The Importance of Good Shop Layout By Richard S. Budzik originally appeared in SNIPS Magazine.

With today’s high wages, every employee must be kept working as efficiently as possible. Having an efficient shop layout helps you and your employees to work more efficiently. The purpose of this article is to point out positive ways to make improvements in your shop production. This means making your ductwork as quickly and as cheaply as possible; it does not necessarily mean investing a lot of money in new equipment. However, after you analyze your operations, you might find that purchasing some new equipment and reassessing your shop layout are the best ways to increase your production.

Shop Layout Problems

A shop layout problem does not always involve the entire shop. After analyzing a specific current problem, you might decide that its solution only requires one of the following: 

  • Coil Line Rectangular 3An enlarged work area for a specific operation.
  • A smaller work area for a specific operation.
  • A relocated work area for a specific operation.
  • A new operation work area.
  • An entirely new shop layout.
  • An entirely new facility or building.

Maybe it is necessary to relocate only some of the equipment in your shop. Examples are relocating a machine or a bench, adding a few electrical outlets, removing a wall or opening up a wall as a doorway. 

When you purchase a new machine, it is sometimes placed anywhere there is space available in the shop, with the good intention of later really “setting up the shop.” But as the months go by, somehow this just never gets done.

An Efficient Shop Layout

Very few sheet metal shops are built to a contractor’s specifications. In most cases, a building is adapted to meet his needs as well as possible. There are a variety of efficient shop layouts, depending on the characteristics of the building you are located in. Basic examples of efficient shop layouts for different sizes of shops are shown in this article. Many of the sheet metal manufactures also provide shop layout services. 

A proper shop layout should result in producing the largest amount of work with the least amount of time, taking into account the machinery you have available.  For maximum efficiency in shop production, you must do all the operations in their proper sequence. The main idea is to eliminate unnecessary movements, keeping the amount of footsteps you and your employees must take to a minimum. Remember: wasted space and wasted time are wasted money. 

By having your shop set up in a logical manner, it sets a good example. It sets forth in the minds of your employees that you are concerned with the amount of time that can be saved. Both the employees and the owner benefit from time being saved.

Take a Shop Inspection Tour 

Take a physical inspection tour of your shop. Jot down some notes of items that need improvement, changes or additions, or even the possible removal of out-dated, broken and never-used machinery and equipment. 

Having a specific place for everything can save time and money. This includes a variety of hand tools, electric drills, unishears, drill bits, and all hardware such as nuts, bolts, hinges, sheet metal screws, rivets, and damper hardware. This way everyone knows where to look when they need a specific item, and does not have to go around asking others where it is.

Items to Keep in Mind When Making the Shop Inspection Tour:

  1. Is there wasted movement that you can economically avoid?
  2. Is there something you can do to remove a hazard or to improve safety?
  3. Is there unused space that you can put to good use?
  4. Is there anything not being used that you can dispose of?