The efficiency of production depends on how well the various machines; production facilities and employee's amenities are located in a plant. Only the properly laid out plant can ensure the smooth and rapid movement of material, from the raw material stage to the end product stage. Plant layout encompasses new layout as well as improvement in the existing layout. It may be defined as a technique of locating machines, processes and plant services within the factory so as to achieve the right quantity and quality of output at the lowest possible cost of manufacturing. It involves a judicious arrangement of production facilities so that workflow is direct.Â 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 overall objective of plant layout is to design a physical arrangement that most economically meets the required output - quantity and quality.",
"Plant layout ideally involves allocation of space and arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimized.
IMPORTANCE OF PLANT LAYOUT:
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Plant layout is an important decision as it represents long-term commitment. An ideal plant layout should provide the optimum relationship among output, floor area and manufacturing process.
It facilitates the production process, minimizes material handling, time and cost, and allows flexibility of operations, easy production flow, makes economic use of the building, promotes effective utilization of manpower, and provides for employee's convenience, safety, comfort at work, maximum exposure to natural light and ventilation.
It is also Â important because it affects the flow of material and processes, labor efficiency, supervision and control, use of space and expansion possibilities etc.
ESSENTIALS: An efficient plant layout is one that can be instrumental in achieving the following objectives:
a) Proper and efficient utilization of available floor space
b) To ensure that work proceeds from one point to another point without any delay
c) Provide enough production capacity.
d) Reduce material handling costs
e) Reduce hazards to personnel
f) Utilize labor efficiently
g) Increase employee morale
h) Reduce accidents
i) Provide for volume and product flexibility
j) Provide ease of supervision and control
k) Provide for employee safety and health
l) Allow ease of maintenance
m) Allow high machine or equipment utilization
n) Improve productivity
TYPES OF PLANT LAYOUT
As discussed so far the plant layout facilitates the arrangement of machines, equipment and other physical facilities in a planned manner within the factory premises. An entrepreneur must possess an expertise to lay down a proper layout for new or existing plants. It differs from plant to plant, from location to location and from industry to industry. But the basic principles governing plant layout are more or less same. As far as small business is concerned, it requires a smaller area or space and can be located in any kind of building as long as the space is available and it is convenient. Plant layout for Small Scale business is closely linked with the factory building and built up area. From the point of view of plant layout, we can classify business or unit into three categories:
MANUFACTURING UNITS: Under this, machines and equipments are arranged in one line depending upon the sequence of operations required for the product. The materials move form one workstation to another sequentially without any backtracking or deviation. Under this, machines are grouped in one sequence. Therefore materials are fed into the first machine and finished goods travel automatically from machine to machine, the output of one machine becoming input of the next, e.g. in a paper mill, bamboos are fed into the machine at one end and paper comes out at the other end. The raw material moves very fast from one workstation to other stations with a minimum work in progress storage and material handling. In case of manufacturing unit, plant layout may be of four types:
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
(a) Product or line layout
(b) Process or functional layout
(c) Fixed position or location layout
(d) Combined or group layout
(a) Product or line layout:
PRODUCT LAYOUT PROVIDES VARIOUS BENEFITS:
Low cost of material handling, due to straight and short route and absence of backtrackingÂ
Smooth and uninterrupted operations
Continuous flow of work
Lesser investment in inventory and work in progress
Optimum use of floor space
Shorter processing time or quicker output
Less congestion of work in the process
Simple and effective inspection of work and simplified production control
Lower cost of manufacturing per unit
PRODUCT LAYOUT SUFFERS FROM VARIOUS DRAWBACKS:
High initial capital investment in special purpose machine
Heavy overhead charges
Breakdown of one machine will hamper the whole production process
Lesser flexibility as specially laid out for particular product.
Therefore, the manufacturing units involving continuous manufacturing process, producing few standardized products continuously on the firm's own specifications and in anticipation of sales would prefer product layout e.g. chemicals, sugar, paper, rubber, refineries, cement, automobiles, food processing and electronics etc.Â
PROCESS LAYOUT :
In this type of layout machines of a similar type are arranged together at one place. E.g. Machines performing drilling operations are arranged in the drilling department, machines performing casting operations be grouped in the casting department. Therefore the machines are installed in the plants, which follow the process layout. Hence, such layouts typically have drilling department, milling department, welding department, heating department and painting department etc. The process or functional layout is followed from historical period. It evolved from the handicraft method of production. The work has to be allocated to each department in such a way that no machines are chosen to do as many different job as possible i.e. the emphasis is on general purpose machine.
Thus, process layout or functional layout is suitable for job order production involving non-repetitive processes and customer specifications and non standardized products, e.g. tailoring, light and heavy engineering products, made to order furniture industries, jewelry.
Certain manufacturing units may require all three processes namely intermittent process (job shops), the continuous process (mass production shops) and the representative process combined process [i.e. miscellaneous shops]. In most of industries, only a product layout or process layout or fixed location layout does not exist. Thus, in manufacturing concerns where several products
are produced in repeated numbers with no likelihood of continuous production, combined layout is followed. Generally, a combination of the product and process layout or other combination are found, in practice, e.g. for industries involving the fabrication of parts and assembly, fabrication tends to employ the process layout, while the assembly areas often employ the product layout. In soap, manufacturing plant, the machinery manufacturing soap is arranged on the product line principle, but ancillary services such as heating, the manufacturing of glycerin, the power house, the water treatment plant etc. are arranged on a functional basis.
When two outlets carry almost same merchandise, customers usually buy in the one that is more appealing to them. Thus, customers are attracted and kept by good layout i.e. good lighting, attractive colors, good ventilation, air conditioning, modern design and arrangement and even music. All of these things mean customer convenience, customer appeal and greater business volume. The customer is always impressed by service, efficiency and quality. Hence, the layout is essential for handling merchandise, which is arranged as per the space available and the type and magnitude of goods to be sold keeping in mind the convenience of customers.
SERVICE CENTRES AND ESTABLISHMENTS:
Services establishments such as motels, hotels, restaurants, must give due attention to client convenience, quality of service, efficiency in delivering services and pleasing office ambience. In today's environment, the clients look for ease in approaching different departments of a service organization and hence the layout should be designed in a fashion, which allows clients quick and convenient access to the facilities offered by a service establishment.
FACTORS INFLUENCING LAYOUT
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While deciding his factory or unit or establishment or store, a small-scale businessman should keep the following factors in mind:
a) 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.
b) Nature of product: product layout is suitable for uniform products whereas process layout is more appropriate for custom-made products.
c) Production process: In assembly line industries, product layout is better. In job order or intermittent manufacturing on the other hand, process layout is desirable.
d) Type of machinery: General purpose machines are often arranged as per process layout while special purpose machines are arranged according to product layout
e) 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.
f) 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.
g) 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.
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 form the types already discussed above. Applicability of plant layout in manufacturing and service industries is discussed below. 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. Another applicability of this layout is 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. Yet another applicability of this layout is the 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. Plant layout is also applicable to five star hotels as well. Here 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. Similarly plant layout is applicable to a
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. A plant layout applies besides the grouping of machinery, to an arrangement for other facilities as well. Such facilities include receiving and dispatching points, inspection facilities, employee facilities, storage etc. Generally, 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. Hence, there are the other industries or plants to which plant layout is applicable.
An ideally laid out plant reduces manufacturing costs through reduced materials handling, reduced personnel and equipment requirements and reduced process inventory. The objectives or advantages of an ideal layout are outlined in the paragraphs that follow. The advantages are common to all the plants, irrespective of age; and whether a plant employs 50 workers or 50,000 makes no difference in so far as the applicability of the plant layout advantages is concerned. Some of these advantages are:Â
ECONOMICS 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.
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: Â
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.
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.
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. 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.Â