Plant Layout is one of the most important factors for a new industrial enterprise, after deciding the location of the plant. It pertains to planning of the space available for all the activities and facilities associated with manufacturing with a view to enable the plant to function effectively.
Definition of Plant Layout
Plant layout includes the arrangement and location of work centres and various service centres like inspection, storage, and shipping within the factory building.
In the words of James Lundy,
Plant Layout identically involves the allocation of space and the arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimized.
Thus, development of a proper layout for a plant calls for a careful planning. Such a planning involves a considerations of the technical aspects of the machinery and equipment and processes of manufacture, etc. Management executives can benefit considerably by involving a highly qualified engineer while designing a plant layout. In this way, plant layout is a joint product of both the disciplines, namely, engineering and management.
Characteristics of an Efficient Layout
The designing of a plant layout should be such that it should maximize the return and minimize the cost of production. The following are the characteristics of a plant layout.
1. Smooth flow of production
Plant layout should be in such a way that there must be a smooth flow of production. Raw materials and workers must have access to each machine without any difficulty and delay.
2. Maximum utilization of available space
An efficient plant layout must be such that may utilize the maximum of the space available.
3. Facilities the movement of men, materials and machines, etc.
There must be sufficient space left in between different machines so that raw materials, workers and machines move very easily from one place to another, without the fear of accident.
4. Involves minimum handling
The various machines in a good layout must be arranged in such a manner that the product of one operation may pass on to the next operation with a minimum of handling. It will reduce wastage of raw materials and labour hours.
5. Provides better working conditions
A good plant layout must have facilities such as water, ventilation, retiring room, etc., in the plant. It should also safeguard the health of the workers.
A good layout must be flexible enough so as to incorporate any change in the management policies. It must be capable of incorporating, without major change, new equipment to meet technological progress, or increased production requirement or to eliminate waste.
7. Location of stores
The stores in a plant must be located in such a place from where raw materials, tools, equipment and other materials may be supplied to the departments concerned easily, without any delay.
8. Facilitates supervision and control
The position of workers must be arranged in such a way that it facilitates supervision, coordination and control.
9. Provision of safety
There must be complete safety for workers engaged on a machine. Necessary instructions must be given to them about the risks involved while working in certain type of machines. Provisions of Factories Act must be followed in real spirit.
10. Co-ordination and integration
If the plant layout is efficient enough, it is possible to achieve maximum with coordination and integration among men, machines and materials.
A decision to manufacture some new or modified products may necessitate a reorganization of the existing plant or provision of additional facilities. The reasons for change are due to variation in the level of demand, change in the location of product markets, change in style and obsolescence or failure of existing equipment.