Effective facility designs and plant layouts

Effective facility designs and plant layouts

31st Dec 2020

Effective facility designs and plant layouts make for efficient work and maximized production output. The concept behind the principles of effective facilities stems from that of lean manufacturing; namely, maximizing output with the lowest amount of input required. Here are the principles of facility design to maximize efficiency and overall effectiveness of your plant layout:

1. Principle of Minimal Movement

Movement, whether of people or machinery or both, takes time and yields no output. If people need to move back and forth, or outputs need to be forklifted to a separate area, you can gain efficiency by eliminating such movement as much as possible.

2. Principle of Interdependence

Related to Principle #1, this principle says that processes that are related should be located near each other. That means inventory and equipment should be near each other as well, to minimize movement but also to facilitate material handling and process efficiency.

3. Principle of Flexibility

Manufacturing and industrial processes used to be in a straight line, commonly known as the assembly line. However, the cost of industrial engineering processes today often requires machinery to be utilized for more than one product or different versions of the same product. The facility must also be able to expand or contract productions as needed, and be amenable to updates. The Flexibility principle says changes should be made with minimal interruptions to production.

4. Principle of Space Utilization

The principle of effective space utilization applies to floor, wall, and ceiling space and everything in between. Is there an area for plant storage on a wall? Can walkways be moved vertically, above machinery, and around the perimeters? Many effective facility designs have very creative ways of maximizing space utilization.

5. Principle of Integration

To the extent possible, effective facility design means integrating as many processes as logically possible. For a bottling plant, for instance, bottling and labeling can logically be integrated into one facility.

6. Principle of Smooth Workflow

The facility should be designed to avoid bottlenecks and interruptions. If a part of the process takes longer than other parts, can it be put at the end? Could an additional machine be purchased to give additional output at that stage? Solving these types of issues is key to effectiveness.

7. Principle of Economy

This principle is really about getting the most out of each piece of equipment. Are you able to purchase equipment that will produce additional colors, designs, shapes, etc.? Are you able to purchase equipment that integrates two or more steps in the process?

8. Principle of Safety

Up until now, the principles have focused on efficiency and output. However, these must at times be sacrificed in the name of safety. Safety equipment must be accessible and visible, as with emergency shutdowns and other failsafes built in at key points. Leave nothing to chance when it comes to worker safety.

9. Principle of Supervision

Engineers, plant managers, shift supervisors, and others must have adequate ability to supervise the plant. They need to be able to see and inspect all parts of the process and have good lighting and foot access.

10.Principle of Satisfaction

A good layout will give employees the satisfaction of smooth production and high output, and is a morale booster!

By Ellis Bledsoe, Principal Owner ECB Solutions, LLC