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Types of Plant Layout and Advantages

Types of Plant Layout

Layouts can be classified into the following categories:

  1. Process Layout
  2. Product Layout
  3. Fixed Position Layout
  4. Combination Layout
  5. Group Layout

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Process Layout

Process layouts are found primarily in job shops, or firms that manufacture customized, low-volume products that may require different processing requirements and sequences of operations.

Process layouts are facility configurations in which operations of a similar nature or function are grouped together.

As such, they occasionally are referred to as functional layouts.

Their purpose is to process goods or provide services that involve a variety of processing requirements.

Process layouts are also quite common in non-manufacturing environments. Examples include hospitals, colleges, banks, auto repair shops, and public libraries.

process layout example

Process Layout Advantages:

  • Better machine utilization
  • Highly flexible in allocating personnel and equipment because general purpose machines are used.
  • Diversity of tasks for personnel
  • Greater incentives to individual worker
  • Change in Product design and process design can be incorporated easily
  • More continuity of production in unforeseen conditions like breakdown, shortages, absenteeism

Process Layout Disadvantages:

  • Increased material handling
  • Increased work in process
  • Longer production lines
  • Critical delays can occur if the part obtained from previous operation is faulty
  • Routing and scheduling pose continual challenges

This is a typical store layout of Walmart:

Retail store layout of walmart

Product Layout

Product layouts are found in flow shops (repetitive assembly and process or continuous flow industries).

Flow shops produce high-volume, highly standardized products that require highly standardized, repetitive processes. In a product layout, resources are arranged sequentially, based on the routing of the products.

This type of layout is generally used in systems where a product has to be manufactured or assembled in large quantities.

In product layout the machinery and auxiliary services are located according to the processing sequence of the product without any buffer storage within the line itself.

Plant Layout of Coca-Cola:

plant layout of coca cola

Product Layout Advantages:

  • Low material handling cost per unit
  • Less work in process
  • Total production time per unit is short
  • Low unit cost due to high volume
  • Less skill is required for personnel
  • Smooth, simple, logical, and direct flow
  • Inspection can be reduced
  • Delays are reduced

Product Layout Disadvantages:

  • Machine stoppage stops the line
  • Product design change or process change causes the layout to become obsolete
  • Slowest station paces the line
  • Higher equipment investment usually results
  • Less machine utilization
  • Less flexible

product layout

Two types of lines are used in product layouts: paced and unpaced.

Paced Lines:

Paced lines can use some sort of conveyor that moves output along at a continuous rate so that workers can perform operations on the product as it goes by.

For longer operating times, the worker may have to walk alongside the work as it moves until he or she is finished and can walk back to the workstation to begin working on another part (this essentially is how automobile manufacturing works).

Unpaced Lines:

On an unpaced line, workers build up queues between workstations to allow a variable work pace. However, this type of line does not work well with large, bulky products because too much storage space may be required.

Also, it is difficult to balance an extreme variety of output rates without significant idle time.

Fixed Position Layout

A fixed-position layout is appropriate for a product that is too large or too heavy to move. For example, battleships are not produced on an assembly line.

Other fixed-position layout examples include construction (e.g., buildings, dams, and electric or nuclear power plants), shipbuilding, aircraft, aerospace, farming, drilling for oil, home repair, and automated car washes.


In order to make this work, required resources must be portable so that they can be taken to the job for “on the spot” performance.

In this type of layout, the product is kept at a fixed position and all other material; components, tools, machines, workers, etc. are brought and arranged around it. Then assembly or fabrication is carried out. The layout of the fixed material location department involves the sequencing and placement of workstations around the material or product.

fixed position layout

Advantages of Fixed Position Layout:

Disadvantages of Fixed Position Layout:

  • May result in increase space and greater work in process
  • Requires greater skill for personnel
  • Personnel and equipment movement is increased
  • Requires close control and coordination in production and personnel scheduling

Combination Layout

Many situations call for a mixture of the three main layout types. These mixtures are commonly called combination or hybrid layouts.

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For example, one firm may utilize a process layout for the majority of its process along with an assembly in one area. Alternatively, a firm may utilize a fixed-position layout for the assembly of its final product, but use assembly lines to produce the components and sub-assemblies that make up the final product (e.g., aircraft).

Cellular Manufacturing or Group Layout

Cellular manufacturing is a type of layout where machines are grouped according to the process requirements for a set of similar items (part families) that require similar processing. These groups are called cells.

Therefore, a cellular layout is an equipment layout configured to support cellular manufacturing.

cellular manufacturing layout

Processes are grouped into cells using a technique known as group technology (GT). Group technology involves identifying parts with similar design characteristics (size, shape, and function) and similar process characteristics (type of processing required, available machinery that performs this type of process, and processing sequence).

Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS)

An automated version of cellular manufacturing is the flexible manufacturing system (FMS). With an FMS, a computer controls the transfer of parts to the various processes, enabling manufacturers to achieve some of the benefits of product layouts while maintaining the flexibility of small batch production.

Some of the advantages of cellular manufacturing include:

  • Cost. Cellular manufacturing provides for faster processing time, less material handling, less work-in-process inventory, and reduced setup time, all of which reduce costs.
  • Flexibility. Cellular manufacturing allows for the production of small batches, which provides some degree of increased flexibility. This aspect is greatly enhanced with FMSs.
  • Motivation. Since workers are cross-trained to run every machine in the cell, boredom is less of a factor. Also, since workers are responsible for their cells’ output, more autonomy and job ownership is present.

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