What principles are to be followed in deciding a plant layout?
I think that the previous post raised some very good points. I would also like to add that the type of product being produced at the plant in question as well as its proximity to populated areas has to be considered. There are times when certain plants need to be located away from densely populated centers because of what they produce and the impact these products or byproducts might have on the public. In the issue of public safety, I would say that this has to be considered as part of a plant's location. For example, in 1984 the Union Carbide gas leak disaster in Bhopal, India resulted in one of the worst industrial catastrophes. While there were many causes and many lapses in judgment on many people's parts, one of the most overwhelming issues was why a plant producing pesticides was located in such a densely populated area. The death toll, the human cost, as well as the fact that some think that poison is still present in the area more than two decades after the leak happened helps to bring to light why location of populated areas and taking into account what is produced in both product and byproduct form is vitally important in selection of plant location and layout.
Design of plant layout involves decision of placement of various equipments and facilities in a manufacturing plant. The design attempts to achieve an optimum balance between several objectives which may often be conflicting with each other. The objectives to be optimized in designing a plant lay out include the following.
- Provide enough space for the various equipments, facilities and activities carried out in the plant. The facilities include the facility for storage and movement of raw material, work in progress and finished goods required or produced in the plant. The activities carried out in the plant include the manufacturing operations as well as maintenance activities.
- Facilitate smooth movement of material during manufacturing process.
- Reduce the material handling cost.
- Provide good and safe working environment for the people working in the plant.
- Reduce the total space requirement.
- Reduce the cost of facilities to be constructed or fabricated.
Plant Layout and its principles
A plant layout is the placing of the right items coupled with the right place and the right method, to permit the flow of production process through the shortest possible distance in the shortest possible time.
The principles of plant layout can be stated as-
1. Integration of all factors - The plant should integrate all the essential resources of men, machines and materials in order to give an optimum level of production.
2. Minimum Movement - The less the movement of men, machines and materials, the less will be the cost of production. Thus, minimum movement of theses resources will provide cost efficiency.
3. Unidirectional flow - All materials should progressively move towards the same direction i.e. towards the stage of completion. Any back-tracking should be avoided here.
4. Efficient space handling - The space used up during the plant work also costs money as more the space required, more will be the floor rent. The materials should be organized in stacks in a proper and recognizable order to maintain space efficiency.
5. Inherent safety - The environment of the plant should be safe for the workers as well as the machines. There should be fire extinguishers and fire exits placed strategically. There should be minimum contact of the labour to toxic chemicals and environment.
6. Maximum observation capacity - The layout of the plant should such that all of its resources and workforce can be observed and evaluated at all points in time. This helps in better supervision of work and helps in increasing both effectiveness and safety.
7. Maximum accessibility - The layout of the plant should ensure that all essential resources are accessible to the labour and machines without any delay. The aisles should be free from obstacles. The materials should be placed as close,to the machines concerned, as possible.
8. Minimum Handling - The ineffective handling of materials leads to a rise in cost. Materials should be handled in stacks and transferred in one go. Handling of a material twice in the same direction must be avoided.
9. Maximum protection - The layout should ensure the protection of the materials and machines while they are in the working or the storage stage. The security system should be efficient without making too many doors or barriers.
10. Maximum flexibility - The plant layout should not be rigid and permanent. If the need arises, the plant layout should be able to change itself without being expensive.