Interior view of a factory building

Factory planning as a science

The VDI 5200 Factory Planning Guideline depicts all steps that can be considered meaningful and necessary according to the current state of science, from the definition of the goal to the successful completion of the project. This makes it an indispensable guide from the very beginning for companies that want and need to optimally design new and renovated production facilities. With the RAMI 4.0 model, scientific factory planning goes one step further.

In the introduction to the 2011 Directive, the authors are astonished that the scientific basis of factory planning originates “mainly from the 1960s and 1970s”. The new document was long overdue in view of the rapidly changing demands on industrial production, such as the ever increasing number of markets to serve and the accelerated obsoleteness of technology and products. Other drivers of change would also have to include rising energy costs, environmental protection issues and efforts to humanise the world of work.
Today scientific factory planning tries to take these complex requirements into account. Its main items are the building planning, the production layout, the planning of supply and disposal including the material flow planning as well as the linking of production plants with each other as well as with upstream and downstream process stages.

“Never start with a machine layout and a building design when building a new factory or changing an existing one, and resist the pressure to quote costs early. Instead, retire to a forest hotel with the management and spend a whole day thinking about what you want to achieve with the project from a strategic perspective. The subsequent steps then inevitably follow (…). ”
– from: Handbuch Fabrikplanung, Preface to the 2nd edition, Hanser Verlag December 2014

Production process as the centre of focus

In line with the scientific approach, factories are understood as an overall system with the production process as the focal point. All other processes and functions are related to it. Therefore, first and foremost, the main goals are efficient, economically organised production and production flows while further main goals are humane working conditions, the optimal use of surface area and space as well as high flexibility of the buildings, plants and facilities.

Structured planning model

In order to achieve these goals, the “VDI 5200” designs a structured, eight-phase planning model: Phase 1 describes the procedure for target determination. Here, the company and project goals are determined, evaluation criteria defined and work packages defined. Phase 2 serves to determine the fundamentals, i.e. the procurement and evaluation of required information.
Concept planning takes place in Phase 3. Important here is the difference between ideal planning and real planning – ideal planning should be based on existing work plans and should be performed without regard to the supposed or actual feasibility. It can thus provide important impulses and ideas for the subsequent real planning.
The 4th phase deals with detailed planning. Approval applications and service descriptions are created here. Phases 5 and 6 describe the preparation and monitoring of the project realisation, the 7th and 8th phase deal with the supervision of the start-up and ramp-up of the new production facility as well as the final evaluation of the project.
During planning, all phases are run one after the other and sometimes also repeatedly. Each phase ends with a milestone for which its findings must be extant. In parallel, the VDI 5200 describes the accompanying organisational activities of the project management, as well as the services of the architects according to HOAI Art. 15.
There are numerous practical software solutions for compliant factory planning that can be used for virtual and 3D planning. On the screen, it is easy to see what effects layout changes have on logistical loads and much more.

Industry 4.0

The designation Industry 4.0 is associated with the reinvention of the factory. In the completely digitised manufacturing facility, the previously functionally determined organisation is to be replaced by a process-oriented one in which people and machines as well as machines communicate with one another and with the products to be manufactured. Promises include reducing inventory, manufacturing and logistics costs by up to 40 percent and maintenance by up to 30 percent.
Among other things, the concept for factory planning means that the VDI Planning Guideline must be supplemented. For this purpose, the Zentralverband Elektrotechnik u. Elektronik eV (ZVEI) claims initial success in achieving standardisation of Industry 4.0: “The first presentation of a Reference Architecture for Industry 4.0 (RAMI 4.0) and the Industry 4.0 components which specifically describe an Industry 4.0-capable production object have been developed. The reference architecture model allows the gradual migration from today’s to the Industry 4.0 world.”
The VDI Guideline 5200 will not be made obsolete by the new model. Rather, it will be expanded, thus serving as the basis for systematic planning in the future.
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