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System Cutover Tips

How to Prepare for a Weekend Cutover

Matt Kuper | 15 May 2014

Now that your new material handling system is designed, it’s time to get it installed and working properly. The trick is to complete the switch from your old system to your new one with as little downtime as possible.

[caption id="attachment_9445" align="aligncenter" width="590"] To get from design to installation, you have to prepare for the cutover period.[/caption] A weekend cutover is one of the most stressful installation times for integrators and customers alike. As an integrator, the focus is primarily placed on the mechanics of making the changes happen in the allotted time frame. The execution team spends countless hours confirming the engineering, material deliveries, controls solutions, mechanical and electrical installers, and onsite support. With all the focus on the task at hand, sometimes the larger picture with the customer can be obstructed. The customer’s expectation and understanding of the scope is imperative to making the cutover a success. It is critical to ensure the customer is preparing with the same methodology as the integrator’s execution team. To ensure a seamless cutover from a previous system to a new one, there are some items to consider during the project planning phase. Below are four key planning points for a successful material handling system cutover.

1. Downtime Expectation

Typical weekend cutovers involve trying to complete more work than the allotted time will allow. Therefore, it is imperative to plan for as much down time as possible. Some ways to increase the planned down time include:
  • Run longer shifts during the preceding week to reduce the volume on the last day prior to the shutdown.
  • Adjust shipment expectations to the end customers in advance.
  • Delay the production shift start time on the day following the cutover.

2. Weekend Coverage

As the system becomes operational and testing ensues, it’s common for the material handling integrator to have plenty of staff on site; however, it is also critical for the customer to provide the proper support team. This team should not only consist of maintenance personnel, but also additional support staff including IT, operations, and the project manager. Having these personnel on site and ready to assist as the system is coming on-line can save valuable time when their expertise is required.

3. System Testing

Any disruption to the customer’s current system will have the tendency to cause unforeseen challenges with the existing software and PLC program. The time allocated in the schedule to testing during the weekend can decrease as installation challenges arise. With time being at a premium, the integrator and customer should work together to have a testing plan already in place prior to the start of installation. This can help confirm operation of the system in a reduced time.

4. Contingency Plans

With all weekend cutovers, there are risks that might delay the go-live of the system. In order to be prepared, it is wise to have a production contingency plan if the startup of the system is later than planned. This contingency plan can vary depending on the complexity of the project, but it is critical to have it in place prior to the start of the project. Weekend cutovers are notoriously stressful, but with good planning and preparation, they are successful. Just remember it takes planning from all parties involved including the integrator’s execution team and the customer’s team. The more everyone works together and communicates, the more successful the cutover will be.

Author: Matt Kuper

Matt Kuper has more than 16 years of experience in the material handling industry handling a variety of systems projects and technologies including high-speed sortation, pick modules, goods-to-person, and pallet handling systems. He joined Bastian Solutions in 2013 and has since overseen some of the company’s largest and most complex integration projects. 

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