The equipment layout for your distillery is a crucial, yet often overlooked, success factor. It isn’t just a matter of compliance and regulations; how you structure your equipment can lead to better production yields. And that means more distribution opportunities, more brand believers, and more profits.
Step One: Budgeting
Before you do anything, you must understand your budget and have a concrete plan in place. If this is your first time creating a distillery equipment layout, you're about to have a lot of equipment costs and permit fees hitting your accounts.
The adage of preparing for the worst is critical and you want plenty of room in your budget to cover any unexpected costs that creep up.
Step Two: Planning
Having a plan in place will prepare you for these high costs and allow you to schedule each step of the process, including meetings with regulators and inspectors.
A plan also ensures that you're going to use every inch of your available space in the most logical way. Laying out your equipment is a highly strategic endeavor that requires planning, drawing, measuring, and so on.
Rarely do managers find themselves with too much space. Too little space is a common problem. Managing every inch of your space is a concern your plan needs to cover.
Step Three: Layout
As you begin planning where your equipment will fit, you need to consider your process for designing the layout. It isn't just a matter of placing material where it physically fits in your space. Instead, it needs to fit your distilling, distributing, warehousing processes.
You don't want to be transporting unwashed mash through your stilling equipment because your wash backs are on the opposite side of the distillery. Well, you also don’t want to be needlessly carrying materials from one side of the distillery to the other.
Your process will help you design your layout. Every piece of equipment placed needs to align with your entire production, from end to end. This will improve your output and efficiency while limiting wasted resources.
Step Four: Foot Traffic
Your equipment layout needs to consider human foot traffic. You want distillery workers to be able to move efficiently and safely across the floor. Thus, you need to structure your layout to allow this.
You want to have a central track that will serve as your distillery's primary highway. This is where forklifts and other machines will travel. It always needs to be kept clear of obstacles.
You can maintain smaller roadways in various parts of your distillery where foot and machine traffic is more limited.
Remember, saving time is a crucial element of efficiency. It shouldn't take long for workers or materials to be transported from A to B.
Step Five: Regulatory Concerns
Regulations may handcuff your dream distillery layout. There are specific rules and standards for how plumbing, electrical elements, and ventilation needs to be carried out.
This may impact your equipment layout planning dramatically. So, be sure to involve the building, fire and health departments, and the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax And Trade Bureau) early on in the process to limit the number of surprises.
You’ll need their collective approvals before you can open for business anyway.
Step Six: Consider Maintenance
Another concern when structuring your equipment layout is maintenance. You want your equipment to be kept clean and in perfect working order. Maintaining this level of order is difficult for some distilleries.
If you design your equipment layout without considering maintenance and cleaning, you may find yourself squeezing into a too-small space trying to dust and clean equipment or reach a control box.
Once you’ve designed your layout, you want to be sure that it is working effectively. A distillery management solution like OnBatch can be a great tool that monitors how efficient your distillery is operating.
Finding small ways to adjust your equipment layout and improve distillery efficiency is key to growing your business and achieving success.