Plant Layout and Location: For Existing Organization

In this case a manufacturing plant has to fit into a multi-plant operations strategy. That is, additional plant location in the same premises and elsewhere under following circumstances:

  1. Plant manufacturing distinct products.
  2. Manufacturing plant supplying to specific market area.
  3. Plant divided on the basis of the process or stages in manufacturing.
  4. Plants emphasizing flexibility.

The different operations strategies under the above circumstances could be:

1. Plants manufacturing distinct products: Each plant services the entire market area for the organization. This strategy is necessary where the needs of technological and resource inputs are specialized or distinctively different for the different product-lines.

For example, a high quality precision product-line should not be located along with other product-line requiring little emphasis on precision. It may not be proper to have too many contradictions such as sophisticated and old equipment, highly skilled and semi-skilled personnel, delicates processes and those that could permit rough handlings, all under one roof and one set of managers. Such a setting leads to much confusion regarding the required emphasis and the management policies.

Product specialization may be necessary in a highly competitive market. It may be necessary to exploit the special resources of a particular geographical area. The more decentralized these pairs are in terms of the management and in terms of their physical location, the better would be the planning and control and the utilization of the resources.

2. Manufacturing plants supplying to a specific market area: Here, each plant manufactures almost all of the company’s products. This type of strategy is useful where market proximity consideration dominates the resources and technology considerations. This strategy requires great deal of coordination from the corporate office. An extreme example of this strategy is that of soft drinks bottling plants.

3. Plants divided on the basis of the process or stages in manufacturing: Each production process or stage of manufacturing may require distinctively different equipment capabilities, labour skills, technologies, and managerial policies and emphasis. Since the products of one plant feed into the other plant, this strategy requires much centralized coordination of the manufacturing activities from the corporate office that are expected to understand the various technological aspects of all the plants.

4. Plants emphasizing flexibility: This requires much coordination between plants to meet the changing needs and at the same time ensure efficient use of the facilities and resources. Frequent changes in the long-term strategy in order to improve be efficiently temporarily, are not healthy for the organization. In any facility location problem the central question is: ‘Is this a location at which the company can remain competitive for a long time?’

For an established organization in order to add on to the capacity, following are the ways:

(a) Expansion of the facilities at the existing site: This is acceptable when it does not violate the basic business and managerial outlines, i.e., philosophies, purposes, strategies and capabilities. For example, expansion should not compromise quality, delivery, or customer service.

(b) Relocation of the facilities (closing down the existing ones): This is a drastic step which can be called as ‘Uprooting and Transplanting’. Unless there are very compelling reasons, relocation is not done. The reasons will be either bringing radical changes in technology, resource availability or other destabilization.

All these factors are applicable to service organizations, whose objectives, priorities and strategies may differ from those of hardcore manufacturing organizations.

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