implementation of a proven process that focuses crucial decision-making on the front-end of a project. Nutec has developed a planning process through blending staff knowledge with lessons learned from several decades and hundreds of successful projects.

This process is effective because it follows a logical sequence to arrive at the required decisions prior to design and construction.

STEP 1: Establish Baseline Data and Current Conditions
At the onset of any project, a baseline should be established to document current operations. This may require data collection or even a time study of the processes as well as benchmarking visits to other plants. Documentation may include:

Facility As-Built drawings (verified)

Equipment master listing with details (i.e. weights, dimensions, and utility information)

Known deficiencies (from internal or 3rd party audits)

Utility demand vs. supply

Operations Profile
- Safety performance
- Historical demand by item
- Shift schedules
- Headcounts
- Seasonal impacts
- Cost performance to standards
- Permitted and restricted uses, hours, etc.

STEP 2: Develop Vision of Outcomes
Every project requires a vision that defines what you are trying to accomplish and why it is important. Therefore, the next step in the Nutec process is to develop a Statement of a Vision/Operations Strategy. Potential content, including desired outcomes, may include:

Business objectives

Operational analysis

Production goal level and new products

- Material handling
- Raw material
- Finished product
- Man-hour reduction

Expansion requirements

Utility requirements

Energy efficiency and environmental requirements – corporate sustainability goals

Budget projections

STEP 3: Create Project Team
It is important that the project’s major stakeholders all play a role during the planning process, so it is critical to create a project team comprising both internal staff – management, engineering and maintenance – as well as external resources in order to gain a perspective of current best practices as well as the latest trends and technologies.

STEP 4: Develop Concept Solutions
The task of the project-specific team is to develop high-level concept solutions in order to generate buy-in from those who will be impacted by the project. Documents created and information developed during this conceptual stage typically include:

Material flow
- Conveyors, fork trucks, cranes, automation, carts, etc.

PFD – Process Flow Diagrams, as applicable

Adjacencies (for efficient work flow)

General arrangement layouts (facility and site)

Equipment layout, work-in-process, storage requirements

Utility matrix including equipment requirements

Identify materials for construction
- Parameters include: cost, speed of installation, soil conditions, GMP, etc.

Site layout

Support requirements - offices, break rooms, toilet rooms, etc.

Order of magnitude cost budget

STEP 5: Prepare Cost Projections
Once all parties agree on the conceptual plan, the next step is to prepare more-detailed project cost projections to compare against the budget developed during the project vision stage. If these cost projections do not fall within with the budget, the conceptual documents should be refined in order to bring the projected costs in line with the budget by determining “must haves” versus “nice-to-haves.” In other words, what is absolutely required and what is not critical to successfully meet the project vision? Note that the project budget is much more than a construction budget. It should include items pertaining to site, environmental, utility services, indirect costs, technology, communications/data/security, commissioning, training, etc.

STEP 6: Generate Implementation Schedule
The final step in the facility planning stage is to prepare a project implementation schedule that addresses the following:

• Permitting requirements (site, zoning, special use)
• Identification of long lead items
• Design drawings
• Equipment procurement
• Project delivery options – Design-Bid-Build versus Design-Build
• Sitework
• Construction
• Equipment installation
• Commissioning

This purpose of this planning process is to discover the unknowns, create buy-in at critical levels, and establish a solid foundation that will allow you to move forward for a successful project.

Questions about Nutec’s manufacturing facility planning process? Contact Mark N. Ottemiller, PE, LEED Green Associate at 717.434.1523 or email him at