Part Four - Get Your Layout Right
By this stage, you’ve selected your key suppliers, they’ve been helpful in finding your site and now you need to get planning your layout.
This excerpt from The Founder shows exactly why McDonald’s kitchen layout was key to their success. It may seem like an easy thing, but layout mistakes are incredibly commonplace and costly in the long term. The following is a simple guide on how we encourage people to think when defining the layout of a new site.
Money and Legals
First thing’s first. Before you waste a ton of your time and money on the full consideration of the layout, the money and the legals need to be sorted. These are well outside of what we do here at Ambro so we can’t help other than point you at experienced operators. On the finance side I would have a read of this article on the basics of finance by a solicitor at TLT, a firm representing several of the large brewery and pub groups in everything from licensing to buying and selling companies. You can also read some of their licensing and IP guidance here. Remember that choosing a lawyer is like choosing any other consultant - reference checks and sector expertise are key.
While the draft layouts will have been decided during site selection, you should now take some real time to look at how your new space need to work for you and your staff.
The best place to start is with a workflow - break down every production step and the processes within each one. For example, for a can line we would consider:
Materials arriving on a truck and put into store:
Empty new cans
Ends arrive on a truck
Fridge packs (or similar 4-pack for example)
Shrink wrap film (none of us are fans of this stuff but unfortunately retailers don’t hate it)
Ink jetter ink
Labels (for packs and secondary packaging)
Prior to Operation
CIP the system
Empty cans out of store and onto depalletiser infeed or next to the depalletiser
Empty labels out of store, place next to the labeller
Empty ends out of store next to the seamer
Check can ink jet coder
Fridge packs out of store and into the hopper / next to packer
Check final pack ink jet coder
Move cases / tray and film out of store, make sure that you have sufficient for the run
Move the empty pallet off the depalletiser
Move the empties onto the depalletiser
Change label reel
Top-up can lids
Top-up fridge packer
Top-up tray and film / case packer
Top-up case packer
Place empty pallets on palletiser
Take full pallets off palletiser
Stretch wrap the pallet
Move the pallet to the warehouse
Empty rejects bin
Define paperwork to be completed during the operation
TPO and CO2 tests
Any product verification - e.g. manual sample weighing
Collation area for samples for lab forcing
Now look at these tasks and the layout as one along with your team. You need to come up with a list of questions to ask when evaluating how successful your layout is and how to improve it. Remember to involve the operators; people doing the job have really valuable contributions to make.
This is our starting point list, but it’s by no means exhaustive:
Where does the lorry come onto site and what is its route to the unloading bay?
Look at this in the context of every other movement onsite, from staff arriving at work to the public arriving at the tap room to the farmer taking away spent grain
What are the forklift truck movements?
Where are the walkways and how are they kept unobstructed?
Is the course of production linear? (If you have any crossing over of paths, you need to rethink your layout)
Is there any double handling (i.e. moving items more than once) that can be avoided?
What needs to be kept off the floor?
What loads are unstable?
Should the cans be moved as-needed or should an entire run’s worth of empties be placed next to the depalletiser?
Do you have enough storage?
Should TPO / CO2 tests be done in the lab?
How can I service the equipment?
Get the space requirements from the supplier
Improving the Layout
By the time that you’ve done this for every process in the brewery, from malt-in to a lorry load of full containers leaving your site, you’ll know the best orientation, spacing, amount of storage, location of storage and layout for your equipment. This should dictate what we call the ‘full fat’ layout (the site’s full capacity layout), and from there you can cross out what you do and no not need and how to phase expansion.
Now you need to forget all of the work that you have just done. Put all of the drawings and notes in a drawer and try not to think about the whole thing for at least a week. After the week is up, get your team together and spend an afternoon walking through everything again.You’ll always notice something that could be improved and you’ll regret a few repetitive meetings at the outset a lot more than a poor layout.
After the week’s up and you’re satisfied, now is the time to plan that favourite aspect of all brewers - floors and drains. This is an area best left to experts, so once again do some research and reference checking and go and talk to your chosen suppliers...basically Kemtile, just go to Kemtile.
As ever, I hope that this has helped a bit and feel free to get in touch with us on email@example.com.