A good factory layout is directly associated with good work flow, right from material receiving till the finished goods go out of the factory. Whatever type of plant layout a firm develops, it should be designed to optimize quality, throughput time and flexibility.
Experts differ in views on how and what constitutes a good layout. It is never easy to rate one layout over the other when both achieve the desired results. But at times little changes bring wonders.
Team StitchWorld, from this issue onwards initiates a series of articles on factory layout and brings experts’ views on different aspects of designing a factory layout.
In this first write-up, Suresh Dureja, Director of Manufacturing, Canada Goose, Toronto, Canada defines the basic considerations while conceptualizing and designing a factory layout. Prof. Prabir Jana, in a subsequent article in this very issue discusses various options of machine layout in sewing line.
Plant layout is the spatial arrangement and configuration of departments, work stations, machinery and equipment used in the conversion process. Layout of an apparel production plant directs the flow of materials and work-in-process from start till its completion and integrates material handling and equipment.
An efficient layout has the flexibility to be changed to meet requirements of the product line, delivery schedules, and anticipated volume. Safety is a major consideration in plant layout. Fire and safety codes, emergency and accessible exits, open traffic areas, etc. must all be a part of layout plans.
The following factors should be taken into consideration while planning a layout:
- Minimization of manufacturing cost,
- Feeding the materials and parts at highest possible speed and in one direction without any backtracking or overlapping flow of products,
- Minimization of work transfer among the processes from acceptance of raw materials till delivery of finished product with properly defined spaces for each process, and
- Provision of future expansion plans.
The layout planning should be done based on factory site selection and arrangement of building and machines.
Selection of Factory Site
Demographic, Infrastructural, Natural and Social factors should be considered before selecting a location for a factory site.
Demographic and Infrastructural analysis is all about understanding population age groups, per capita income, education level, occupational structure and availability of skilled and non skilled manpower, technically qualified and trained supervisors and managers, transportation cost, link roads, nearness to railway station, airport or sea port, banking and financial institutes, power and water supply availability.
Natural and social factors like climatic conditions, pollution, public hazards, political problems, local laws and regulations, medical services, public utilities, civic amenities and means of communication should also be analysed before selection of the site.
Layout of the Plant
Layout of the plant is decided based on process sequence, building structure, shop floor transportation, type of layout (product or process based or a combination of both) and arrangement of machines. The aim of every layout is to maximize utilization of available space in order to speed up the material flow. Highly specialized machines and small parts assembly may be configured with a line arrangement for final assembly.
Factors to be considered for designing an effective layout include number of workers both male and female, number of machines (size, weight by models), entrance, exit and passages (size, width, position, number of each of them) for production as well as administrative wing, change room, lunch room, lavatories, medical emergency room and provision for those governed by local laws. Utilities like boiler, air compressor, vacuum pumps, generator, electric panel, air conditioning machine, underground water storage tanks for boiler and washing machines, water softening plant, waste water recycling plant, drainage system are also equally important.
Other factors that need attention before laying out the factory plan include ceiling height (3-3.5 metres from floor), lighting (large windows of 2 or 3 stages) and illuminance levels (600 Lux for production and 800 Lux for inspection areas) besides ventilation. Also, the workplace should have sufficient number of men’s and women’s toilets and drinking water outlets in the vicinity.