Production Management

12 Factors Influencing (Affecting) Plant Layout

We have to study all the factors affecting the plant layout, e.g., materials list, current and future output targets, components to be bought from outside, stock policy and storage requirements, number and type of equipment, manpower needs, processing times, shape of finished product. These requirements can be determined by analyzing the nature of the product to be manufactured.

Factors Influencing (Affecting) Plant Layout

(i) Nature of the product : The size, shape, characteristics and many other properties of the product influence the choice of the layout e.g. products having sensitive chemical properties needs more provision for safety equipment. Some products need air-conditioned plants. Efficient material handling system can be used for light products.

(ii) Size of Output : If standardized items are to be produced in bulk then product or line layout is more suitable. If some specific products are to be manufactured once in life time, then functional layout will be more appropriate.

(iii) Nature or Manufacturing System : For intermittent type of industries functional layout is better and in the case of continuous manufacturing system one can very well use product or line layout.

(iv) Location of the Plant : Layout is greatly influenced by the size, shape, climatic conditions and by-laws of the area where plant site is selected. There will be different transport arrangement if site is located near the railway line, otherwise the approach will be different. If floor space is square and too many machines and operations are involved in the production process then layout can be planned in different shapes.

(v) Machines or Equipment : Heavy machines making too much movement during operations need stationary type of layout. Layout also depends on the size of the machines.

(vi) Climatic conditions, requirements of light, temperature etc. also play an important role in designing a layout.

(vii) Balancing Production Lines. It is also very important aspect. The sequence of machines and equipment arranged to produce the desired product is known as Production lines. It should also be maintained so that productivity of plants & equipment may be ensured.

(viii) Plant environment. In planning factory layout, heat, light, noise, ventilation and other aspects of plant climate should be given due consideration. For example, paint shops and plating sections should be located on an outside wall so that dangerous fumes may be removed through proper ventilation. Type of machines, materials and equipment used also exercise consider-able influence on plant location.

(ix) Spatial requirements. The spatial needs for machines, material handling equipment and available floor space are important influences on plant location. Spatial requirements also depend upon the position and needs of workers. Employee facilities and safety should be duly considered.

(x) Repairs and maintenance. Machines and equipment should not be fixed so close to each other that it may create problems in repairs, maintenance and replacement. Access to machine parts for repairs and maintenance should be provided.

(xi) Balance. Proper balance between processes helps to avoid bottlenecks. The arrangement of machine capacity should be such as to ensure a uniform flow of work. At the same time the layout should be designed in such a manner that there is minimum possible movement of materials and men.

(xii) Management policy. Management policies regarding size, quality, employee facilities and delivery schedules should be considered while deciding plant layout. For example, size (demand forecast) will determine the size of work stations. Need for flexibility should also be considered. The layout designer must have a complete understanding of management policies that have a bearing on plant layout.

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