When it comes to doing business, it is always about speed, agility, efficiency, and to be able to market the product as soon as possible with minimum cost. These criteria make the standardization a necessity and more and more, you are seeing copycat facilities popping up all around the world. Although the copycat designs shorten the design stage almost to nothing and the assembly process becomes way faster since the teams are getting used to constructing the same buildings over and over again, they get so experienced as if they could do the whole project blindfolded. Yet standardization has its own gaps to watch out for.
I have never heard of a term “over-standardization” which can be described as cloning a facility in a way that even the number of screws you use are the same. This, as I have described above, could bring some advantages but it brings many disadvantages as well. A design made for a certain climate and zone will not always be compatible with a different climate or a zone.
As I have written in my previous blogs, I am travelling around the world, ad to many different locations with different challenges. And I come across to those types of identical facilities, built all around the world. They are either in extreme winter locations or in the heart of a monsoon climate with almost desert heats at the peak summer seasons. And you observe and hear about the difficulties as you walk through those locations.
To give an example, let`s assume that you have a warehouse full of your products. To keep them getting damaged during a fire, you install a protection system. Also, to detect the fire as early as possible, you also install a detection system. Since your warehouse is in an earthquake free place with a mild climate and with no hard-blowing winds to shake, you decide to install a laser beam system. The system works well and you experience no problems.
To protect your products even more, you also install some smoke exhaust vents on top of the roof. Those vents open automatically when the laser beam activates the alarms. And this again, works well and you are having no issues at all.
Then, you decide to expand your operation to another location. And since you are very happy with the way you operate in your warehouse, you decide to install the exact same systems, or you “clone” your warehouse into the second location. And the nightmare begins…
It is what happens most of the time since all around the world, organisations still do not extensively apply change management, use risk analysis and prefer to rush in a hurry. In the example above, which is a real-life story, two other places received those clones. One is in a very cold climate that hits -40 ° C in the winters and have strong winds. The building is vibrating with the wind, which activates the laser beams. The vents open immediately, making them almost impossible to close again and too many efforts are needed to start the operation back again. The other place that received a clone is 55 ° C during the summers and with the one little problem again not thought about, sand storms. During the sand storms, keeping the sand getting inside is almost impossible and once the sand is in, it uses the system`s design to invite more sands into the facility. Every time I am there, I always think about the drama of Troy, the city that cannot be conquered by force but a with the help of the Trojan horse and some small number of solider that opened the gates. The small amount of the sand is activating the laser beams and the vents are opening for countless to enter and turn everything into chaos.
So, standardization is good, but it must be supported with change management, design by safety, risk analysis, and many necessary tools. Do not just copy everything, leave a room for adaptations and changes.