The word ‘Plant Layout’ is an amalgam of two words : Plant and Layout. The term ‘Plant’ refers to machinery, equipment physical facilities for production. The term ‘Layout’ denotes the arrangement of facilities in a particular work station. Thus, plant layout implies the physical arrangement of machines, equipment and other industrial facilities on the floor of factory in such a manner that they may be handled efficiently and effectively.
Efficiency and performance of good machines depend to a great extent on the nature and type of plant layout. An unscientific plant layout increases the cost of production, delays in production and reduces profits. On the other hand, a good plant layout results in comforts, convenience, safety, efficiency, compactness and profits. That’s why, industrial engineers devote their considerable time to this problem.
Definitions of Plant Layout
The Plant Layout has been defined by various authorities as follows:
1. “It ideally, involves the allocation of space and the arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating Costs are minimized.” – J.L. Lundy.
2. “Any arrangement of machines and facilities is a layout-just as any house plan is a plan.” -F.G. Moore.
3. “Plant layout the arrangement of machines, work areas and service areas within a factory.” -George R. Terry.
4. “Plant layout involves the development of physical relationship among building, equipment and production operations which will enable the manufacturing process to be carried on efficiently.”- M.E. Hurley.
All the above definitions brings out the fact that plant layout is an effort to mange machines, equipment and other services within a pre-designed building ensuring steady, smooth and economical flow of material planning the layout of a plant is a continuous process as there are always chances of making improvements over the existing arrangement specially with shifts in the policies of management or techniques of production.
Objectives of Plant Layout
The basic objective of layout is to develop a production system that meets requirements of quantity and quality in the most economical way. According to R.C. Davis an efficient plant layout can be instrumental in the accomplishment of following objectives :
(i) economies in materials, working of the process and handling of semi-finished and finished goods.
ii) proper and efficient utilization of available floor space.
(iii) to ensure that work proceeds from one point to another point the plant without any delay i.e. to avoid congestion and bottlenecks.
(iv) provision of better supervision and control of operations.
(v) careful planning to avoid frequent changes in layout which may result in undue increase in cost of production.
(vi) to provide adequate safety to the workers from accidents.
(vii) to meet the quality and capacity requirement in the most economical manner.
(viii) provision of medical facilities and cafeteria at suitable and convenient places.
(ix) to provide efficient material handling system,
(x) to suggest improvements in production process and work methods.
It is very difficult to attain all these objectives in practice. Anyhow good skill and judgement can result in providing best possible layout for a system. This needs close understanding between planner of the layout and plant engineers.
Advantages of good plant layout
A good layout can provide a number of advantages to worker and management. Some of these are listed below
I. To the Workers –
(i) Lesser number of operations and material handling.
(ii) reduction in length of hauls and motions between operations minimizes production time as well as the activities Of workers.
(iii) more labor productivity i.e. more output per man hour.
(iv) more safety and security to workers from accidents.
(v) better working conditions resulting improved efficiency.
II. In Manufacturing Costs:
(i) maintenance and replacement costs are reduced.
(ii) loss due to waste and spoilage is minimized.
(iii) improved quality of product with reduction in handling.
(iv) better cost control.
III. In production Control and Supervision:
i) provides more space for production operation.
(ii) control and supervision operations are provided at appropriate points.
(iii) better and convenient storage facilities.
(iv) efficient arrangement for receipt, transportation and delivery of raw-material and finished goods.
(v) results in less inspection activity.
(vi) cost and efforts in the supervision of production process are minimized.
(vii) A good layout leads to efficient and optimum use of machines, labor and capital by minimizing per unit production time and maintaining a proper balance between various production departments. This leads to reduction in capital investments.