When a new plant is erected, the question of the placement of machinery at different places, the location of stores ,inspection cabins ,tool rooms, maintenance wings ,plating shops, heat treatment chambers ,toilets ,canteens, and trolleys, cranes and other handling equipments and the like ,receive a priority consideration .This is so because ,the efficiency of the production flow depends ,largely on how well the various machines ,production facilities and employee amenities are located in a plant In a properly laid out plant, the movement of materials, from the raw material stage to the end product stage ,is smooth and rapid; the movement is generally in a forward direction: the materials do not criss-cross ,or go backward and forward for further operations. Moreover, production bottlenecks and delays are few, and materials handling costs are reduced .Such arrangements constitute the subject matter of a plant layout.
A good deal of expertise is used by managements to secure a proper layout for new or existing plants .The use of expertise is necessary, because, there is no set pattern of layout for all plants. It differs from plant to plant, from location to location and from industry to industry. A lay-out which is good for a processing industry will not to be good for a job industry ;a layout which is suitable for a small-sized factory will not be suitable for a giant plant; or a layout fit for a plant located on a flat terrain cannot be suitable for a plant which is located on an uneven terrain. But the basic principles governing plant layout are more or less the same .Moreover, the initial layout is almost never final or permanent .Changes do take place in product design, production methods and the size of the plant. Such changes necessitate a revision of the existing layout.
Meaning, Definition and Scope
A plant layout refers to the arrangement of machinery, equipment and other industrial facilitiesâ€”such as receiving and shipping departments, tool rooms, maintenance rooms and employee amenitiesâ€”for the purpose of achieving the quickest and smoothest production at the least cost. The subject of plant layout not o0nly covers the initial layout of machines and other facilities but encompasses improvement in, or revisions of the existing layout in the light of subsequent developments in the methods of production .In other words, a plant layout is a floor plan for determining and arranging the desired machinery and equipment5 of a plant, whether established or contemplated, in the one best place to permit the quickest flow of material at the lowest cost and with the least amount of handling in processing the product from the receipt of the raw materials to the shipment of the finished products.
A more simple, clear and comprehensive definition is given by Knowles and Thomson. They say that a plant layout involves
1. Planning and arranging manufacturing machinery equipment, and services for the first time in completely new plants.
2. The improvements in layouts already in use in order to introduce new methods and improvements in manufacturing procedures.
Objectives of a Good Layout
Â· Provide enough production capacity
Â· Reduce material handling co0sts.
Â· Reduce congestion that impedes the movement of people or material
Â· Reduce hazards to personnel
Â· Utilize labor efficiently
Â· Increase employee morale
Â· Reduce accidents.
Â· Utilize available space efficiently and effectively
Â· Provide for volume and product flexibility
Â· Provide ease of supervision.
Â· Facilitate co-ordination and face-to-face communication where appropriate.
Â· Provide for employee safety and health.
Â· Allow ease of maintenance.
Â· Allow high machine/equipment utilization.
Â· Improve productivity.
The Plant Layout must also provide for future expansion phase wise either for increase in capacity or for backward and forward integration including provision for modernization or installation of state of the art equipments if any in future.