Smith McDonald Corporation

Facility Relocation


  • Detailed layouts of the new facility completed within two weeks
  • 15% decrease in typical material handling distance within the new facility
  • $175,000 savings in lease payments
  • Developed quantitative measuring process to ensure production cost and consistent product quality


Smith McDonald Corporation (Smith McDonald) is a manufacturer and distributor of the world's broadest offering of metal and leather office accessories, including desk pads, waste receptacles, planters and many other products for executive office suites. The 20 person company, comprised of the former Smith Metal Arts and McDonald Products companies, has been a pioneer in the design and production of desk and office accessories for the contract furniture market for over a century. To this day, Smith McDonald is considered to be the pre-eminent manufacturer of these products by leading architects and designers worldwide.


A transfer of the company's ownership led to the decision to relocate the manufacturing operations from leased space in Cheektowaga, NY into the new owner's facility in Buffalo. It was critical to complete this relocation within two months due to the expiration of the lease at the old facility. In addition, it was also important to complete the move without adversely affecting ongoing operations in manufacturing and shipping of customer orders. The situation was further exacerbated due to the unavailability of current engineering drawings at either facility. Because of limited internal resources and the tight time constraints, Smith McDonald hired Insyte Consulting to support this expeditious relocation of the business.


The joint team of Insyte Consulting and Smith McDonald personnel focused on several key initiatives to accomplish the above objectives. The first step was to field check the measurements of all current equipment including production machinery, processing equipment, storage racking, material handling equipment and ancillary support materials. Similarly a field checking exercise was completed at the new facility; this included building measurements, column and utility locations, stairwells and all interior rooms. Subsequently AutoCAD templates were developed for all of the existing equipment as well as the drawings of the new facility.

Once these measurements were verified and entered into AutoCAD, an analysis of current product families, routings and projected volumes was completed. This information provided the basis for developing alternative layouts that could be evaluated with Smith McDonald personnel to minimize the inherent wastes within the current manufacturing process and provide improved work flow within the eventual selected layout. The improved work flow and manufacturing processes would be supported through the implementation of various lean manufacturing techniques including 5S/ workplace organization, pull/ Kanban, visual controls and cellular manufacturing. Finally, the joint team selected and detailed the agreed upon layout to support the relocation and installation process. This information was then provided to the appropriate construction, utility and rigging contractors.

Detailed layouts of the new facility were completed within two weeks. Smith McDonald successfully transitioned into their new facility within the time frame established by their existing lease, with minimal disruption to customer orders and manufacturing operations. This was a result of using a team-oriented process that led to greater communication, a smooth transition in re-starting operations and a sense of ownership by front line employees.

The timely move also saved the company $175,000 in lease payments. In addition, the movement of material throughout the facility was refined and there was a 15% decrease in typical material handling distance. Duplicate or dated equipment was eliminated and visual controls were established where appropriate. The company is now well-positioned to profitably expand its business base due to the operational improvements that were introduced.

"Without the timely response of Insyte Consulting's experts, we could not have relocated the operations and set up a good material flow in the allotted time." - Bill Breeser, President