If a company wants to relocate a production system, an assembly line, or even an entire plant, a complex task awaits them and their chosen partner for global industrial installations. Perfect planning down to the last detail and professional implementation are therefore essential – and the following 11 steps apply to you.
Step 1: Preparation – good planning is half the battle
If you consider every step and every aspect in advance, you can avoid a lot of fundamental challenges in the actual implementation. You should therefore look for an experienced partner for industrial installation, who can take on the project management as a general contractor and take full responsibility for planning. Such a partner will advise you at every step of a relocation, draw up the schedule together with you, and take account of your needs and requirements.
They will then take on the entire project management – including the use of service providers in areas such as packaging, the logistics chain, cleaning, or when using the manufacturer’s own installers. Your partner will discuss interfaces in the process to clarify which tasks they are responsible for and what contribution your company needs to make. A vital element of all relocation projects is getting suitable insurance coverage and clarifying matters of liability. The more tasks a partner takes on, the fewer interfaces there are for you, even with such a complex project.
Tip: Have the manufacturer inspect your system at this stage to see if any components could be replaced or optimized. The system is being dismantled anyway – it would be wise to perform any desired modifications or a retrofit when it is reassembled. It may also make sense to do a full clean and repaint if a system is being dismantled into individual components.
Step 2: Dismantling – doing the job right, on site
During dismantling, the system is disassembled, but only to the extent necessary to make it easier to transport. All components are marked and documented in the process. For international relocations, please ensure that the customs formalities are dealt with at an early stage. As the owner of the system, you are responsible in all cases for legally compliant export and import into the country of destination.
It is not possible for a service provider to take on this responsibility and communicate with the customs authorities on your behalf. However, a reliable partner will advise you on all matters of customs clearance and will share their experience from other projects. After dismantling, the components will be packaged expertly. Depending on the destination, packaging may be very time-consuming; for sea transport, for example, there are significant requirements in relation to preservation and securing of cargo.
Step 3: Transportation – the journey begins
All components are now loaded onto suitable transportation vehicles and leave your business premises. Transportation may take place by ship, train, or plane, depending on country, destination, and infrastructure. Here too, precise notes are made digitally – and often in the cloud – as to which parts of the system are loaded on which truck or in which container. The machines may be headed for the final installation location, or they could be on their way to a storage location. This always depends on the situation on site and the optimal schedule for your project.
Step 4: Move-in to the new home
The system and its individual components are unloaded on site and positioned in the new location. During the planning phase, the general contractor will have already checked and ensured, for example, that the floor has sufficient load-bearing capacity, the floor has been leveled, and the passage to the location is sufficiently high and wide. After the system is brought into position, it is prepared for the subsequent tasks.
Step 5: Fine adjustment – precision work for professionals
Now it is time for the individual components and the system as a whole to be aligned with the necessary precision, and fine adjustment begins. When we say “fine,” we mean really fine – industrial installation professionals work to two-hundredths of a millimeter accuracy to ensure that the subsequent operation of the system is stable and reliable. All the media lines within the system, all attachments, and all peripheral systems also undergo both electrical and mechanical installation at this stage and are positioned relative to one another and prepared for commissioning.
Step 6: System electronics – the system comes back to life
Mechanical and electrical commissioning of the system is a crucial moment. Depending on the previously agreed interfaces, either the customer or the installation partner is responsible for organizing this. Even when this is your responsibility, a reliable installation partner will take on the coordination and communication with all the companies involved.
The programmable logic controller (PLC) for the system is also reactivated at this point. Data that has previously been backed up will be loaded in again and optimized by the manufacturer itself or by the general contractor. Finally, there is the input/output (I/O) check, where the system is “run empty” to check that all light barriers, initiators, limit switches, and other control elements are working correctly.
Step 7: Commissioning – a new start at the new site
After commissioning, a detailed acceptance report is drawn up, for which at least the general contractor and your company, and possibly also the system manufacturer, are present on site. As part of this, the full scope of services is accepted and accurately recorded. Once the functionality of the system and any optimizations are assured, production at the new site can be started up.
Step 8: Service – technical support throughout the lifecycle
It may sound obvious, but we recommend that you continue to ensure your system is serviced, maintained, and repaired in line with the specifications once it is in your new premises. You should also regularly check with the manufacturer whether your existing system could benefit from retrofitting or upgrading. There is often significant potential for increased efficiency – which means more revenue for you.
Step 9: Automation – now is the time
In the age of digitalization, automating your systems can be crucial for your competitive advantage. Professional engineering partners can convert even relatively old systems for automation.
Step 10: Service to retain value
A traditional servicing by the manufacturer or your own in-house maintenance team should also be agreed and organized at the new location. Keep frequently needed spare parts in stock so that in the worst case scenario, the machine will only be down for a short time.
Step 11: Safety through testing and certification
Will your system need a new safety test or certification after its relocation? Clarify this aspect with the manufacturer and the relevant local authorities to see, for example, if a new accident-prevention-regulations inspection or CE certification is required.
When a system is relocated, it is often also necessary to acquire additional safety equipment and integrate it into the system to comply with new requirements, since any previous grandfathering exemptions no longer apply. This is a key point that you must check before relocating, so that you don’t get a nasty surprise at the new site or even lose your operating license entirely.
Tip: Appoint a general contractor
The relocation of a production system or an entire plant is a complex project with lots of intermeshed gears, requiring countless aspects to be thought of and coordinated. We therefore recommend appointing a general contractor such as SCHOLPP in order to minimize the number of interfaces between the individual steps.
This creates optimal synergies during planning and on the construction site, and provides clarity as to who is authorized to carry out the various trades. The issue of occupational safety is also consistently clarified and organized for all trades involved. Furthermore, a general contractor is liable for transportation-related damages relevant to an insurance claim – given the high value of a system with regard to a company, this is one of the many advantages of appointing a general contractor.
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