Production Management

Advantages and Disadvantages of Process or Functional Plant Layout

Process or Functional Layout: Process layout means the arrangement of similar machines in a group in one department according to the functions they perform in the plant. Thus, welding equipment may be placed in a separate welding department for the benefit of all lines of department. All lathe machines may similarly be placed at one place in the lathe department.

This type of layout is generally adopted for job order production under which different varieties of goods are produced in comparatively smaller quantities at irregular intervals. It is just the opposite of the line layout and its advantages are the drawbacks of the line layout and vise versa.

Advantages of Process Layout

The chief advantages of the process or functional layout may be stated briefly as follows

(i) Flexibility. It is more flexible as changes in operations and their order can usually be made without upsetting the existing layout.

(ii) Scope of expansion. Under such layout, the capacities of the different lines can be easily expanded.

(iii) Full utilization of equipment. The functional layout of machines leads to better utilization of the equipment. The investment in equipment would thus be comparatively lower.

(iv) Better utilization of workers. The special abilities of the workers and supervisors can be utilized better if the machines ate arranged according to their functions.

(v) Adaptability in case of breakdowns. Unlike the line layout, a breakdown of a machine does not disrupt the whole work.

Disadvantages of Process Layout

The thief drawbacks may likewise be summed up as follows:

(i) Difficulty in the use of machines. The mechanical devices for material handling, cannot be conveniently employed.

(ii) Dis-economy of floor space. This type of layout requires more floor space than the product layout.

(iii) Wasteful hauling of materials. The materials have to be carried forward and backward quite frequently. This means both delay and waste.

(iv) Difficulty of production control. Production control is difficult to enforce under such layout and is both costly and complex.

(v) Accumulation of work in progress. The work in progress or the stocks of semi-finished products may accumulate.

(vi) Longer period of manufacture. The manufacturing operations take a longer period than under the product layout.

(vii) Uneconomical inspection. Inspection under this layout is more frequent and costilier because work has to be checked after each operation.

Comparison between Line Layout and Functional Layout

Characteristics                               Line Layout     Functional Layout

1. Mechanization of material handling   Yes                      No

2. Avoidance of bottlenecks                   Yes                     No

3. Economy in material handling            Yes                     No

4. Economy of manufacturing time         Yes                    No

5. Simplicity of production control          Yes                    No

6. Economy of inspection                      Yes                    No

7. Accumulation of work-in-progress      No                   Yes

8. Flexibility                                             No                  Yes

9. Scope for expansion                          No                   Yes

10. Full utilization of equipment              No                 Yes

11. Full utilization of workers                  No                 Yes

12. Adaptability in the breakdown          No                Yes

3. Combined or Mixed Plant Layout. In practice, plants are generally laid out neither on the pure line pattern nor on the pure functional basis. The basic features of these two types of layout are combined to derive the maximum advantage from them without incurring their disadvantages. It is usual for industries engaged in repetitive processes manufacturing standardized products to group expensive machines of a certain type for intensive use. Machine groupings of this type art then integrated into the ‘line’. Likewise special service, facilities like heavy cranes and fabrication stages calling for flexibility (say, welding) may be grouped for use on a number of different parts of a standard product.

4. Stationary or Static Plant Layout. This type of layout is used in those situations where the semi-finished goods are of such nature, size and weight that their movement from one place to the other is not Here, men, equipment and the materials is moved to a place where all the manufacturing action are carried on. Such layout is preferred in ship-building, locomotives, job-welding shops, construction of darns and bridges etc.

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