How Should Organisations Relocate Their Manufacturing Facilities?

Written by Adam Davies on Jan 15, 2018

Having joined EO Executives Interim team last year, I have had the opportunity to work with Interim experts who have lead momentous change and transformation projects. What I continuously find most rewarding comes from collaborating with these leaders. Through placing them into roles and learning about how they leverage their specialist skill sets, analytical mindsets and flexibly to offer quality expertise to organisations at a time of need.

Mark White Photo.jpg

Each Interim will have an area of specialism and organisations turn to them to solve urgent problems. Whether it be to plug a skills gap, lead a change and transformation or implement a successful re-organisation and relocation. The latter I will explore in this Q&A with highly experienced and dedicated Interim Expert, Mark White.

What I was keen to uncover from Mark was the vital insights organisations need to consider around relocation of their manufacturing facilities. Looking at why an organisation may need to consider a relocation, the skills needed for implementation, the common challenges and how to overcome them.

1. Why do organisations relocate their manufacturing facilities?

There can be many reasons for an organisation to undertake a relocation, but in my experience, it is normally driven by an over-arching supply chain optimisation/re-organisation project that has included a number of factors. Such as, consolidation of plants into larger operating facilities, improved transportation efficiencies, delivering cost and operational synergise post M&A (Merger and Acquisition) or being closer to your customer as they grow. Ultimately, moving a manufacturing plant is never an easy task to undertake and an organisation will often analyse many scenarios before the decision to relocate it finalised.

2. What skills are needed to implement a successful relocation?

Project management and excellent communication skills are key for a relocation to be successfully achieved. Combined with a broad understanding of how factories operate, along with the internal and external functions that interact with them daily. After all, they will be impacted and therefore it is crucial they are involved in the relocation planning and execution as project team members. I have also found that building a strong project team, with engaged and committed project stakeholders will help deliver a successful relocation.

3. What are the key challenges faced when relocating and how are these overcome?

There are many challenges when relocating a manufacturing facility, but for me the main challenges are how is the relocation technically completed with no impact to your customers? And how do you keep and maintain an engaged and motivated workforce to support the project delivery? The first can be largely managed within the planning and execution phases by ensuring that the plan developed is realistic and achievable within the cost and time frame constraints. The second is not only a matter of communicating the project status within its life cycle and its risk and mitigation, but also the two-way communication with employees on the front line or being affected as the factory starts to ramp down and up as the facility transitions to a new relocation to ensure they have any relevant information to themselves and training to be able to complete their roles.

4. Challenges when relocating a facility from UK to Oversees?

Relocating to an overseas location has all the standard complexities that you would find with a domestic relocation, plus you generally have the added challenges of a larger project team, time zone and language differences. However, the largest challenge as you move from one country to another is it often requires a whole scale change to the supply chain with possible new 3rd party suppliers, transport partners and routes and other daily operations support. This is by far the hardest relocation to manage.

About Mark…

Mark White is an experienced Interim Operations Expert with over 20 years manufacturing expertise. Mark has worked for global organisations both domestically and overseas overseeing operations, supply chain and clearly a number of domestic/international relocations.

To connect with Mark, click here.

Next steps…

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