Production Management

Tools and Techniques for Plant Layout

It should be observed that the layout of an organization has an impact on its other functional areas. There is strong interaction between layout planning and other decision areas such as work measurement and methods study.

The common techniques for Plant Layout

1. Process Flow Chart: It is a graphic summary of all the activities to take place on the production floor of the plant. The study of this chart can reveal the operations that can be eliminated, rearranged or simplified to achieve economy in production. The inflexibility of layout can also be ascertained from this chart.

2. Process flow diagram : It is both a supplement and substitute of flow chart. It exhibits long material hauls and back tracking of existing layouts indicating how the layout can be improved.

3. Machine data cards : This is an effective method to provide necessary information for placement or layout of the equipment. These cads are prepared for each machine showing its capacity, space and power requirements, handling needs and the corresponding dimensions.

4. Two or three dimensional replicas or Templates : The most common method of planning a layout is to make replicas of machines, racks, benches and the equipment and then arranging these on the two or three dimensional plan of the floor space.

(a) Two dimensional plan or Templates : The method consists of following steps

(i) scale drawing of the available floor space is drawn showing the positions of columns, electrical fittings, power, water, gas, elevators, rest rooms and other significant features.

(ii) a layout plan is chalked out by positioning the machine replicas on the drawing.

(iii) plan is then critically examined with respect to work flow, utilization of floor space, availability of service facilities like tool sheds, stock rooms etc.

(iv) alternative plans are drawn by rearranging the replicas and comparative evaluation is made to select the best layout. The layout selected at this stage can be the basis for re-planning the layout when some expansion or modernization is contemplated.

(b) Three-dimensional Plan : To have a better understanding about the depth, height etc. of machines, scale or miniature models are constructed in place of templates. Here one uses tiny figures of men and machines like pawns in the game of chess. The three-dimensional models are expensive but provides clarity and vividness.

The model of a layout can be made by studying the operations involved in the production process

(i) key operations are located.

(ii) locate main and minor gangways. These should be preferred near the
walls and not across the floor.

(iii) locate the subsidiary equipment viz, rubbish bins, telephones etc. In a good layout packing department should be near to dispatching point whereas inspection place should be located near the windows for proper daylight.

In addition to this the following specific points should be kept in mind for the layout of machines

(i) space occupied by a machine must include some overhang space for the travel of any part or for the movement of material.

(ii) gangways must be adequate for the collection and delivery of material.

(iii) floors must be strong enough not only to carry the machine load but also to bear the load of semi-finished and finished goods.

(iv) servicing facilities and safety devices must be easily accessible.

(v) sufficient space around the machine must be provided so that operator can move freely to do his work.

5. Scale Models. These models are small : replicas of machines and equipment. These three-dimensional models indicate the production process on a small scale. Miniature scale models are tiny figures of machines and men. Models are constructed from cardboard, wood, sheet metal or plastic. These are used for complex layouts involving costly initial investments. They are scale reproduction of different items of equipment such as storage, fixtures, rocks, benches, stairs, elevators, handling devices, etc. They are helpful in determining the space required by equipment items and in detecting weaknesses for revision of plans.


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