The decision to scale a production process is not one to be taken lightly as it can be a very costly mistake with long-term consequences for your business. Just because a production process works in its current state does not necessarily mean that it will be successful when scaled up on your existing plant. This presents a big risk for your business, your clients, and any investors you have.
The best way to avoid unnecessary complications is to invest in a pilot plant to test and prove your scaled-up production plans will be successful. You may need to make adjustments at every stage of the production process, including the quantities of your raw materials. Here are four reasons to invest in a pilot plant before scaling your production processes.
- Collect key data
One of the main benefits of creating a pilot plant is that you can collect essential data at each stage of the production process. A pilot plant includes instrumentation and sampling points that enables you to work out how to streamline your process to achieve greater efficiency, purer products, reduced waste, and more accurate yield projections. With this information, you can confidently calculate how to scale up your production.
- Test new materials and equipment
When purchasing raw materials for small-scale production, you may have been able to afford higher-quality items. When you need to purchase in higher quantities, those same materials may become too costly when bought in bulk. This means you need to change your raw materials, which can have a significant impact on your production process. It is the same story when you are switching from small-scale to commercial equipment as it is likely to deliver different results. This, in turn, may have an effect on the type and quantity of materials that you use. By testing your new pilot plant design, you can identify any changes that need to be made before launching into full-scale production.
- Produce saleable products
You may be reluctant to invest time and money in a pilot plant because you want to rush your product to the market and feel that this would be an unnecessary delay. In reality, once you have perfected your process, the pilot plant can produce a good number of saleable products that you can use either as samples or start selling to customers straight away.
- It could be repurposed in the future
Another potential reason why a business might avoid investing in a pilot plant is to avoid the expense of something that will only be used for a short period of time. Aside from the fact that a pilot plant delivers a great return on investment in terms of ensuring a smooth and successful scaling process, in many cases, the pilot plant can be used again. Some businesses choose to retire their pilot plant once full production is up and running, but others decide to put it to better use. For example, you could repurpose the pilot plant for future pilot projects, such as launching a new product or improving or changing an existing line.