Types of Plant Layout – what is plant layout in operations management? It begins with the design of the factory building and goes up to the location and movement of a work table. After discussing the objectives of plant layout, this article explains their types. The types of Plant Layout are the main three; process, product, and stationary layout, but in the modern world two extra types; combination and Fixed position Layout. All the facilities like equipment, raw materials, machinery, tools, futures, workers, etc. give a proper place.

Here is explain the what is plant layout in operations management. Types: process layout, product layout, stationary layout, combination layout, and Fixed position layout.

There are three main types of plant layout in operations management: 1) Functional or process layout, 2) product or line layout, and 3) stationary layout. Other types; are 4) Combination and 5) Fixed Position Layout. However, the choice of one or the other type of layout depends upon the machines and techniques used in the production.

Process Layout:

It knows as the functional layout and stands characterized by keeping similar machines or similar operations at one location (place). In other words, separate departments establishing for each specialized operation of production, and machines relating to that functions assemble there.

For example, all lathe machines will be in one place, all milling machines in another, and so on. This type of layout is generally employed for industries to engage in job order production and non-standardized products.

Advantages of Process Layout:

The following advantages of Process Layout below are;

  • Wide flexibility exists as regards allotment of work to equipment and workers. The production capacity does not arrange in rigid sequence and fixed-rate capacity with line balancing. Alterations or changes in the sequence of operations can easily make as and when required without upsetting the existing plant layout types plan for operations management.
  • Better quality product, because the supervisors and workers attend to one type of machines and operations.
  • A variety of jobs, coming in different job orders make the work more interesting for workers.
  • Workers in one section do not affect by the nature of operations carried out in another section. e.g. a lathe operator does not affect the rays of welding as the two sections are quite separate.
  • Like product layout, the breakdown of one machine does not interrupt the entire production flow.
  • This type of layout requires lesser financial investment in machines and equipment because general-purpose machines, which are usually of low costs, are used and duplication of the machine avoids. Moreover, general-purpose machines do not depreciate or become obsolete as rapidly as specialized machines. It results in lower investment in machines.
  • Under process layout, better and more efficient supervision is possible because of specialization in operation.

Disadvantages of Process Layout:

The following disadvantages of Process Layout below are;

  • Automatic material handling is extremely difficult because fixed material handling equipment like conveyor belts cannot possibly use.
  • Completion of the same product takes more time.
  • Raw material has to travel larger distances for getting processed into finished goods. This increases material handling and associated costs.
  • It is not possible to implement group incentive schemes based on the quantity of the manufacturing of the product.
  • This type of layout requires more floor space than the product layout because a distinct department establishes for each operation.
  • Compared to line layout inventory investments are usually higher in the case of process layout. It increases the need for working capital in the form of inventory.
  • Under process layout, the cost of supervision is high because; 1) the number of employees per supervisor is less resulting in a reduced supervisory span of control, and 2) the work is checked after each operation.

Product Layout:

It is also known as line (type) layout. It implies that various operations on a product are performed in a sequence and the machines are placed along the product flow line i.e. machines are arranged in the sequence upon which a given product will operate. This type of product layout prefers continuous production i.e. involving a continuous flow of in-process material towards the finished product stage.

Advantages of Product Layout:

The following advantages of the Product Layout below are;

Automatic material handling, lesser material handling movements, time, and cost.

  • Product completes in lesser time. Since materials are fed at one end of the layout and the finished product collects at the other end, there is no transportation of raw materials backward and forward. It shortens the manufacturing time because it does not require any time-consuming interval transportation until the completion of the process of production. Line balancing may eliminate idle capacity.
  • The smooth and continuous flow of work. This plan ensures a steady flow of production with the economy because bottlenecks or stoppages of work at different points of production is got to eliminate or avoid due to the proper arrangement of machines in sequence.
  • Less in-process Inventory. The semi-finished product or work-in-progress is the minimum and negligible under this type of layout because the process of production is direct and uninterrupted.
  • Effective quality control with reduced inspection points. It does not require frequent changes in machine set-up. Since the production process integrates and is continuous, Defective practices can easily discover and segregate. This makes inspection easy and economical.
  • Maximum use of space due to straight line production flow and reduced need for interim storing.

Disadvantages of Product Layout:

The following disadvantages of the Product Layout below are;

  • Since the specific product determines the layout, a product change involves major layout changes and thus the layout flexibility is considerably reduced.
  • The pace or rate of working depends upon the output rate of the slowest machine. This involves excessive idle time for other machines if the production line does not adequately balance.
  • Machines being scattered along the line, more machines of each type have to purchase for helping a few stand by, because if one machine in the line fails, it may lead to a shutdown of the complete production line.
  • It is difficult to increase production beyond the capacities of the production lines.
  • As the entire production is the result of the joint efforts of all operations in the line, it is difficult to implement individual incentive schemes.
  • Since there are no separate departments for various types of work, supervision is also difficult.
  • Under this system, labor cost is high because; 1) absenteeism may create certain problems because every worker is a specialist in his work or he specializes in a particular machine. To avoid the bottleneck, surplus workers who are generalists and can fit on several machines will have to employ; 2) monotony is another problem with the workers. By doing the work repetitive nature along the assembly line, they feel bored; 3) as machines play the dominant role in production under this system, workers have no opportunity to demonstrate their talent; 4) noise, vibrations, temperature, moisture, gas, etc. may cause health hazards. In this way, labor costs are high.

Their clarification:

It is now quite clear from the above discussion that both systems have their own merits and demerits. The Advantages of one type of layout are generally the disadvantages of other types. Thus to secure the advantage of both systems a combined layout may design.

Static Product Layout or Project Layout or stationary Layout:

The manufacturing operations require the movements of machines, and men materials, in the product layout and process layout generally the machines are fixed installations, and the operators are static in terms of their specified workstations.

It is only the materials that move from operation to operation for processing. But where the product is large in size and heavy in weight, it tends to be static e.g. shipbuilding. In such a production system, the product remains static and men and machines move to perform the operations on the product.

Advantages of stationary layout:

The advantages of this stationary layout are as under:

  • Flexible: This layout is fully flexible and is capable of absorbing any sort of the change in product and process. The project can complete according to the needs of the customers and as per their specifications.
  • Lower labor cost: People are drawn from functional departments. They move back to their respective departments as soon as the work is over. This is economical if several orders are at hand and each one is in a different stage of progress. Besides, one or two workers can assign to a project from start to finish. Thus it reduces the labor cost.
  • Saving in time: The sequence of operations can change if some materials do not arrive or if some people are absent. Since the job assignment is so long, different sets of people operate simultaneously on the same assignment doing different operations.
  • Other benefits: Are; 1) It requires less floor space requirement because machines and equipment are in moving position and there is no need for fixing them. 2) This arrangement is the most suitable way of assembling large and heavy products.

Disadvantages of stationary layout:

The disadvantages of this stationary layout are as under:

  • Higher capital investment: Compared to the product or process layout, capital investment is higher in this type of layout. Since several assignments are taken, investment in materials, men, and machines makes at a higher cost.
  • Unsuitability: This type of layout is not suitable for manufacturing or assembling small products in large quantities. It is suitable only in cases where the product is big or the assembling process is complex.
What is Plant layout in Operations Management? Types of Plant Layout Process Product and Stationary
What is Plant layout in Operations Management? Types of Plant Layout: Process, Product, and Stationary.

Combination Layout:

A combination of process and product layouts combine the advantages of both types of plant layouts. Moreover, these days pure product or process layouts are rare. Most of the manufacturing sections are arranged in a process layout with manufacturing lines occurring here and there (scattered) wherever the conditions permit. A combination layout is possible where an item makes in different types and sizes.

In such cases machinery arranges in a process layout but the process grouping (a group of the number of similar machines) then arranges in a sequence to manufacture various types and sizes of products. The point to note is that no matter whether the product varies in size and type, the sequence of operations remains the same or similar.

Extra things:

A combination layout is also useful when several items producing in the same sequence but none of the items are to produce in bulk and thus no item justifies an individual and independent production line. For example, files, hacksaws, circular metal saws, wood saws, etc. can manufacture on a combination type of layout.

Nowadays in the pure state, any one form of layout discuss above stands rarely found. Therefore, generally, the layouts used in industries are a compromise of the above-mentioned layouts. Every layout has got certain advantages and limitations. Therefore, industries would to like use any type of layout as such.

Flexibility is a very important factor, so the layout should be such that it can mold according to the requirements of the industry, without much investment. If the good features of all types of layouts connect, a compromise solution can obtain which will be more economical and flexible.

Fixed Position Layout:

These types of plant layout are the least important for today’s manufacturing industries for operations management. In this type of layout, the major component remains in a fixed location, other materials, parts, tools, machinery, manpower, and other supporting equipment are brought to this location.

In other types of layouts discussed earlier, the product moves past stationary production equipment, whereas in this case the reverse applies; men and equipment are moving to the material, which remains at one place and the product completes at that place where the material lies.

The major component or body of the product remains in a fixed position because it is too heavy or too big and as such it is economical and convenient to bring the necessary tools and equipment to work along with the manpower. This type of layout uses in the manufacture of boilers, hydraulic and steam turbines and ships, etc.

Advantages of Fixed Position Layout:

The advantages of Fixed Position Layout are as under;

  • Material movement reduces.
  • Capital investment minimizes.
  • The task stands usually finished by a gang of operators, hence continuity of operations ensures.
  • It is possible to assign one or more skilled workers to a project from start to finish to ensure continuity of work.
  • It involves the least movement of materials.
  • There is maximum flexibility for all sorts of changes in products and processes.
  • Several quite different projects can take the same layout.
  • Production centers are independent of each other. Hence, effective planning and loading can make. Thus the total production cost will reduce.
  • It offers greater flexibility and allows change in product design, product mix, and production volume.

Disadvantages of Fixed Position Layout:

The disadvantages of Fixed Position Layout are as under;

  • Highly skilled manpower requires.
  • It usually involves a low content of work-in-progress.
  • There appears to be low utilization of labor and equipment.
  • It involves high equipment handling costs.
  • The movement of machine equipment to the production center may be time-consuming.
  • Complicated fixtures may require for the positioning of jobs and tools. This may increase the cost of production.
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