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Design of an Ideal Plant Layout

Design of an Ideal Plant Layout

Approach to proper layout:

When a new plant is erected, a good deal of expertise is used by management to design a proper layout. A comprehensive approach with regard to the placement of machineries, location of stores, inspection cabins, tool rooms, maintenance wings, receiving and shipping departments, toilets, canteens and other handling equipments, is necessary for achieving quick and smooth production at the least cost. There is no set pattern of layout for all plants. What is suitable for a giant plant will not be fit for a small factory. What goes well with a processing industry may not match a job industry. But, the basic principles governing a plant layout are more or less the same.

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Cost of Production:

The all time concern of big industries is the ever rising cost of production. Their priority would be mass production or continuous production to factorise the economy of scale. This is possible where industries are involved in producing highly standardized products. Industries involved in the production of customized or specialized products, catering to premium customers, cannot go for mass production since it is not a feasible option. They have to dedicate separate lines of production for different products. Invariable of the type of production, all industries need to cut down their costs wherever possible. The only possible solution is to design a suitable layout that facilitates uniform and minimum movement of materials thus avoiding wastage, minimization of production delays and avoidance of bottlenecks.

An ideally laid plant layout reduces manufacturing costs through reduced materials handling, reduced personnel and equipment requirements and reduced in-process inventory. It is amazing how industries in Japan have mastered the art of employing Just-in-time concept, which focuses on continuous improvement and increases the rate of return on investment by reducing the in-process inventory and associated costs. The importance of plant layout would be better appreciated if one understands the influence of an efficient layout on the manufacturing function.

An efficient plant layout would definitely incorporate the following aspects:

  • Economies in handling-cut down material handling costs that account for 30-40 percent of the manufacturing cost
  • Effective use of available space-especially in urban areas, where every inch of available space is an asset.
  • Minimization of production delays-on time delivery schedules and speedy execution will help.
  • Improved quality control-to reach expected standards of production
  • Minimum equipment investment-by planned machine balance and location
  • Identification and rectification of bottlenecks-don’t allow materials to pile up at any place of production, don’t allow workers to be lethargic, keep the machines in the best of condition to speed up operations
  • Better production control-facilitated by a planned layout
  • Better supervision-a good plant layout enables the supervisor to have a hawks eye on the entire shop floor
  • Improved utilization of labor-process flow should be planned in such a way that workers should be equipped all the time without any lull
  • Improved employee morale-by providing better working conditions, employee facilities, increased earnings, reduced accidents etc. ,

Scope for Expansion:

A good plant layout must also have scope for expansion or revision in future. Even best layouts become obsolete over a period of time, so revisions ranging from minor alterations to a complete dismantling of the existing structure and installation of a new layout become necessary from time to time. Manufacturers, who are keen to survive the global competition, must consider revising their layouts which should fall in line with technological and market innovations.

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