Moving parts: Managing industrial site’s flow takes blend of analysis, insight

For more information about how Hanson’s analytical services can help your site, contact Dave Thomson at

Understanding how to efficiently handle the multitude of in-and-out traffic and products for an industrial site can be a challenge. There are many aspects to consider — employee access and security, inbound and outbound truck control, loading and unloading products from different transportation vehicles (truck, barge, railcar, etc.) and storing raw and finished products. And balancing all of this to ensure the industrial processes’ production capabilities are maintained can be difficult. This is true for greenfield sites, but doubly true for owners of industrial plants who are looking to expand.

Understanding the production volumes, buffer stock requirements, transportation and vendor service levels, regulatory criteria and safety considerations are all critical. A failure to properly balance these disparate items results in inefficiencies, added costs and bottlenecks to the industrial plant’s profitability. A failure to advance new knowledge in process flows and material handling can also create unintended costs and workarounds to existing conditions.

Hanson pursues a method of developing material handling, transportation and storage infrastructure arrangements that uses analysis techniques that include marrying Six Sigma, Lean, process, inventory control and transportation operational design parameters. We worked in a 75-year-old industrial plant that had expanded for decades. When we analyzed the inbound and outbound material volumes and internal movement of trucks and railcars, we developed new routing, minor modifications to the road and rail infrastructure and operational processes that reduced two switch crews per day and decreased truck dwell time to under an hour. These changes had a four-month payback and permanently reduced the plant’s ongoing operational costs.

The combination of these analytical tools, operational insights and adherence to stringent safety considerations are integrated in developing solutions for what can be highly complex situations.