When a new plant is erected the question of the placement of machinery at different places, the location of stores, inspection cabins, tools room , maintenance wings, plating shops, heating chambers, toilets ,canteens and trollies and other handling equipments and the like receive a priority consideration.
This is so because the efficiency of the production flow depends largely on how well the various machines, production facilities and employee amenties are located in a plant.
In a properly laid out plant , the movement of materials, from the raw material stage to the end product stage, is smooth and rapid: the movement is generally in a forward direction : the material do not crisscross, or go backward and forward for further operations. Moreover, production bottlenecks and delays are few, and materials handling costs are reduced. Such arrangements constitute the subject matter of plant layout.
A good deal of expertise is used by the management to secure a proper layout for new or existing plants. A layout which is good for a processing industry will not be good for a job industry; a layout which is suitable for a small sizesd factory will not be suitable for a giant plant.
But the basic principle governing plant layout are more or less the same.
Moreover, the initial layout is almost never final or permanent. Changes do take place in product design, production method and the size of the plant. Such changes necessitates a revision of the existing plant.
A plant layout can be defined as follows:
"Plant layout refers to the arrangement of physical facilities such as machinery, equipment, furniture etc. with in the factory building in such a manner so as to have quickest flow of material at the lowest cost and with the least amount of handling in processing the product from the receipt of material to the shipment of the finished product."
The subject of plant layout doesnot only covers the initial layout of machines and other facilities but encompasses improvement in, or revision of,the existing layout in the light of subsequent developments in the methods of production.
"The overall objective of plant layout is to design a physical arrangement that most economically meets the required output - quantity and quality." ---Riggs,
"Plant layout ideally involves allocation of space and arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimized. ---J. L. Zundi,
A more simple ,clear and comprehensive definition is given by Knowles and Thomson.
They say that a plant layout involves:
"Planning and arranging manufacturing machinery, equipment, and services for the first time in completely new plants;
The improvements in layouts already in use in order to introduce new methods and improvements in manufacturing procedures."
OBJECTIVES OF A LAYOUT
Any of the following objectives might be achieved through a good layout:
To ensure that work proceeds from one point to another point without any delay
Allow high machine or equipment utilization
Reduce material handling costs
Proper and efficient utilization of available floor space
Reduce hazards to personnel
Utilise labour efficiently
Increase employee morale
Provide enough production capacity.
Provide for volume and product flexibility
Provide ease of supervision and control
Provide for employee safety and health
Allow ease of maintenance
FACTORS INFLUENCING LAYOUT
While deciding for your factory or unit or establishment or store, a small-scale businessman should keep the following factors in mind:
Nature of product: product layout is suitable for uniform products whereas process layout is more appropriate for custom-made products.
Factory building: The nature and size of the building determines the floor space available for layout. While designing the special requirements, e.g. air conditioning, dust control, humidity control etc. must be kept in mind.
Type of machinery: General purpose machines are often arranged as per process layout while special purpose machines are arranged according to product layout
Production process: In assembly line industries, product layout is better. In job order or intermittent manufacturing on the other hand, process layout is desirable.
Repairs and maintenance: machines should be so arranged that adequate space is available between them for movement of equipment and people required for repairing the machines.
Human needs: Adequate arrangement should be made for cloakroom, washroom, lockers, drinking water, toilets and other employee facilities, proper provision should be made for disposal of effluents, if any.
Plant environment: Heat, light, noise, ventilation and other aspects should be duly considered, e.g. paint shops and plating section should be located in another hall so that dangerous fumes can be removed through proper ventilation etc. Adequate safety arrangement should also be made.
Thus, the layout should be conducive to health and safety of employees. It should ensure free and efficient flow of men and materials. Future expansion and diversification may also be considered while planning factory layout.
DYNAMICS OF PLANT LAYOUT
Plant layout is a dynamic rather than a static concept meaning thereby if once done it is not permanent in nature rather improvement or revision in the existing plant layout must be made by keeping a track with development of new machines or equipment, improvements in manufacturing process, changes in materials handling devices etc. But, any revision in layout must be made only when the savings resulting from revision exceed the costs involved in such revision.
Revision in plant layout may become necessary on account of the following reasons:
a) Increase in the output of the existing product
b) Introduction of a new product and diversification
c) Technological advancements in machinery, material, processes, product design, fuel etc.
d) Deficiencies in the layout unnoticed by the layout engineer in the beginning
IMPORTANCE OF LAYOUT
The different objectives of an ideal layout are given below. The advantages are almost same to all the plants, whether they differ in age or whether a plant employs 40 workers or 40,000 it makes no difference .
Some of these advantages are:
Minimum Equipment Investment
Investment on equipment can be minimized by planned machine balance and location, minimum handling distances, by the installation of general purpose machines and by planned machine loading. A good plant layout provides all these advantages.
Economies in Handling
Nearly 30% to 40% of the manufacturing cost is accounted for, by materials handling. Every effort should, therefore, be made to cut down on this cost. Long distance movements should be avoided and specific handling operations must be eliminated. A cynic may say that the cheapest way to handle materials is not to handle them at all. But, in a factory, materials have to be handled; and therefore, it all depends on the layout.
Improved Quality Control
Timely execution of orders will be meaningful when the quality of the output is not below expectations. To ensure quality, inspection should be conducted at different stages of manufacture. An ideal layout provides for inspection to ensure better quality control.
Effective Use of Available Area
Every inch of the plant area is valuable, especially in urban areas. Efforts should therefore be made to make use of the available area by planning the layout properly. Some steps for achieving this end are: location of equipment and services in order that they may perform multiple functions; development of up-to-date work areas and operator job assignments for a full utilization of the labor force.
Minimization of Production Delays
Repeat orders and new customers will be the result of prompt execution of orders. Every management should try to keep to the delivery schedules. Often, the deadline dates for delivery of production orders are a bug-a-boo to the management.
Plant layout is a significant factor in the timely execution of orders. An ideal layout eliminates such causes of delays as shortage of space, long-distance movements of materials, spoiled work and thus contributes to the speedy execution of orders.
Avoidance of Bottlenecks
Bottlenecks refer to any place in a production process where materials tend to pile up or are produced at a speed, less rapid than the previous or subsequent operations. Bottlenecks are caused by inadequate machine capacity, inadequate storage space or low speed on part of the operators. The results of bottlenecks are delays in productions schedules, congestion, accidents and wastage of floor area. All these may be overcome with an efficient layout.
Improved Employee Morale
Employee morale is achieved when workers are cheerful and confident. This state of mental condition is vital to the success of any organization.
Morale depends on:
(a)Better employee facilities;
(c)Reduced number of accidents;
(d)Better working condition;
Plant layout has a bearing on all these.
Better Production Control
Production Control is concerned with the production of the product of the right type, at the right time and at a reasonable cost. A good plant layout is a requisite for good production control and provides the production control officers with a systematic basis upon which to build organization and procedures.
A good plant layout ensures better supervision in two ways:
1.Determining the number of workers to be handled by a supervisor and
2.Enabling the supervisor to get a full view of the entire plant at one glance.
A good plant layout is, therefore, the first step to good supervision.
Improved Utilization of Labor
Labor is paid for every hour it spends in the factory. The efficiency of a management lies in utilizing the time for productive purpose. A good plant layout is one of the factors in effective utilization of labor. It makes possible individual operations, the process and flow of materials handling in such a way that the time of each worker is effectively spent on productive operations.
Avoidance of Unnecessary and Costly Changes
A planned layout avoids frequent changes which are difficult and costly. The incorporation of flexibility elements in the layout would help in the avoidance of revisions.
APPLICABILITY OF PLANT LAYOUT
Plant layout is applicable to all types of industries or plants. Certain plants require special arrangements which, when incorporated make the layout look distinct .
Applicability of plant layout in manufacturing and service industries is discussed below:
In newspaper plant, where the time element is of supreme importance, the accomplishment being gapped in seconds. Here plant layout must be simple and direct so as to eliminate distance, delay and confusion. There must be a perfect coordination of all departments and machinery or equipments, as materials must never fail
In case of the manufacturing of detergent powder, a multi-storey building is specially constructed to house the boiler. Materials are stored and poured into the boiler at different stages on different floors. Other facilities are also provided around the boiler at different stations.
In the manufacture of talcum powder. Here machinery is arranged vertically i.e. from top to bottom. Thus, material is poured into the first machine at the top and powder comes out at the bottom of the machinery located on the ground floor.
In cinema hall, where emphasis is on comfort, and convenience of the cinemagoers. The projector, screen, sound box, fire fighting equipment, ambience etc. should be of utmost importance.
In five star hotels lodging, bar, restaurant, kitchen, stores, swimming pool, laundry, shaving saloons, shopping arcades, conference hall, parking areas etc. should all find an appropriate place in the layout. Here importance must be given to cleanliness, elegant appearance, convenience and compact looks, which attract customers.
A plant layout applies besides the grouping of machinery, to an arrangement for other facilities as well.
Such facilities include :
The receiving and the dispatching departments should be at either end of the plant. The storeroom should be located close to the production, receiving and dispatching centers in order to minimize handling costs.
The inspection should be right next to other dispatch department as inspections are done finally, before dispatch.
The maintenance department consisting of lighting, safety devices, fire protection, collection and disposal of garbage, scrap etc. should be located in a place which is easily accessible to all the other departments in the plant.
The other employee facilities like toilet facilities, drinking water facilities, first aid room, cafeteria etc. can be a little away from other departments but should be within easy reach of the employees.