Thursday, August 29, 2019

Preparing for new equipment installation

Growth and expansion in a business is driven by the arrival or hope of new customers and orders.  This justifies the cost of new equipment in all levels, whether a new exposure system that allows for faster screen production, a new DTG to expand into new markets or a new automatic press for quicker turn around.  This expansion is exciting and trying times and there are some tips for preparation of installation of the new equipment.

What to expect upon machinery arrival.

Depending upon what is coming, a machine may be installed by your own staff or it may need a technician.  However, one this is certain.  It will arrive on a truck and it will be heavy.  It will need planning for the unload and connection.  What exactly does that mean ?  It means understanding how to get the product off the truck, having a door and path wide enough for the equipment to reach its final location, having utilities and services ready and finally having people on hand to help.

If it is coming on a commercial carrier.

Common carriers, those are the semi-trucks seen on the road, then accommodations need to be made to get the machinery off of the dock high truck and onto your production floor.  If your location has a dock, then a pallet-jack is typically sufficient to unload from the truck.  If your location does not have a dock, then there are a couple of options.  First, a lift gate can be requested.  These are an additional cost and additional delivery time.  Also, if the crate is larger than a 4' x 4' area, then a lift gate will not be large enough to handle the skid.  Second, a fork truck can be rented and the crates can be lifted from the back of the truck to the ground.  This rental is typically the same cost as a lift gate.  As a final option, a roll back tow truck can meet the carrier and move the crate onto their bed and then lower it to the ground.  This is typically economical and most roll back drivers are trained in this process.

Once the crate is in the shop, equipment must be available to remove the equipment from the crate.  This will require people or a fork truck.  Smaller machinery can often be lifted with a few people but anything like an embroidery machine or an automatic press will require a fork truck to place the machine into position.

If it is being delivered by the manufacturer or distributor.

Typically, a driver for a manufacturer or distributor will have a plan for getting machinery to the ground and often a plan for placing it into position.  However, that installer will need people to help.  One person cannot move machinery without additional muscle.

What should be ready at your location?

An installers time is limited, so to get the best use of that time the shop should be completely ready for the product to install.  This means that in addition to having a way to move the machinery from the truck to the shop floor, there needs to be a path large enough for this to happen.  This could required a ramp up some stairs.  It could require a door removed or widened.  It could require that other machinery in the shop be shut down and moved temporarily.  All of this need to be accomplished before the truck arrives.

The next item on the list is the arranging of services and utilities.  If this machine requires water, air, electricity or gas, or a drain then then need to be set in advance.  New ovens, compressors and automatic presses require high voltage and amperage to operate so have those lines available in advance.  Compressor air lines should be run before machinery is placed and if the compressor is the new addition, check to see how water will be released from it during maintenance.

Training is a thing that takes concentration.

If the installer is also the trainer, then the staff needs to be prepared to stop production and pay attention.  This will reduce issues in the long term and make everything smoother.  If the machine is a set up and go, then your staff will still need time to experiment with setting that are best for you production.  Exposure times are calculated differently for every shop and emulsion and only recommendations can be offered from the manufacturer.  Curing times and temperatures change in each shop, so be prepared to adjust setting and check every job.  Set up for manual and auto presses is different with every press.  So learning this will take time.

If you are expecting a new printer or embroidery system, you should have artwork prepared for testing.  We do not recommend single color jobs as these do not offer enough challenges to learn the process.  But we do not recommend a high end job that you have never printed before.  Learning a new machine and a new process at the same time will cause frustration and additional down time.  So solid 3 to 4 color work is best.

Also, do not hold jobs in house waiting for machinery to arrive.  Learning a new process with a deadline looming is stressful and leads to trouble.  If you have jobs in house that this equipment was purchased for, then either send it out for now or print it how you would have before.  Yes, we understand that quick ROI is the hope, but frustration of learning is not going to help.  Keep the stress down anyway possible.

This is exciting, right?

Yes, it is.  New business and learning new skills is always exciting.  Set yourself up for smooth transitions and take breath.  Remember the steps.  Be prepared for the truck.  Be prepared with utilities and services.  Be prepared to learn.  Don't overload your shop with production delivery dates on new stuff.  And have some fun with your new toys.