Different facility layout formats are used in manufacturing. This paper covers such layout forms as product, process, fixed position, group technology or cellular layout. Each layout can be utilized for particular types of products, and example of typical products for each layout are provided. Overall, the considered layouts have advantages and disadvantages.
Product layout is a type of manufacturing layout in which operations are performed in particular sequence and aimed on production of a particular good or providing particular service. This layout is commonly applied for a single product; however, it also can be used for similar products that require similar stages of production. In the product layout, flow of production process is gradual and logical, and goods or services are manufactured without pauses by repeating the same path of production. For any product in this layout, the stages of production are the same, and they can be repeated continuously. Via this layout, different goods are produced. Fast food chains are relevant examples of the product layout. They represent repeated stages for each order. Once an order is made, the same foods are produced and served to customers in the same sequence and require the same steps for each customer. Other examples of product layout include production of credit cards or mass manufacturing.
The above layout has some advantages and disadvantages. Based on its capabilities, it is possible to manufacture a large volume of products via the same steps of production. Therefore, resources are mostly used effectively. The main disadvantage is that all steps should be followed in the same sequence and problems with a single step can lead to a failure of the whole layout. Moreover, it is expensive and difficult to change an established production process in case of need. Typically, product layout is used at large plants with production lines . Thus, product layout cannot be utilized for all types of products.
To compare, process layout includes grouping of production activities based on particular functions. For each process of production, a specific unit exists, and different stages of products can be separated from each other in terms of location and time. Moreover, different tasks can be performed in different sequences, and not necessarily directly after each other. A vivid illustration of process layout is machine production. Distinct departments perform different processes, such as painting or drilling, and they can be performed in different sequences. Other examples of process layout include different job shops, shoe manufacturing and legal offices. The main advantage of the process layout is that, unlike product layout, it is more flexible as it may be modified depending on the changes in product requirements. Moreover, stages can be performed in different ways. If one process has some issues, they do not influence the other processes of production. However, this layout also has some disadvantages because equipment is not always utilized for full capacity. In addition, this layout type often requires high costs and many resources for production, as well as high skills of workers for each process. Hence, in spite of different benefits, this manufacturing layout can be used only for particular types of products.
In contrast, the goal of the fixed position layout relates to manufacturing large individual products, such as ships or buildings. For this layout, all production processes are designed and located in one place in order to work with one project . As the project is finished, facilities are removed from the location and can be located in other places for other projects. For example, if a building project is started, different facilities to build one building are located at the same place. Thus, this layout is based on performing a particular large project, for which, its own facilities are created. Fixed position layout has some advantages for large projects that require much resources and different processes to be performed in the same location. Due to the fixed position, resources are used optimally and transportation costs are minimized. Moreover, it is possible to lease or subcontract some equipment because projects are limited in time, and money is saved as well. Among the key disadvantages is the requirement for highly skilled employees to implement the fixed position layout. Apart from that, variable costs are considerably higher as compared to the fixed costs of the project.
Finally, group technology, or cellular layout, means that the layout is designed based not on functions of equipment but special groups of equipment to produce a particular range of products. The example of this layout is the manufacturing cycle of Toyota Company. In general, this type of layout is similar to a product layout; however, some differences are present. Within one cell, materials are moved circle-wise, from one operation to another. In each cell, there are from one to three employees. Each worker within the cell is responsible for loading parts to machines, unloading them, and shifting to the next stage. As workers work in parallels, they help to raise the total output of the cell. The advantage of this layout is that it allows producing goods more efficiently by group processes within group technology, or cells. Thus, requirements for the machine handling are reduced . Nonetheless, the main disadvantage is that this layout can be used only for a limited range of products.
To summarize, different manufacturing layouts have their peculiarities and are designed to produce different types of products or provide different services. All layouts have their advantages and disadvantages. Thus, for each production processes, an optimal type of layout should be selected.
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