Plant Layout

Plant layout refers to the physical arrangement of facilities. It is the configuration of departments, work centers and equipment in the conversion process. The overall objective of the plant layout is to design a physical arrangement that meets the required output quality and quantity most economically.

According to James Moore, “Plant layout is a plan of an optimum arrangement of facilities including personnel, operating equipment, storage space, material handling equipments and all other supporting services along with the design of best structure to contain all these facilities”.

Objectives of Good Plant Layout

The primary goal of the plant layout is to maximize profit by arrangement of all the plant

facilities to the best advantage of total manufacturing of the product.

Only through an efficient layout, the organization can attain the following objectives:

  • Streamline the flow of material through the plant
  • Economy in handling of materials, work-in-process and finished goods.
  • Minimization of product delays.
  • Minimize material handling cost
  • Facilitate the manufacturing process
  • Maintain high turnover of in-process inventory
  • Lesser work-in-progress and minimum manufacturing cycle time.
  • Efficient utilization of available space.
  • Easy supervision and better production control.
  • Greater flexibility for changes in product design and for future expansion.
  • Better working conditions by eliminating causes of excessive noise, objectionable odor smoke etc.
  • Provide for employee convenience, safety and comfort
  • Minimize overall production time
  • Minimize investment in equipment

Principles of a good plant layout:

1. Overall integration of factors

A good layout is one that integrates men, materials, machines and supporting activities and others in a way that the best compromise is obtained No layout can satisfy each and every principle of a good layout.  Some criterion may conflict with some other criterion and as a result no layout can be ideal it has to integrate all factors into the best possible compromise.

2. Minimum movement

A good layout is one that permits the minimum movement between the operations.  The plant and machinery in case of product layout and departments in case of process layout should be arranged as per sequence of operations of most of the products.

  • Since straight line is the shortest distance between any two points, men and materials as far as possible should be made to move along the straight path
  • A door may be made in a wall or a hole may be drilled in a ceiling if that eliminates or reduces material handling in place of stairs or a distant door.

3. Uni-direction flow

A good layout is one that makes the materials move only in the forward direction, towards stage of completion, with any backtracking.

  • Since straight line is the shortest distance between any two, points, materials as far as possible should be made to move on the principle of straight-line flow.  And when straight line flow is not possible, other flows like U-shaped flow, circular flow or zig zag flow may be adopted, but the layout may ensure that materials move in the forward direction.
  • To ensure forward flow, equipment if necessary may be duplicated.

4. Effective use of available space

A good layout is one that makes effective use of available space both horizontal and vertical.

  • Backtracking and duplicated movements consume more time, involve un-necessary materials handling, add to cost and lead to inefficiency.
  • Raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods should be piled vertically one above another rather than being strewn on the floor.
  • Pallets or equivalents should be made use of to pile up several layers one above another.
  • Area below the work tables or in the cupboards built into the wall are welcome since they reduce requirement of space.

5. Maximum visibility

A good layout is one that makes men, machines and materials ready observable at all times.

  • All departments should be smoothly integrated, convenient to service and easy to supervise.
  • Every piece of positioning or screening or partitioning should be scrutinized and carefully planned.
  • Special cupboards, enclosures, offices, partitions etc. should be avoided except when their utility is established beyond doubt.

6. Maximum accessibility

A good layout is one that makes all servicing and maintenance point readily accessible.

  • Machines should be kept sufficiently apart and with reasonable clearance from the wall so that lubrication, adjustment and replacement of belts, removal of parts at the time of repairs etc can be done conveniently by the maintenance staff.
  • Area in front of electrical panels and fire extinguishers should be kept free from obstructions.

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