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In layout planning, it is not only to divide a facility into flow and non-flow activities while trying to optimize these. It is easily misunderstood by many students. Layout planning has essential strategic implications as it can enhance an organization's competitiveness in different areas, like capacity, processes, flexibility and cost. Also some are intangible like quality of work like, customer contact and image.
Case Study - Toyota
History of Toyota
After the Second World War, Toyota wanted to enter US's automobile market but they met huge difficulties. They tried in imitating US automobiles manufacturing policies. However, cost difference between Japan and US made it more difficult following similar manufacturing policy. Also, lower demand for automobiles in Japan lead to high resistance of copying manufacturing policy of US's automobile companies. Taiichi Onho who was vice-president of Toyota thought seriously and considered waste as the important factor. The categories of waste were included
inventory or waste associated with keeping dead stock
time spent by workers waiting for materials to appear in the assembly line
time spend on transportation or movement
workers spending more time than necessary processing an item
waste associated with defective items
Taiichi Onho aimed to eliminate waste by his style of just-in-time philosophy, which was different from Henry Ford's manufacturing policy of mass production, where items moved through the production system only as and when needed
Success of Toyota
In one of the largest automobile manufacturers, Toyota, her production system promotes a new concept of production, lean production. It is a kind of manufacturing philosophy and methodology which is to eliminate all kinds of waste and achieve highest product quality. There are 2 common terms used in manufacturing and servicing industries, Just-in-time (JIT) and Kanban System which were introduced by their management staff.
Characteristics of lean production
Voice of the Customer
Recognize & Eliminate waste everywhere
Ways to utilize lean manufacturing (examples)
Single-minute exchange of dies (SMED)
5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardized, Sustain)
Total Productive Maintenance
Toyota's automobiles production process
Similar to other automobile manufacturers, its manufacturing process is in a straight line flow consisting of several processes.
Assembly with other body parts like engine, panels
Throughout these 5 processes, these processes are worked in a low noise, energy saving plant which uses latest technology in different areas. More précised works can be performed by these automated machines while workload of workers can be lowered. Workers can also enjoy working in a safer and more efficient environment. Worker's concentration can be enhanced and maintained in a longer time in this higher quality of automobile production.
How to plan a good layout for lean manufacturing?
As we all know most processes involved in automobile manufacturing, in order to have a highly efficient manufacturing environment, we need to focus on plant floor design. However, changing an existing layout or creating a new assembly line is difficult as we need to consider many factors.
Toyota succeeds in not only focusing on material flow and equipment enhancement. They can design new factories around lean principles. It is to minimize waste, optimize flow and boost productivity. Workstations, workers, materials and equipment should be arranged in order to facilitate the lean principles.
In the form of line layout, for instance, linear layout and cellular layout has different characteristics in using in different industries. However, assembly lines have changed in form largely due to rise of JIT, part sequencing and others in order to reduce line-side inventories. In tradition, traditional plant layout focused more on creating core work organization unit in form of process-based departments. If production is in batch form, department can optimize quantities of work by department. Also, lean layout enables customers to order products that cut horizontally across these different vertical silos and departments or value streams. This kind of process-based department helps customers to have their products on-time which has short lead-times and best quality. It can support short, simple flows across facilities, from fabrication through final assembly.
In modern manufacture plant layout, like Toyota, they would choose lean plant layout instead of traditional plant layout. This will give smaller room for waste and this waste will become visible and identified by workers. For instance, to prevent building up inventory, spaces between machines should be minimal to reduce motion and conveyance. To help material handlers, this kind of layout can allow consistent material flow by their hands.
Comparing with traditional layout, it is effective at manufacturing a larger variety of goods with different process routings and varied demand levels. However, it would create larger amount of inventories of raw material, in-process and finished goods, higher lead times, lower quality, slower process improvement and higher cost. Also, functional workflow which is essential in traditional layout will not be appeared again in lean layout; this will diminish the bad side of effect of high levels of work-in-process inventory and long lead times. Then inventory storage space required will be decreased 30-50%. In lean manufacturing, product families are chosen to form common process routings. Smaller batches and run sizes will be performed so that less amount of in-process inventories because of shorter travelling distances and less physical storage space needed.
Challenges using lean manufacturing layout
A challenging situation using lean manufacturing layout is difficult in finding commonality in process routings in thousands of goods. It is difficult for engineers to allocate these products into appropriate families. Sometimes, it needs combination of batch and flow which is used in traditional ways while customized product and multidirectional flow is needed between different workstations. As the result, we can find out that a flexible layout fro lean layout is the essential consideration so that continuous improvements can be performed inside the facility.
Higher flexibility inside the factory
For instance, in order to rearrange the equipment, casters may be needed to install at the bottom side of the equipment for easier movement. To choose the best equipment in the lean layout, it should be disconnected from utilities and easier transfer between different production cells. For instance, some companies would choose to buy smaller machines for each product line or find more flow-friendly technology inside the facility.
Importance of visualization and communication within facility
There is need to define the lean layout to whole organization. Visual systems can help workers move with changes in the layout while they can modify their behavior easier. Also adhesive floor markings are suggested to for communicating changes inside the facility due to higher effectiveness.
Balance between different processes
It is common that one process may be faster than another. As an engineer, we should solve this imbalance of different processes. We many choose to slow down the faster process in order to achieve desired balance. In the beginning, we mention about we should not only focus on a layout for better flow, we should consider a new layout for performing smooth operations for enhancing strategic competitiveness.
Establishment of Kanban system
The Kanban System was developed, by Mr. Taiichi Ohno, past vice president of Toyota, to achieve objectives that include,
reduce costs by eliminating waste/scrap
try to create work sites that can respond to changes quickly
facilitate the methods of achieving and assuring quality control
design work sites according to human dignity, mutual trust and support, and allowing workers to reach their maximum potential.
Kanban systems are most commonly seen in pull-type control in production systems with aims at reducing costs by minimizing the work-in-process inventory. This allows an organization the ability to adapt to changes in demand, and therefore production more quickly.
Kanban in Toyota
The two most common types of Kanbans used in Toyota Systems are:
Part Retrieval Kanban
Production Instruction Kanban
Part Retrieval Kanban
Main function of this kind of Kan-ban is to transfer an authorization for start of movement of parts from one process to another. If a process get a part from preceding process, process after can start to produce its required parts, until the last part has been used by the next process. This kind of Kanban then passes back to the preceding process to receive required parts. As the result, it creates a manufacturing cycle.
Retrieval Kanban shall carry the information shown below:
name of the next process
location of the next process
name of the preceding process
location of the preceding process
number of containers released
In order to support this retrieval Kanban, this kind of system can be designed in many ways for flexible and efficient assembly facilities.
Production Kanban has a primary function of releasing an order to preceding stage to produce required batch size which is indicated on a Kanban card.
The production Kanban card shall carry the information shown below:
materials required as inputs at the preceding stage
parts required as inputs at the preceding stage
information stated on withdrawals Kan-ban
The main difference compared with retrieval Kanban is that the first 2 kind of information in production Kanban card may not be required in retrieval Kanban because retrieval Kanban card is used for transmitting message for authorization of movement of parts and components between different workstations and cells.
How Kanban control production lines
A Kanban system consists of a network of work stations, for example N, processed through S production stages. Each production stage consists of one or more workstations and each has an unlimited local buffer for storing unfinished parts. In a production stage j, there are Kj Kanbans and Nj workstations. In order to enter into the required production stage i for a part, it must first acquire a free kanban which is retrieval kanban, Kj.
If the required part enters next workstation, it receives a new production kanban which will be attached to the part until all processes associated with required kanban card have been completed. Once the part is completed in the required stage, the production kanban is removed and then the withdrawal kanban will become available.
Then the required part is put to output buffer where is to wait a new kanban to move in order to start the next production stage, i + 1. The kanban which is associated with the finished part is removed at the time that the part is withdrawn by the next stage.
Then a new unattached kanban is transferred to an input buffer where function of it is to act as a pull signal for the upstream stage i - 1. The kanban system produces only one type of automobile component and performs under an essential assumption that supply of demand of raw materials and finished goods are unlimited and acquired by Toyota. As a result of this assumption, no input buffer is necessary for the initial stage while no output buffer is required at the final stage.
In order to let Kanban system operate at its maximum efficiency, it is better to choose pre-determined batch sizes for manufacture of all required parts. This allows Toyota to minimize its facility setup and manufacture costs as much as possible in this Kanban system.
Concept of Toyota production system
Toyota aims to involve all workers in the production system in order to enhance its quality control throughout all automobiles manufactured. The principles on which Toyota was founded are employed at the Georgetown plant.
Toyota aims to involve all staff by following ways:
to encourage an active role in quality control,
to utilize staff thoughts in improving production processes,
to practise "kaizen" - fighting for continuous improvement.
One special feature that Toyota treats the next person on the assembly line as their customers and aims not to move any defective part to the next one. If anyone finds a defect within any part of the vehicle, the corresponding member will stop his line and solve the problem before the defect goes any farther downstream.
Toyota's strength in enhancing her competitiveness
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. wins many awards in their way of production, like J.D. Power Gold Plant Quality Awards, annual industry awards recognizing the finest vehicle manufacturing plants in North America. Since 1990s, Toyota's plant in US has placed in the top three six times for best vehicle quality. In 1996, Toyota's plant in Georgetown received the J.D. Power Gold Plant Award for Engine Quality. In 2006, Toyota also won a J.D. Power and Associates Silver Plant Quality Award.
How to plan for a better production line?
In the planning stages, it is important to note that defect-free goods should be emphasized throughout the production line. It means that Toyota enhances quality into her automobile.
Technology advances in a rapid way that some IT softwares, such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD), have helped designers make their specifications in a faster speed, while improving design quality. CAD allows designers to see their ideas as they take shape on a monitor display, in addition to clay models.
In pre-production process, quality is essential and determined factor. Quality is the important factor in establishing a system that meets the aims of design, production cost and volume. Also, the planning stage establishes a plan which should outline all details of checking and inspection process while this kind of quality control process needs close cooperation between production departments.
Toyota's style of quality control in her assembly process need to ensure correct components and equipment are used and fitted with high accuracy. Through thousands of accurate inspections by production team members, the assembly processes can be operated in a very high efficiency. Team members on the line shall be responsible for the equipment and components they use. They need to act as inspectors and co-workers for their own works. When a defect of automobile is spotted, any team member can pull a rope which is called andon cord in order to halt production in the assembly line. The line will not be restarted unless the problem is solved. This process shall involve all manufacturing staff in checking and monitoring all produced automobiles and their parts.
Then quality audits may undergo following processes:
exhaust system testing
maintain mass production quality control levels
identify any improvement in quality
provide detailed automobile evaluations
After an automobile is completed in assembly process, the vehicles are first driven to functional inspection. To ensure best quality of any automobile, every aspect of the automobile is put through many challenging tests and inspections.
How to prepare for changing layout
As we all know, we may encounter many problems when we need to implement new layout or even modify a bit in the layout plan as equipment and workers need to fit into new plan well in order enhance efficiency and productivity. We need to train all involved in core lean skills, for instance standardized procedures and processes. These skills are important that the company need to sustain their production through continuous improvement. For instance, in automobile industry like Toyota, presentation of parts and tools are important in reducing wasted steps. As the result, Toyota tries to focus on minimizing steps taken in assembling a vehicle. Lean production should choose to optimize her dynamic design using value stream flow as it is customer-focused production. Its process should be driven by customer demand so that Toyota engineers can find out any commonalities in process routings. Then they can determine how to arrange workstations or cells and their corresponding equipment to achieve better workflow.
Case Study - Hospital (Focus on Intensive care unit, ICU)
The layout plan of a hospital emphasizes convenience, with all outpatient services located on the same floor to improve efficiency. The smooth patient flow from registration, examination, treatment, referral, payment of prescribed medications, along with sophisticated computer system, reduces waiting times.
Importance of ICU
As we all know, patients in ICU are critical and need intensive medical support from high-tech equipment and medical staff. As a layout planner, we need to design a suitable layout for ICU in order to optimize the flow of patient and equipment, also efficient medical care and environment for all people inside the ICU. ICU designs should provide comfort to patients; diminish possibility of hospital-related infections and ICU stay cost. On the other hand, because of severity of cases in ICU, it requires the utmost in technology, methodology and sterility. However, the patients and their families who are experiencing traumatic moments of their lives need a natural environment that is comforting and de-stressing.
Floor-plan and design
Overall ICU layout plan and design should be based upon several data or characteristics of the hospital, for instance patient admission patterns, staff and visitor traffic patterns, and the need for support facilities like workspace for nurses. Eight to twelve beds per ICU is considered best in a functional perspective. Positive and negative pressure isolation within the unit should be considered carefully. Also it should be a geographically distinct area with authorized access of visitors within the hospital. It should not create through traffic with any other department. We should also separate from supply and staff traffic and public traffics. In location we should choose a location which has direct elevator access to and from, the Emergency Unit, Operating Room and Radiology Department etc.
Some basic requirement of ICU layout
Direct observation of the patient by medical staff
Surveillance of physiological monitoring
Provision and efficient use of routine and emergency diagnostic procedures and interventions
Recording and maintenance of patient information
We can use behavior mapping to find out any relationship of routes which are often used by people closely related to the ICU, and then it can help in determining departmental relationships within the hospital. ICU should be close to many important facilities inside a hospital like emergency unit, surgery & recovery. It is essential to consider travel distance to different kinds of beds like telemetry beds and step-down beds. After consideration of important function of ICU for urgent action taken by medical staff, nurse station is preferably located towards the inside of the ICU.
Access to ICU
There should not be any thorough traffic to other departments from the ICU. It is a good idea to separate the supply and professional traffic from public/ visitor traffic. A direct elevator is a good way to transfer patients in and out of ICU, in order to reduce transport time and avoid the visitors. We should ensure suitable patient privacy. Any transportation in and out of the ICU should be rapid with no obstacle. We should choose elevators with oversized key that separate from other public access.
Patients must be situated so that direct or indirect (e.g. by video monitor) visualization by healthcare providers is possible at all times. This permits the monitoring of patient status under both routine and emergency circumstances. The preferred design is to allow a direct line of vision between the patient and the central nursing station. In ICUs with a modular design, patients should be visible from their respective nursing substations. Sliding glass doors and partitions facilitate this arrangement, and increase access to the room in emergency situations. Signals from patient call systems, alarms from monitoring equipment, and telephones add to the sensory overload in critical care units.
A central nursing station should provide a comfortable area of sufficient size to accommodate all necessary staff functions. When an ICU is of a modular design, each nursing substation should be capable of providing most if not all functions of a central station. There must be adequate overhead and task lighting, and a wall mounted clock should be present. Adequate space for computer terminals and printers is essential when automated systems are in use. Patient records should be readily accessible. Adequate surface space and seating for medical record charting by both physicians and nurses should be provided. Shelving, file cabinets and other storage for medical record forms must be located so that they are readily accessible by all personnel requiring their use.
Size and arrangement of ICU
The traditional design of critical care units has been influenced by reliance on a single paper medical record, central monitors, and regulations promoting a single, centrally located workstation from which all beds within the unit can be observed. These conditions are changing as information systems allow the digital record to be in multiple places at once, interdisciplinary care teams become more prevalent, nursing moves closer to the bedside, families become more involved in patient care, technology advances, and functions that had been centralized become decentralized.
Unit design begins with an in-depth analysis of patient care and support functions, workflow, and hospital policies. An inventory of equipment and supplies, both current and future, will help to determine space requirements. Whether a centralized or decentralized design is chosen, caregivers must be able to observe patients from many points within the unit. Published suggestions have proposed units or patient room groupings ranging from a minimum of six beds, for reasons of efficiency and economy, to a maximum of eight to 12 beds for reasons of observation. Research has demonstrated that single rooms are superior to multi-bed rooms in terms of patient safety. They also enhance privacy. Rooms providing full enclosure have been shown to increase sleep quality.
Geometry - setting of beds and nurse station
Geometry is based on visibility of patients from a station, which includes the visibility of staff for patients, walking distance, and ability for patients and staff to have a view outside, and is dependent on centralization or decentralization of nurse stations. Besides, beds are legally required to classic shapes: semicircle, open box, ele and linear designs, as indicated in the following figure. The most important aspects to compare layouts on are:
ï‚§ Good visibility; triangle, horseshoe, circular, box, front & back
ï‚§ Bad visibility; linear, stagger
ï‚§ Short walking distance; box, front & back
ï‚§ Average walking distance; triangle, horseshoe, circular
ï‚§ Long walking distance; linear, stagger
ï‚§ Patient & Staff; horseshoe
Well connected ICU and resources support
In order to let staff comfort for their work, a staff lounge or pantry must be available on or near the ICU. The function of the lounge is to provide a relaxing and comfortable environment like showers and toilets or some facilities for storage of personal belongings. This area should include comfortable seating and adequate nourishment storage and preparation facilities including refrigerator and a microwave oven. The lounge should have close linkage and access to the ICU by telephone or other intercommunication system so that staff is able to hear any alarm.
Utilize with IT systems
Computerized patient charting is getting more and more popular in ICUs. These systems provide good data management, order entry and nurse and physician charting while paper is not involved. If such technology is chosen, it is important to integrate this system fully with all ICU activities. Bedside terminals can facilitate patient management by allowing medical staff to stay near bedside during the charting process. To minimize errors, automatic recording can monitor data processed. Also, remote data transmission capabilities are preferred to facilitate continuous patient management. Intercommunication systems with ICU are good choices that establish a voice linkage between the central nursing station, patient modules and other important and relevant facilities to ICU.