Production and Operations Management

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PLANT LAYOUT Operation Management
This unit teaches you about:
The concept of plant layout
The basic principles, objectives and advantages of plant layout
The different kinds of plant layout
Plant design models
Need for plant layout
The significance of plant layout
Essentials of a good plant layout
Advantages of good plant layout
Types of Plant layout
Plant layout problems are fundamental to all kinds of organizations and are experienced in all kinds of undertakings. For instance, a housewife must arrange her kitchen, a retailer must arrange his counter and display items in a manner that facilitates movement, and attracts the attention of customers. The office management positions furniture and interiors in such a way that it facilitates the flow of work. A manufacturing organization must arrange its facilities, so as to assist the smooth flow of products. The simple meaning of the word ‘layout’ is an arrangement. Plant layout is the physical configuration of departments, work stations and equipment in the conversion process. It is the spatial arrangement of physical resources to create the product. It is a set of those activities which locate and move the work table in a way that all inputs of equipment, raw materials, machines, tools, fixtures and workers are given a proper place.
Professor F.G. Moore says, “A good plant layout is one which allows materials rapidly and directly for processing. This reduces transport handling, electrical and other costs down per remit, space requirements are minimised and it reduces idle machine and idle man time.”
Professors Knowles and Thomson defined the phrase ‘plant layout’ as something that stands for:1) Planning and arranging manufacturing machinery, equipment and services for the first time in completely new plants and 2)Improvements in the layouts already in use in order to introduce new methods and improvements in manufacturing procedures.
According to James Lundy, ‘Layout identically involves the allocation of space and arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimised. Though layout stands for the arrangement of facilities, every arrangement need not be called a sound plant layout.’
The need for plant layout becomes inevitable on several occasions backed by rational causes and forces. Of these, the most significant ones are described as follows:
Plant layout helps to produce newly designed products.
Plant layout is useful to introduce a new product line in the production process.
A good design can help the organization meet the increased demand for output.
Plant layout helps in the reduction of industrial accidents.
Plant layout is needed to cope up with changes in the technology of production
Plant layout is necessary when there is a relocation of the plant from one place to another.
Plant layout is both the art and science of planning the processing of a product unit in the most effective manner, through the shortest possible distance and time. Put in other words, it is the array of production machinery, work centres and collateral facilities and activities for the purpose of achieving efficiency in manufacturing a product or supplying consumer services. A plant layout is the arrangement of the production processes, storeroom, stock room, tool room, material- handling equipment, racks and sub-stores, employee services and all other accessories that are required for facilitating the production in the factory. As it encompasses production and service facilities and provides for the most effective utilisation of the men, materials and machines constituting the process, it is a master plan or blueprint for coordinating all operations performed inside the factory. In precise terms, it involves the ideal and judicious allocation of space and arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimised
Plant layout signifies the arrangement of machinery, equipment and other industrial facilities like recurring storage and supply of raw materials, supplies and final products, tool room, maintenance room, employee amenities such as restrooms, canteens, crèches and material-handling equipment so as to attain the highest efficiency of the production flow. Plant layout is the integrating phase of the design of the production system
Plant layout is the method of allocating machines and equipment to various production processes and other necessary services involved in the transformation process of a product within the available space of the factory. The requisites of a sound plant layout are unique. A good layout brings home comforts and convenience, safety, efficiency, compactness and profits. On the other hand, a poor
Layout drives home congestion, inefficiency, rigidity and reduced profits. The following are the requisites of a good plant layout.
Departmentation: A good plant layout strongly believes in the departmentalization of a factory into a viable number of divisions or compartments that facilitate the smooth flow of production.
Systematic arrangement: A sound plant layout works on a scientific, orderly and well thought out way to coordinate, smoothen and quicken the process of production. A good layout will help to increase the output, improve the quality of output and reduce the cost of output. This, in fact, means the greatest achievement of what the society expects.
Proper maintenance: Plant and Machinery are the major installations and machines, which are founded firmly at a place, or places as per the production design system. However, equipment and tools are minor machinery and appliances including hand tools which are movable from one work centre to another.
Helpful for Material Handling: The stock of raw material moves, from one department to another and in the same department from one machine to another, in the course of manufacturing. This needs flexible and reliable material-handling. Other auxiliary services also need to be made available in the very course of conversion.
The utilisation of Space: Arrangement of the plant, equipment, appliances and hand-tools in an orderly way is essential to increase the effective utilisation of the floor space in the production departments.
To Facilitate the Manufacturing Processes: The basic aim of any sound layout is to bring into play the kind of manufacturing process that makes the processing optimal.
To Minimise Material Handling: A good arrangement makes it possible for the direct flow of raw materials and semi-finished products without resorting to backtracking. A good material-handling arrangement saves space, provides conveniences to save energy on the part of the workers and the energy saved is actually energy earned.
To Maintain a High Rate of Turnover of Semi-finished Goods: A good layout guarantees a high rate of turnover of semi-finished goods through the scientific and sequential arrangement of plant machines and equipment providing ease to the workers.
To Ensure Employee Satisfaction: The manpower employed in the plant needs all the facilities and conveniences that can help ensure that their energy. The facilities should make the workforce feels so comfortable that they consider work as play. All of this will lead to better physical working conditions to enhance worker comfort. Again, job-satisfaction is much more important than job-security for workers. It is a state of mind and to a certain extent depends on physical facilities. In other words, better and safer working conditions, employee facilities and increased earnings boost employee morale.
To Ensure Effective Use of Manpower: Effective utilisation can be brought about only by reducing particularly abnormal idle-time which costs but gives no output. Such abnormal idle-time is generally caused by waiting for instruction and material, the breakdown of materials, current failure and so on. Such unwanted idle-time can be reduced to a minimum through the use of all the machines to their full capacity so that production capacity can be maintained steadily.
To Facilitate Production Planning: A sound plant layout helps in the concept and spirit of production planning and control. Hence, a good plant layout is essential for all stages of production planning and control.
Quality of production: A plant layout is helpful in producing quality products. Every organization aims at producing an output with the least defects and high quality.
In order to achieve the objectives of an ideal plant layout, the design engineers are to follow certain principles, which can be called fundamentals of a good plant layout. Whilst the techniques employed are industrial engineering techniques, the process is a creative one, which cannot be set down with any finality. The process is one in which experience plays a very great role. Further, it is impossible to define a ‘good’ layout with any precision. However, there are certain criteria, which may be satisfied by a layout. These fundamental parameters or principles are described as under. An alert manager cares for these fundamentals because he wants to get the best out of everyone despite the constraints and restraints under which he is working.
The Principle of Integration:
An effective plant layout must be capable of integrating all the pertinent factors affecting the factory layout such as materials, men, machines, methods, and all the supporting activities in the most logical and balanced manner. It implies a perfect fusion to give a sense of compactness. It is essential that all these factors of production must be procured in the right quantity and proportion at the right time. It is so because, the aim is to get the best out of each factor of production so as to reduce the overall cost and improve the quality.
Objectives of a plant layout:
To ensure that work proceeds from one point to another point inside the plant without any delay
To provide adequate safety to the workers from the accidents
To meet the quality and capacity requirement in the most economical manner
To provide medical facilities and cafeteria at suitable and convenient places
To provide an efficient handling system.
To suggest improvements in the production process and work methods
To provide better supervision and control of operations
To ensure careful planning in order to avoid frequent changes in layout, which may result in an undue increase in the cost of production?
To ensure proper and efficient utilisation of available floor space
To ensure that economies in materials facilitate the manufacturing process and the handling of semi-finished goods and finished goods.
A good layout can provide a number of advantages to the workers and the management. Some of these are listed below:
Advantages to the worker:
A lesser number of operations and material-handling
Reduction in length halves and motions between operations minimises the production time as well as the activities of the workers.
More labour productivity, i.e., more output per hour, low work in progress and high turnover.
More safety and security to the plants
Better working conditions resulting in improved efficiency
Advantages in terms of manufacturing costs:
Maintenance and replacement costs are reduced.
Loss due to spoilage and wastage is minimised.
Improvement in the quality of the product
Reduction in wastage of material handling as there is an improvement in technology.
Better cost control.
Advantages in production control and supervision:
Provides more space for production operations.
Control and supervision operations are provided at appropriate points.
Better and convenient storage facilities.
Scientific arrangement for receipt and transportation and delivery of raw materials and finished goods.
Results in less inspection facility.
Costs incurred in the supervision of the production process are minimised.
The layout of the manufacturing system can be classified into three main categories as follows:
Line or product layout
Functional or product layout
Stationary or fixed layout
Line or product layout:
Here, the position of a particular machine/equipment is determined at some definite stage or place where the machine is required to perform some operations from a sequence of operations designed to manufacture the product. It is assumed that materials are transferred into products through a series of integrated operations arranged in the order of sequence. The position or the order in the sequence for a machine performing a particular operation is fixed. Once a machine is in line, it cannot perform any operation which is not designed in the sequence of operations. This layout can be in the shape of the ‘line’ or ‘U’. Here, equipment or machines are arranged according to the needs of the product and in the same sequence, according to the operations necessary for the manufacture of the product. There is a continuous flow of material during the production process from start to finish. This type of layout is used for the continuous type of manufacturing systems, producing items of the same type on a mass scale, for example, textile, sugar, petroleum, paper, etc.
While grouping machines according to product type, the principles that need to be kept in mind are as follows:
All the machine tools or the other items of equipment must be placed at the point demanded by the sequence of operations.
At no point should one line cross another line.
Materials may be fed where they are required for assembly, but not necessarily all at one point.
All the operations including assembly, testing and packing should be included in the line.
There is mechanization of material handling which results in a reduction of material- handling the cost.
This type of layout avoids production bottlenecks.
There is an economy in manufacturing time.
The layout facilitates better production control.
It requires less floor area per unit of production.
Work-in-progress is reduced and investment thereon, minimised.
Early detection of mistakes or badly produced items is possible.
There is greater incentive to a group of workers to raise their level of performance.
Product layout is known for its inflexibility.
This type of layout is also expensive.
There is difficulty with supervision.
The expansion is also difficult.
Any breakdown of equipment along the production line can disrupt the whole system.
In this layout, more emphasis is given to specialisation or functional homogeneity of various components of the system. All operations of a similar nature are grouped together in the same department or are part of the factory. Here, machines performing the same type of operations are installed at one place, i.e., the plant is grouped according to the functions. For example, all drilling machines are located at one place known as the drilling section. Similarly, operations are classified into different sections such as milling, molding, packaging, etc. This type of layout is most appropriate for intermittent jobs and batch-type manufacturing systems where small quantities of a large range of products are to be manufactured, e.g., machine tools, custom-made furniture, etc.
While grouping machines according to process type, certain principles must be kept in mind. These are:
The distance between departments needs to be as short as possible with a view to avoiding long-distance movement of materials.
Though similar machines are grouped together in one department, the departments themselves should be located in accordance with the principle of the sequence of operations.
Convenience for inspection and supervision. Process layout may be advantageously used in light and heavy engineering industries, made-to-order furniture industries and the like.
Reduced investment in plant and machinery.
Greater flexibility in production, planning and control.
Excellent supervision is possible through specialisation
There is greater scope for expansion as the capacities of different lines can be easily increased.
This type of layout results in better utilisation of men and machines.
There is full utilisation of equipment.
There is a greater incentive for the individual worker to increase his performance.
There is difficulty in the movement of materials. Mechanical devices for handling materials cannot be conveniently used.
This type of layout requires more floor space.
There is difficulty in production control.
Production time is more as work-in-progress has to travel from place to place in search of machines.
There is an accumulation of work-in-progress in different places.
According to Sergeant Florence, the location should be explained as the degree of dissimilarity between the geographical distribution of the industry and the population of the country. In case the location factor works out to be unity, it means that the industry is evenly distributed. When it is above unity, the region is said to have more industry than due to it, but if it is less than unity, it means that the region does not have sufficient share of the industry.
The coefficient of localisation indicates the tendency of a particular industry to concentrate or disperse in a particular area. It can be worked out by dividing the deviations of the regional proportion of workers in a particular industry by the regional proportion of workers in all industries. Industries, which are concentrated in some regions, have a high coefficient of localisation. The theory given by Sergeant Florence has been criticised on many grounds. This theory explains only the existing state of distribution of industries in a country. It is not concerned at all with providing any guidelines for the future location of industries.
In fixed-position layouts, the materials or major components remain in a fixed position, and workers, materials, and equipment are moved as needed.
Fixed-position layout is used when a product is very bulky, heavy or fragile
Fixed-position layouts are used in large construction projects (buildings, power plants, and dams), shipbuilding, and production of large aircraft and space mission rockets.
Fixed-position layouts are widely used for farming, firefighting, road building, home building, remodeling and repair.
Cellular manufacturing is a type of layout in which machines are grouped into what is referred to as a cell.
Groupings are determined by the operations needed to perform work for a set of similar items, or part families that require similar processing.
The cellular layout provides faster processing time, less material handling, less work-in-process inventory, and reduced setup time.
Used when the operations system must handle a moderate variety of products in moderate volumes
Actually, most manufacturing facilities use a combination of layout types.
An example of a hybrid layout is where departments are arranged according to the types of processes but the products flow through on a product layout.
For instance, supermarket layouts are fundamentally of a process nature, and however we find most use fixed-path material-handling devices such as roller-type conveyors both in the stockroom and at checkouts and belt-type conveyors at the cash registers.
Hospitals also use the basic process arrangement, although frequently patient care involves more of a fixed-position approach, in which nurses, doctors, medicines, and special equipment are brought to the patient.
This unit deals with the fundamentals of plant layout and essentials of a good plant layout. Plant layout is the physical configuration of departments, work stations and equipment in the conversion process. It is the spatial arrangement of physical resources to create the product. It is a set of those activities which locate and move the work table in a way that all inputs of equipment, raw materials, machines, tools, fixtures and workers are given a proper place. A good plant layout is one which allows materials rapidly and directly for processing. This reduces transport handling, electrical and other costs down per remit, space requirements are minimised, and it reduces idle machine and idle man time. We have also discussed about types of plant layout and their respective advantages.
What do you understand by Plant Layout? Explain different types of layouts.
What are the advantages of good plant layout?
What is the significance of the Sergeant Florence Theory in decisions related to plant location?
Dr B.S.Goel, Production and Operations Management, Pragati Prakashan, Meerut, 2002.
Russell Staylor, “Operations Management”, Seventh Edition, Wiley India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi,2014
Mahadevan, “Operations Management Theory and Practice” Second Edition, Pearson, New Delhi.
James R. Evans, David A. Collier, “Operations Management Concepts, Techniques and Applications”, Cengage Learning India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi,2015
Aswathappa, K. Shridhar Bhat, “Production and Operations Management”, Latest Edition, Himalaya Publishing House, Mumbai,2014

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