Techniques or Tools Used for the Design of Good Plant Layouts

An ideal plant layout should provide the optimum relationship among output, floor area and manufacturing process. It facilitates the production process, minimizes material handling, time and cost, and allows flexibility of operations, easy production flow, makes economic use of the building, promotes effective utilization of manpower, and provides for employee’s convenience, safety, comfort at work, maximum exposure to natural light and ventilation. It is also important because it affects the flow of material and processes, labor efficiency, supervision and control, use of space and expansion possibilities etc.

Recommended Reading: Plant layouts – Definition and Objectives

In designing or improving the plan of plant layout, certain techniques or tools are developed and are in common use today. The techniques or tools are as follows:

1. Charts and Diagrams:

In order to achieve work simplification, production engineers make use of several charts and diagrams for summarizing and analyzing production process and procedure. These include

  • Operation process chart: It subdivides the process into separate operations and inspection. When a variety of parts and products are manufactured which follow a different path across several floor areas, an operation process chart may be necessary for the important material items or products. The flow lines of the charts indicate the sequence of all operation in the manufacturing cycle.
  • Flow process chart: This chart is the graphic summary of all the activities taking place on the production floor of an existing plant. By preparing this type of chart, it can be found out as to where operations can be eliminated , rearranged, combined, simplified or subdivided for greater economy.
  • Process flow diagram: The diagram is both supplement and substitute of process flow chart. It helps in tracing the movement of material on a floor plan or layout drawing. A diagram may be drawn to scale on the original floor plan to show the movement of work. It is a good technique to show long materials hauls and backtracking of present layouts, thereby indicating how the present layout may be improved. Colored lines can show the flow of several standards products.

Layouts, thereby indicating how the present layout may be improved. Colored lines can show the flow of several standard products. This diagram can be used to analyze the effectiveness of the arrangement of the plant activities, the location of specific machines, and the allocation of space. It shows how a more logical arrangement and economical flow of work can be devised.

2. Machines Data Card:

This card provides full information necessary for the placement and layout of equipment. The cards are prepared separately for each machine. The information generally given on these cards include facts about the machine such as capacity of the machines, space occupied, power requirements, handling devices required and dimensions.

3. Templates:

Template is the drawing of a machine or tool cut out from the sheet of paper. Cutting to scale shows the area occupied by a machine. The plant layout engineer prepares a floor plan on the basis of reel vent information made available to him. The template technique is an important technique because (i) it eliminates unnecessary handlings, (ii) minimize backtracking of materials, (iii) it makes the mechanical handling possible, (iv) it provides a visual picture of proposed or existing plan of layout at one place, (v) it offers flexibility to meet future changes in the production requirements.

4. Scale Models:

Though the two-dimensional templates are now in extensive use in the fields of layout engineering but it is not much use to executives who cannot understand and manipulate them. One important drawback of template technique is that it leaves the volume, depth, height and clearance of the machines to the imaginations of the reader of the drawing. These drawbacks of the template technique have been removed through the development of miniature scale models of machinery and equipment cast in metal. With scale models, it has now become possible to move tiny figures of men and machines around in miniature factory .The miniature machines and models of material handling equipment are placed in a miniature plant and moved around in pawn on a chessboard.

5. Layout Drawings:

Completed layouts are generally represented by drawings of the plant showing wall, columns, stairways, machines and other equipment’s, storage areas and office areas.

The above techniques and tools are used for the planning of layout for the new plant.

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