How large does the building need to be to fit a diaper factory? Well, that depends on the required diaper output and the size of the machine you plan to buy. A “Home Garage” diaper machine will fit, as you guessed, in your own home garage. You only need to park your car somewhere else. Before you move your car, first think carefully if this is the right machine for your market. It is probably not the right choice if any of the big companies are already in your territory, selling their brands, specially if they have a significant market share – i.e. market penetration of twenty percent or more. The simple rule is that the higher the existing market penetration, the lower is the probability of you succeeding with your “Home Garage” machine.
Let us assume that you are looking for a large size diaper machine, something between 200 to 600 diapers per minute. For this typical diaper machine, the length of the diaper line can be expected to be in the range of 20 to 50 meters (60 to 150 feet), including the packaging equipment. There are several issues that affect the total length of a baby diaper machine, like the required features in your diaper design and whether or not you want to have all the equipment installed in a straight line. One alternative is to have some machine modules placed at 90 degrees or on a second level, accessible from the operator side. For example, the backsheet un-winder, the carrier un-winder, the frontal tape system, or the elastic waist applicator. Adding diaper machine modules at 90o allows for the total length to be reduced, though the width of the machine will increase. If the machine is to be installed in a straight line, you will probably need an area of 30 to 60 meters in length and 8 meters in width. If the machine is to be installed with several modules at 90 degrees, than you may be able to reduce the total length to about 4/5th of the original size, but then the width will have to be increased from 8 to 10 or 11 meters.
We have talked only about the space requirement for the diaper machine itself; there are other areas that require plenty of space. Raw materials’ and finished products’ warehouses will be required, in tune with the expected inventory levels. For example, if you plan to have only one mid size diaper machine (200 to 400 diapers per minute), you may be OK with about 1,000 square meters of space. However your inventory will then have to be limited to less than a week’s raw materials and finished goods. In some locations, it is possible to operate just in time, specially if the suppliers have their own inventories close by. In that case, it may be possible to operate with less than a week’s inventory of raw materials. Other locations may require as much as a month’s inventory due to complicated logistics or customs’ regulations, which involve bringing raw materials from far away places. Another important factor to take into account is the required changes in diaper size on the machine itself; the higher the inventory of finished products you hold, the lower will be the need for machine stoppages for size change (example: from large to newborn); on the other hand, working capital requirements go up. All diaper companies must consider working capital requirements. Some part of working capital is indeed met by credits from raw material suppliers but a new company starting from scratch, without commercial references, is unlikely to get any credit from the suppliers, at least in the beginning. You need to look at costs and benefits to decide the optimal size for your warehouse, based on your financial situation and ability to buy materials on credit. Finally, you will also have to take into account space for office, spare parts storage, quality control laboratory, training room and the required space for the trucks to manoeuvre, besides space for peripheral equipment (dryers, compressor, dust collector, scrap collector, machine shop room, etc.).
Don’t waste time on expensive trial and error, trying to figure out what will be the best requirements for your new diaper factory. We can help you answer all of your questions. A few hours of consulting time may be more than enough to provide you with the basic guidelines in order to help you decide your building layout and other requirements. At Richer Investment we have helped many new diaper factories, take advantage of our 27 years experience in this industry.