Site selection for a plant is an important activity for any project. Careful considerations of various factors keeping in view of the corporate objectives are required for any company. Such considerations will finally make the plant economically and technologically viable and it will contribute towards the environment. Strategic, long-term and non-repetitive sound decisions are required. During the final decision making, a certain degree of imaginative future planning will help to a great extent.
What are the factors for Site Selection?
Most of the time, the industrial development policies of the Government of the country where the plant will be situated dictates the allocation of the site. In addition to that, there are various other factors that need to be considered. A few of such important factors are briefed in the following paragraphs.
Location Factor for Site Selection
The location factor is of utmost importance and requires careful consideration because of its long term consequences. Any mistake during the selection of an appropriate location can be costly. Improper location comes with the following major problems:
- A higher cost means higher investment.
- Difficult marketing and transportation.
- Dissatisfied and frustrated employees and consumers
- Low availability of high caliber professionals.
- Frequent interruptions of production and
- Abnormal wastage.
Also, once a plant is set up at a particular location, it is almost impossible to shift to a better location later because it will again involve numerous economic, political and sociological reasons. Employee welfare, employment opportunities, etc are few of the social reasons whereas, the pursuance of a policy of regional development and planning can be a political reason.
At the same time, The location factor needs the considerations of the following facilities.
This will ensure that the license for locating the plant in a no-industry district is obtained.
Proper transportation facilities with linking with ports and railroads are crucial for the uninterrupted transfer of the raw materials and the end products. Airport-Connection is important for the easy movement of professionals. In case, foreign collaborations are involved in the plant, these points will be more crucial.
Availability of Manpower
Local access to skilled and semi-skilled manpower will add to the efficient construction and operation of the plant.
Sufficient Industrial infrastructure will aid all supporting services required for the successful operation, maintenance and repair of various machines and other items, availability of workshops, plant services, etc. that may not be feasible to be generated within the factory premises. The availability of communication facilities plays an important part of the infrastructure. Existing vibrant infrastructure in the vicinity is much preferred than the need-based infrastructure getting developed after the plant commissioning.
As all the plants of modern time operate on sophisticated technology, it would be necessary to attract qualified professionals. This means, ensuring a good quality living is a must. The availability of good schools and colleges, medical services, good communication facilities, cultural and recreational opportunities, etc will be required. Attracting qualified professionals will be very difficult in the absence of good community infrastructure.
Availability of Raw Water
The plant should be located in close proximity to an adequate quantity of water sources. Water will be required for plant operation and the other non-plant activities. As the groundwater may be depleted at a future date, drawing the water by boring deep tube wells without the provision of a perennial source is not recommended. The Natural Water Table and flooding history need to be duly considered.
The drainage facility for the Effluent disposal must be examined. It would be economic if an effluent disposal facility after treatment is readily available. Otherwise, there may be legal and ecological consequences in transporting the effluent by drainage to a safe disposal area that far away.
Availability of Power
The required amount of uninterrupted and stable power (without fluctuations in voltage and frequency) for the successful operation of the plant is very crucial. The plant cost can be reduced by locating the plant near to power source.
Wind and Seismic Factor
Careful consideration of Prevailing wind direction, Maximum Wind Speed and seismic history for the preferred site must be checked.
Availability of Industrial Gas
Nowadays, Industrial gas is the preferred source of energy for many plants as it is highly efficient and contributes very little towards industrial pollution. Uninterrupted power supply and a gas-based captive steam power generation unit is of great importance. Hence, the nearness of the site to a gas distribution network will be advantageous for long term planning and future expansions.
Size and Nature of the Site for Selection
The plot area, the topography, the township facilities, and future expansions should meet the plant requirements. It is preferred if the grade level of the entire area is the same. In case, the plot area is not flat, it must be leveled to suit the plant requirements. The degree of required leveling and filling should be looked into from economic considerations.
Load-bearing capacity and acidity of the soil play a major role in the selection of the site. Filled soil has got less load-bearing capacity as compared to Natural Soil. As a consequence, the civil foundation will be economic in natural soil because piling to support heavy loads will not be needed whereas in a case filled soil normally piling is required.
Ecology and Pollution
Nowadays, there is a great deal of awareness towards the maintenance of natural ecological balance. Regarding the effect of pollution from specific types of plants, social obligations are to be met. The nature of the site selected should preferably have some advantages to meet these requirements.
The above factors are considered at the time of site selection and the data collected are analyzed, generally by the weight-rating method, in order to finalize the recommendation of the potential site.
In the weight rating method, variable weights are assigned to each factor. Then each site is evaluated on a 0-5 sliding scale for each of these factors. The assignment of points for each site for each factor is obtained by multiplying the rating of the site by the weight of each factor.
The overall site rating is then obtained as the sum of the assigned points for each site. The recommendation will be for the site having a maximum overall rating.