Revision of plant layout

A good plant layout involves not only the designing and installing of the layout for the first time, but also encompasses revision of the existing layout as well. The best layout becomes obsolete over a period of time. When a plant has remained unchanged for a number of years, it can be assumed that the layout is obsolete in some way. Revisions, ranging from minor alterations to a complete dismantling of the existing structure and installation of new layout, become necessary from time to time in order to increase and maintain the operating efficiency of the plant.

Reason for Revision

Generally speaking, the following developments necessitate a revision of the existing layout:
2.Technological advancements and
3.Improvement in the layout.

The reasons for revision are elaborated in the paragraphs that follow:
(i)Expansion: Expansion is a natural feature of any industrial establishment. A plant may expand in any one of the following ways:
(a)Increase in the output of the existing product:
(b)Introduction of a new product in the same line and
(c)Diversification of the lines of activity.

In order to cater to the ever-increasing demand of the product, the plant may have to install a few more machines or add machines of new designs and high capacity.

If there is a provision made in the original layout plan at the time of start up of the factory then subsequent addition of machines for increasing the capacity of production poses no problems. However if there is no such provision made in the original layout for adding machines then the layout planner will be facing problems in planning to install these additional machines. This is because the space in the factory hall would then be fully occupied by a particular category of machine group. If the new machine proposed to be installed belongs to this category then it may result in altogether dismantling and reelection of several machines jeopardizing the material flow of the earlier plant.

Expansion may also be achieved by introducing a new product in the same line. The sales of the existing product might decline because of keen competition. A product, of better quality and bigger size, may be introduced to offset the loss, the line of production being the same. The production of a new one may be carried out with the existing plant facilities; but such an arrangement should be temporary. The permanent solution is to add a new wing to the present plant or set up a new plant at a different place. The layout has to be freshly designed and installed.

Expansion may also be achieved through diversification. Diversification involves production of a product or products which are totally different from the existing ones. New lines are added by constructing new plants, generally at different places. There is no dearth of instances of diversification, because diversification, like expansion and foreign collaboration, is a symbol of progress and prestige for many managers of industrial establishments. Naturally, many managers try and succeed in effecting diversification. The layout problem for diversification would be the same as for a new plant.

(ii)Technological Advances: Thanks to industrial research, new products, new uses of existing products and materials, new machinery and new sources of energy have been, and are being discovered. Industrial research is an insurance against obsolescence of products, processes and plant layouts. Some of the technological advances are:

Replacement of labor by machines;
Development in fuel and energy;
Developments in process;
Developments in materials;
Improvements in product design and
Advancement in information technology.

(iii)Improving the Layout.
Layout needs constant attention from the management. It has to be reviewed and revised to correct any deficiencies which may have crept into the plant and which were originally unnoticed by the layout engineer. Even if the plant was perfectly laid initially, subsequent developments in materials, machines and methods might render the layout deficient. Generally speaking, the limitations in a layout go unchecked for two reasons:

1.The evils of a poor layout are a hidden cost not revealed even by the best accounting method and
2.Even if the limitations are revealed, the management may be unwilling to initiate remedial steps because there is a built-in adjustability to any circumstance in all human beings; and the management is no exception

What is needed is a progressive outlook and courage on the part of the management to rectify defects. Once noticed, they should be set right. These defects may be:

(a)Materials and work-in-progress move at a lower rate than expected, with backtrackings and crossovers.
(b)Materials handling costs are high.
(c)Aisles and individual work places are congested.
(d)Service departments are given inadequate space and are inconveniently located.
(e)Materials in process are frequently damaged.
(f)Frequent accidents happen to workers.
(g)There are delays in production schedule.
(h)There are no plans for future expansion.
(i0There is increased cost of production and reduced operational efficiency.

A revision of the layout to rectify these defects poses no serious problems because minor alterations in the existing plant would suffice.