Product or Line Layout | Meaning | Features | Advantages, Disadvantages

What is a Product or Line Layout?

Product or line layout refers to the arrangement of productive machines and equipment in the order of manufacturing operations.

Product or Line Layout
Product or Line Layout – Meaning, Features, Merits, Demerits

In Product or Line Layout all machines that are needed to produce a product are arranged sequentially in a continuous line and the raw materials are fed into the first machine and the final product comes out of the last machine.

Line layout is used in a number of continuous type of industries such as sugar, paper, cement etc.

In a product layout the whole emphasis is given to the product that is manufactured. There will be a separate production line for each type of product. The same type of machines may be arranged differently in different lines. Sometimes, the machines for each line may also be different.

The object here is to arrange machines in the order of operations that are performed. Therefore, each work station – either machine or work bench does whatever operation on the product that follows the work done at the preceding work station, then passes the product to the next station in the line in which the next operation is performed.

Features of Product or Line Layout

According to Harold T. Amrine the features of product layout can be listed as follows:

1. Conveyorized movement of inventories.

2. Mechanical pacing of movement either partially or completely.

3. Semi-skilled operations operating two or more machines often.

4. Making use of highly specialized machines, jigs and fixtures etc.

5. Less need for detailed scheduling regarding production control.

6. Relatively small-in process inventory of parts with most of them in temporary storage on the inventory handling system.

7. Heavy investment in specialized machines, which has little flexibility.

8. Integration of the points of inspection into the line.

An important point to be noted here is that some of the features are advantages of the product layout, whereas others are its disadvantages.

Advantages of Product or Line Layout

1. Installation of Automatic Devices

As product layout ensures continuous flow of work through direct lines and short distance of travel, the installation of labor-saving and low-cost mechanical movement devices is made possible. This would reduce the cost of materials handling.

2. Elimination of Delay

In a product layout, material after completion of one operation flows to the next operation without any delay. Because of this, time required for production is reduced considerably.

3. Reduced Accumulation of Work-in-process

In a product layout, there is not much accumulation of work-in-process at one particular point because as soon as an operation is completed it passes on to the next machine for the next operation. As a result the overall productivity of the undertaking is enhanced.

4. Effective Control of Production

Production is designed according to an orderly sequence, and the work-in-process automatically flows from machine to machine. So the production control will be comparatively easy and simple. There would be lesser need for further clerical and administrative work for regulating the production.

5. Lesser Need for Inspection

There is lesser need for inspection because each complete product is made on one line, which requires minimum supervision work over it. Besides, efficiency of inspection increases due to the repetitive nature of the work.

6. Maximum Utilization of the Floor Area

Under this type of layout, there will be a greater productive utilization of the floor space. As the work-in-process spreads over the entire production line and there is a lesser need for temporary storage of materials, the vast floor area is not jam packed with materials, work-in-process etc. This would result in a smaller floor area per unit of output and thus making the total floor area more productive.

Disadvantages of Product or Line Layout

The important drawbacks of a product layout can be summarized as follows:

1. Less possibility of Optimum Utilization of Machines

There is lesser machine utilization, as it is suitable only for a continuous process. In a continuous process, if the production is stopped, all the machines that form the layout shall become idle. Similarly, if any machine in the line breaks down, the other machines in the same line cannot operate. Hence, optimum utilization of machines is impossible.

2. Inflexibility in its Operation

Inflexibility is a drawback of this type of layout. The machine layout is designed to perform certain operations. No machine in the line is perfectly interchangeable in capacity or type of work with any other machine. Any change over would lead to costly interruptions in manufacture.

3. Heavy Capital Investment

This type of layout requires heavy capital investment in machines and equipment due to duplication. If the same type of machine is needed for two production lines, two machines must be provided for each line to maintain the sequence of operation. Thus the whole enterprise becomes highly capital-intensive venture.

4. High Supervision Costs

Specialized supervision is necessary on account of diversity of operations in the same line of production, which always requires the appointment of expert personnel at a higher salary.

5. Difficulty in Expansion

The scope for further expansion is very much limited and almost impossible in cases where product lines are laid out for specific capacity.