Germany: Relocation to new plant was a precise operation
When Norden assisted Lavera Naturkosmetik in dismantling their entire operation and moving the tube filling and tray packing lines to a new location, the most important thing was to have a strategy on how to minimize challenges.
New factory a leap forward
While companies with production in several countries might move individual machines or one line from one location to another, it’s not often that you see an entire manufacturing setup pick up stakes and move wholesale to a new location. But that’s exactly what German cosmetics manufacturer Lavera did. Why did they do it? They were out of space in their old facility and were restricted by ceiling height and a number of other factors, such as no climate control requirements.
These and other factors led to Lavera building a completely new factory about 2 km away from the old location, a factory that gave them the space they needed, and which included all the elements that were missing in their old space.
“Lavera has been a Norden customer for around 15-years,” says the Norden project manager. “They were transferring everything to the new site and at first they were going to do it themselves, but they came to realize that a lot of knowledge was needed to do this, particularly when it came to the robots. From Norden we know our machines inside and out, so they brought us in to take care of things.”
A precise operation
Lavera had to stop production for a period – roughly 2-3 weeks break on each line – in order to make the move so they had a detailed plan in place that stated the exact date for each machine to be moved, so the Norden team had to work within those dates so that the machines would be up and running as quickly as possible in order to supply the market. Additionally, Lavera ran extra shifts prior to the move so that they had extra stock on hand.
“Lavera planned for a long time and we came in with a rough plan on how long we expected the move to take,” says Norden’s project manager. “We also had a point person who acted as the clearinghouse for all communications and information, so that everything was addressed. We had a direct contact with the transport company’s team leader to make sure all communication was clear. This was a precision operation.”
Norden was just part of the process, though, because Lavera has a lot of machines and lines doing different things. And because they were moving so many machines there was no way they could move everything in one shot, so the entire operation was very involved and took nearly a year in order to ensure everything went smoothly.
Moving six tube filling lines
The factory move was divided into different pieces. When it came to the tube filling machines, Lavera had six lines – four smaller ones and two big, more complex ones. And because this was a fully operational factory, they weren’t able to shut down production, so the plan was to move the lines gradually, losing as little uptime as possible.
Norden first went into the old factory and shut down the line in a controlled manner, securing everything with backup control systems in order to ensure nothing was lost during the move. The lines had to be disassembled, which was a complex task, due to a lot of parts and many different components that couldn’t be shipped whole and that needed to be disassembled in a controlled and correct way.
“In order to secure the disassembly, we had to be very organized because of the number of components – up to 40 on one of the bigger lines – so the first thing we did was label everything,” says Norden’s project manager. Basically, we had to very logical in order to make sure everything was done in the right order, which ensured we had minimal downtime.”
Norden was responsible for the disassembling of the machines, after which a well-known German machine moving company took over, picking up everything the Norden team had prepared and transporting it to the new site. To make sure things went smoothly, there was a lot of cooperation and synchronization with the moving company – no one wanted things delivered in the wrong order. At the new site, which was newly built and therefore a completely new facility, Norden’s team measured the locations for all the lines to make sure they were in exactly the right spot.
At the new facility, the Norden team needed to make sure everything was reassembled in the right way so that it is quickly operational, but in order to do this the customer needed to make sure other things are in place, such as electricity.
“We were quite lucky, though, because our machines are almost always at the start of the line – Norden machines fill the tubes and place them in trays. The product then move on to other parts of the manufacturing process. But this also puts a lot of pressure on us because we need to make sure the machines are exactly in the right place and everything is aligned, because once all the lines are ready to go, they are 40 or 50 meters long, so if we don’t get it right there is a domino effect on the rest of the setup.”
Additionally, all of the Norden lines contained at least one industrial robot and there are special procedures for fixing them into place in the floors, which it another challenge to correctly drill in order to fix the robots to the floor.
Norden doesn’t often get a request to help move an entire factory – more often a customer will disassemble a machine and then ask Norden to reassemble.
“This can be a challenge, because the customer may not realize the importance of a controlled disassembly,” says Norden project manager. The bottom line is that if someone needs this service, we are able to do it. We have the know-how to disassemble in a quick and correct way, we can advise on how to pack things, and we can reassemble in the new location and we’re able to do all of this in the least disruptive way possible.”
When Norden summarized the project with the customer, the team had delivered on time, everything was well-planned together with the customer, and they had the right people and the right number of people on the team. There was only one small hiccup – minor damage to an electrical component that was the responsibility of the moving company and which cost around €200 to replace.
“In order to be successful with this kind of operation you need to make sure everyone is on the same page and that there is one central point of contact,” says the project manager.
“It’s all about planning, cooperation, integration of various plans from the different players (Norden, the customer, the transport company, the builders of the new facility). In the end, it feels really good when everything goes according to plan and that the customer is happy and got everything up and running on time.”