What is a layout?

The layout is a way of organizing the elements, products, and raw materials in a design. The layout is the representation of information in a structural, logical, descriptive, coherent form.
The layout is a mapping of various equipment arrangements, workstations, machinery, plants, and more. It secures the continuous movement of a product quantity along with the quality.

What are the features of a good layout?

Various features of a layout can be given below as,

  • The layout uses the available space efficiently. The layout is designed and arranged in such a way that it utilizes the whole area of space.
  • A layout is created economically so that the materials, equipment, stocks, resources, work must contribute less cost at the end. The lifts, hoists, and conveyors are utilized while handling the equipment, materials, machines, etc.
  • The movement of material, machine, man, content must be optimized. Indirect handling of these things can be reduced as much as possible.
  • The service or facility of production and maintenance must be readily available, and it must be easily accessible. There must be enough space in the material, man, and equipment. Anyone of them can be easily located from one place to another.
  • The layout must be flexible so that it can be modified when required. The manufacturing process, maintenance, content, material, and machines can be advanced and changed according to the requirements.
  • Safety and precautions can be adapted while designing the layout. The layout must consist of security guards to cope with the design and content from the fire, water, moisture, corrosion, thieves. There must be fire extinguishers. There must be a storage place for flammable materials. Highly secured facilities must be employed for the layout.
  • While designing a layout, it must be taken into care that the workers should feel more comfortable. A healthy environment must be given to the workers so that they never feel any issues related to lightning, heating, cooling, noise, dust, smell, ventilation, etc.
  • The layout must be designed in such a way that proper visibility is employed. The machines, man, and raw materials must be observed on a timely basis so that any one of them cannot cause any issue. They must be controlled efficiently.
  • In a layout, proper coordination must be ensured so that the workspaces, workstations, machines, content, departments, and personnel should be inter-related. There must be an interlinking between them while in operation.
  • The layout must follow the statutory rules, regulations, and guidelines of the factory act. It will be helpful for the security purposes, wellbeing, and welfare of the workers' employees. With a smooth process and work balance, the productivity of the layout can be increased.

What are the types of layouts?

Process layout

Process layout is employed for batch manufacturing or production. In this layout, the equipment or machines which are similar in operations are grouped in one place.

For example, all machines, including lathe machines, milling machines, shapers, planers, drilling machines, and other machines, are grouped at one location. Varieties of products are manufactured in batches or small quantities. The machines and resources are equipped and organized according to their function.

The process layout can be represented as,

The diagram represents the process layout. The milling machines, welding, grinding, inspection, lathe machines are grouped at one place, then operations are performed, and then assembly, painting, shipping, and receiving occur.
Process layout

In the above diagram, milling machines for milling operation, grinding machines for grinding, welding equipment for welding operation, then inspection, assembly of processes and workpiece takes place. Then painting, then shipping and receiving are performed one after other.

Product layout

There is a large number of products manufactured. The processes can be specified according to the development of the product. For this layout, the required machines for the specific tasks are employed for a smooth workflow. There is a flexible layout. It can be modified as per the design of a particular product.

Here, a single machine is not employed for various products. Here, the line balancing method is used for the better efficiency of a layout. And the layout is made in a straight line in a well-organized manner.

The product layout can be shown as,

The diagram represents the product layout. The operations and machines like turning, milling, drilling, assembly, inspection, and package dispatch are shown into it.
Product layout

Here, in the product layout, the turning operation on the workpiece, milling, and drilling processes on the respective machines are carried out, then assembly and then inspection and package dispatch takes place.

Combination layout

It is the combination of all advantages of process layout and product layout. This type of layout is feasible and created when the product is produced in various types, shapes, or sizes.

All equipment and machines are equipped together in a process layout, and they are arranged in sequential order for the manufacture of products in significant variants. This sequence is constant for all variants.

Fixed layout

The raw materials and main parts or components remain fixed in the fixed layout at a particular location. The equipment, types of machinery, tools, other required materials, and human resources are brought to this fixed location.

This type of layout is preferable where few parts of a heavy system need to be produced, and the transportation costs related to these parts are quite high. It is also termed as project type layout. Applications of this type of layout are productions for turbines, boilers, etc.

The fixed layout can be shown as,

The diagram represents a fixed layout. The material, labor and equipment are brought to the shipbuilding yard and then the finished product that is ship created.
Fixed Layout

In the above diagram, for the production of the shipbuilding yard, the various labor, raw materials, tools, and equipment are transferred at the shipyard location, and then the ship will be manufactured as a finished product.

Group technology

Group technology is also termed cellular layout or multi-objective layout. In this layout, the cells are created by the grouping of different processes. The quality of a particular process can be analyzed with the help of this layout. This layout can quickly identify the manufacturing process types, order of manufacturing or processing, and variants of machines or equipment.
The advanced version of the cellular layout using an automation system is a flexible manufacturing system (FMS). This layout is helpful for the flexible production system. By using this technology, the batches and arrangement of machines, operations can be varied. This technology aims to reduce the costs related to transportation and equipment.

The group technology can be shown as,

This diagram represents the group technology. In this diagram, various components like W, X, Y, Z are manufactured with the help of mill, drill, solder, grind and polish operations.
Group Technology

Here, W, X, Y, and Z components are shown. In which W, Y components are processed using milling operation. Then they are sent for drilling. The drilling operation is performed on W, X, Y, Z after which X, Z are soldered. Then grinding process is performed on Y, and polishing is done on W, Y, Z components. In this manner, the finished products are obtained.

Common Mistakes

  • It is a misconception that higher productivity and less process time are observed in the process layout. But the low productivity is obtained due to more installments or set-ups. Also, the in-process time is relatively high, and it ultimately decreases the overall inventory turnover.
  • Sometimes students get confused between the process and product layouts. But both are different from each other.
  • It is a misconception that product layout is cost-effective. High cost is invested over the machines and tools.
  • It is a misconception that the product layout is flexible. But it's not true because it is required to alter the arrangements for a single product variation. The stoppage of one machine may disturb the whole processes line.
  • It is a misconception that less flexibility and more costly operations are seen in a fixed layout. But the reverse is true.

Context and Applications

The topic layout is commonly studied in many technical and professional courses, graduation courses, post-graduation, Doctor of Philosophy, and others. For example:

  • Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Engineering
  • Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Design
  • Master of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
  • Master of Technology in Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing
  • Master of Technology in Industrial Engineering
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Engineering
  • Layout
  • Types of layouts
  • Flexible manufacturing system
  • Features of layouts
  • Group technology
  • Process and product layout

Practice Problems

Q1: In which of the following layouts machines are better utilized and fewer machines are required?

(a) Process layout

(b) Product layout

(c) Cellular layout

(d) Combination layout

Correct option: (a)

Explanation: In the process layout process, the types of machines used that can operate multiple jobs such as lathe machine. Also, the entire consumption of tools and equipment occurs in process layout.

Q2: Which of the following layouts have fewer raw materials handling costs and throughput time?

(a) Fixed layout

(b) Product layout

(c) Process layout

(d) Group technology

Correct option: (c)

Explanation: The layout consisting of fewer raw materials handling costs will be process layout because the main objective of process layout is to reduce the net cost of handling.

Q3: Among which of the following operation sequence remains the same for the various types of products?

(a) Process layout

(b) Fixed layout

(c) Combination layout

(d) Cellular layout

Correct option: (c)

Explanation: The combination layout is expressed as the type of layout in which machines are sequentially positioned for performing operations irrespective of product type.

Q4: In which of the following types of layouts, higher flexibility is observed?

(a) Fixed and process

(b) Process and product

(c) Cellular and product

(d) Fixed and product

Correct option: (a)

Explanation: The fixed and process layout will be having higher flexibility because the chances of disturbances in these types of layout are negligible, and alteration in operation or adding new operation takes place without any hindrance.

Q5: The group technology is helpful in ___________ and ____________.

(a) Reliability and customer service

(b) Productivity and cost

(c) Customer service and paperwork

(d) Cellular manufacturing and minimizing tooling cost

Correct option: (d)

Explanation: Group technology is one of the modern approaches for manufacturing mechanical components. Some of the benefits of group technology are boosting productivity, decreasing the expenses on tools and equipment, and cellular manufacturing.

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