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How can business owners better approach shop layout?

Answer

Before you move a piece of paper, a machine, or a tool, you must spend time studying how production flows. Watch each step of the process. If the shop has employees, talk to each one about their jobs and tasks. Find out how a different setup would make things easier or more efficient for them. Watching the workflow will help you to pinpoint areas where the current configuration is not ideal, and operator suggestions can contribute to new layout ideas. 

The next step is to plan the arrangements. It is often helpful to designate an area of the shop for each process that goes into a finished item. The area where items for decoration are received should be near the dock or delivery entrance. Depending on the decoration disciplines your shop offers, there might be stations for prepping garments, creating artwork, or setting up machines for decoration. There should also be an area for finishing work, as well as an area for counting, packing, and shipping. Different decoration disciplines will require different workstations. If you've done your homework and observed the process, it should be easy to figure out where those areas will be. 

Another thing to pay attention to when planning the arrangement is to make sure that all necessary supplies and tools are adjacent to the appropriate equipment. Walking across the shop to retrieve something, or prepping garments across the room from the proper equipment is a waste of production time. The goal is an efficient workflow, which means items to be decorated should flow seamlessly from one area to the next. The goal is to minimize the unproductive time in the shop. Being aware of the production workflow and designing the shop layout to fit that workflow will provide increased production and limit the amount of time waster. 

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