What Capacity Does My Plant Need?
I often receive RFQ’s for new extrusion plants. This, aside from a business card or an email, is the first step in the process of acquiring a new plant. After the initial inquiry, I send a survey form to the customer so they can better explain their needs. I find that often times the requests are for more hourly capacity than necessary. Let’s look at an example:
Mr. Jones wants to produce 640 tons of product per month. He calculates that he will run 8 hours a day, 4 tons per hour and 20 days per month. His capacity determination is correct; however it is not the most efficient way to meet his monthly demand of 640 tons of product. I would challenge Mr. Jones to consider running a 2 ton per hour plant 16 hours a day and 20 days a month. In this scenario, he will also produce 640 tons of product, so if Mr. Jones can set up his business to run 16 hours per day, he can reduce his initial investment significantly.
He also has built-in extra capacity. In our scenario, he only works 20 days a month, so only about 2/3 of the time (30 days in a month). If he needs more product in a certain month, he can increase his running days and if necessary, his hours. The 2 ton per hour extrusion line can run 24 hours a day, 26 days a month. This gives Mr. Jones a max capacity of 1248 tons per month.
Thinking about capacity is also important when you plan for the future. If you are going to start with a 2 ton per hour plant, but you envision expanding to 4 ton per hour in the near future, you may want to consider sourcing larger hammermills, augers and coolers from the start, because the incremental cost is minimal compared buying a complete second unit. The good news is that Insta-Pro extrusion lines are modular, so they fit very well into expansion plans and can easily be added as your business grows.
What Mr. Jones’ example teaches us is the importance of good communication with the equipment sales person. They can work with you to determine the best approach for your vision, and offer different solutions to fit within your budget. Also, even though you might be set on a certain capacity, listen to alternative solutions that you might not have previously considered.