Types of plant layout

Fixed Position Layout

As the term itself implies, fixed layout involves the movement of men and machines to the product which remain stationary. In this type of layout, the material or major components remain in a fixed location, and tools, machinery and men as well as other pieces of material are brought to this location. The movement of men and machines to the product is advisable because the cost of moving them would be less than the cost of moving the product which is very bulky.

Also called the fixed location layout, this type is followed in the manufacture of bulky and heavy products such as locomotives, ships, boilers, aircraft and generators. The construction of a building requires a fixed location layout because men, cement, sand, bricks, steel, wood and others are taken to the site of the construction. This is equally true of a brick kiln. Another example is that of a hospital, where doctors and nurses (workers) and medicines and other paraphernalia (materials) are taken to the patient (product).

The advantages of a fixed position layout are:

1.Men and machines can be used for a wide variety of operations producing different products.
2.The investment on layout is very small.
3.The worker identifies himself with the product and takes pride in it when the work is complete.
4.The high cost of and difficulty in transporting a bulky product are avoided.

Cellular Manufacturing (CM) Layout

In CM, machines are grouped into cells and the cells function somewhat like a product layout within a larger shop or process layout. Each cell in the CM layout is formed to produce a single parts family—a few parts, all with common characteristics, which usually means that they require the same machines and have similar machine settings.

Advantages of CM

Among the advantages of cellular layouts are lower work-in-process inventories, reduced material handling costs, shorter flow times in production, simplified production planning (material and labor), increased operator responsibilities, improved visual control and fewer tooling changes, therefore facilitating quicker set-ups. Overall performance often increases by lowering production costs and improving delivery on time. Quality also tends to improve.

Disadvantages of CM

Disadvantages include reduced manufacturing flexibility and potentially increased machine-down time ( since machines are contained to cells and may not be used all the time) and finally duplicate pieces of equipment may be needed so that parts need not be transported between cells.

Combined Layout

The application of the principle of product layout, process layout or fixed location layout in their strict meanings is difficult to come across. A combination of the product and process layouts, with an emphasis on either, is noticed in most industrial establishments. Plants are never laid out in either pure form. It is possible to have both types of layout in an efficiently combined form if the products manufactured are somewhat similar and not complex.

In plants involving the fabrication of parts and assembly, fabrication tends to employ the process layout, while the assembly areas often employ the product layout. In soap manufacturing plants, the machinery manufacturing soap is arranged on the product-line principle; but ancillary services, such as heating, the manufacturing of glycerine, the powerhouse, the water treatment plant are arranged on a functional basis.

To extend the logic of the combined layout, we may refer to the application of the fixed location principle in every industrial establishment. Is it not true that workers are bought from different places in buses to the factory every day? Will not material and tools be carried to the place of manufacture every time?

To sum up

In the final analysis, the combination that produces the desired volumes of products at the least total cost is preferred. Marketing is concerned with maximizing income, industrial engineering is concerned with minimizing cost and management is gambling that there is a sufficient difference in its favor

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