January 17, 2011

Distribution Centre Operations Start-up: 3

Filed under: supplyline — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 8:43 pm

Your conceptual designs will give you: how large a building you need, the materials handling methodologies and equipment you’ll employ, and the size and main features of the site. Now it’s time to turn these conceptual designs into reality.

I’m going to assume you have already successfully presented the business case for your new Distribution Centre (DC) and have obtained business and financial approval to proceed.

In getting project approval you’ll have examined all the potential locations for your facility and using a number of criteria you’ll have chosen the site that best matches your business needs. This choice of site will very likely give you the developer you’ll be working with and perhaps the main building contractor too. You can also develop a proposal and use it to help you differentiate and choose between potential contractors. The partnerships with your developer and main contractor, and your working relationships with them, will go a long way towards defining the success of your project.

Inherent in your choice of site is how to situate the building(s) on the plot of land, the overall site design and the placement of expansion areas.

Your architect will work with the contractor to produce structural, mechanical and electrical drawings which will be used to tender for the construction work and to obtain the permits you’ll need before you can proceed with construction.

Your own team should undertake a detailed review of the drawings before you give your final sign off. As soon as the permits are obtained and the construction partners are chosen the construction work can begin.

Make sure that you’ve given firm guidance on the specifications for items such as column spacing, the warehouse floor, electrical, refrigeration and insulation values, docks and dock equipment, grading, the roof, offices and computer rooms, employee facilities, site and building security, energy management systems, emergency power supply, ceiling heights, fire prevention, heating and ventilation (HVAC) and yard paving.

How long the construction phase lasts will depend on: how much has already been done to load the land and prepare it for construction, the order lead-time for major build components, the season you’re starting to build in, the weather you encounter and other items along the way.

Your project manager should work closely with everyone to ensure that the project is delivered on time, on budget and to the agreed specifications.

If you’ve engaged a company to audit the construction process and specifications your project manager should spend time with them to review the materials they produce. As each construction phase is completed a list of deficiencies will be produced and resolved and payment can be made. As you sign off your acceptance make sure you’ve covered off all the deficiencies and the finished building meets with the approval of your operations groups.

Before operating in the facility you’ll need to obtain the occupancy permit.

While construction is happening you’ll be working in parallel on the many other aspects needed to successfully open and operate your new DC, I’ll tell you more about these in subsequent articles.