Layout planning

Designing and installing a layout for the first time and its subsequent revision may be looked after by the Engineering or Planning Department. At times the services of outside consultants are engaged for the purpose. Large establishments with branches, subsidiaries and associate companies, may have a construction company as one of their subsidiaries, which discharges the responsibility of planning and constructing the plants of its family concerns, apart from accepting orders from outside.

There is no ready-made method available to anyone preparing the layout. The process of preparing a layout is an art as well as science, in spite of the advances made in the use of layouts. Naturally, the final layout will be a consummation of many trials, errors, and compromises. The final layout, which emerges out of trials and errors, may not be the best

To make the final layout as perfect as possible, the layout personnel would do well to proceed step by step in the process of layout planning.

The layout procedure might start with an analysis of the product to be manufactured and the expected volume of its production. An analysis of the product includes a study of the parts to be manufactured and/or bought, and the stages at which they should be assembled to obtain the end product. The volume of production is estimated in terms of market and management policies.

For a given product, at a stated volume of production, a process most appropriate must be determined. The process that is determined, like any other factor, may not be permanent because it will be influenced by changes in the volume of production, changes in the product and changes in equipment. The process which is decided upon, determines the type of equipment that would be needed to manufacture a given product at a given volume. The equipment requirements of a company vary with its methods of grouping machines or the type of layout, the main consideration being an increasing use of machines and not of labor. The equipment, which is selected, determines the number of workers that will be required.

The trend nowadays is to replace labor by machines, because that results in increased production, reduces costs, better quality and fewer labor troubles. But, the labor cannot be completely dispensed with; it would always be needed to switch on and switch off the machines, even if the whole plant is mechanized

At the fourth stage, product and volumes have led to a process which dictates the type of equipment which would be acquired and which, in turn, would require operators. But the operators require the services of indirect labor— of material handlers, janitors, maintenance staff, quality control staff and production supervisors. The arrangement of all these facilities and personnel constitutes the plant layout. Once the plant layout is designed, the layout engineer often engages the services of an architect or the construction division of the company to design the system