Layout of a plant is an expensive affair. Due care is required in the installation of plant and equipment. Management must remember that plant layout is not an end in itself but is a means to achieve a smooth flow of materials. A sound layout must ensure-
(a) steady and uninterrupted flow of work
(b) absence of congested traffic
(c) full utilization of capacity
(d) flexibility to meet technological changes and increase in production requirements
(e) easy control of production
(f) effective supervision
(g) low cost of manufacturing
In addition to the location of production equipment and work centers, the location of plant services (receiving, shipping, warehousing, maintenance, tool, cribs) and employee services (parking, cafeteria, locker rooms, toilets, medical, recreation facilities, etc.). The main consideration in locating plant services is the overall material flow patterns. In locating employee facilities the guiding factor is convenience and accessibility to employees.
While designing the layout of a plant, the following principles should be kept in mind:
(i) Principle of minimum movement. As far as possible materials and labor should be moved over minimum distances.
(ii) Principle of flow. The work areas should be arranged according to the sequence of operations so that there is a continuous flow of materials without backtracking or congestion. The layout should allow for easy movement of materials without interruptions or delays. As far as possible movement of materials should be continuous.
(iii) Principle of space. All available cubic space should be effectively used both horizontally and vertically.
(iv) Principle of safety. Due consideration should be given to the safety and convenience of workers. There should be built-in provision for the safety and comfort of employees.
(v) Principle of flexibility. Layout should be so designed that production facilities can easily be rearranged when it becomes necessary in future on account of expansion or technological changes.
(vi) Principle of interdependence. Interdependent operations and processes should be located in close proximity to each other. For example, materials should be stored near the area of requirement, transport, etc. This will minimize product travel.
(vii) Principle of overall integration. All the plant facilities and services should be fully integrated into a single operating unit so as to maximize efficiency and minimize costs of production.
(viii) Principle of minimum investment. The layout should yield savings in fixed capital investment through optimum utilization of available facilities.