Main Consideration for Production Line Layout Design

Two of the most basic elements of lean manufacturing is optimising workflow and minimising waste. It's these concepts that work in day-to-day businesses, but it also works very well in laying out assembly lines. 

The way in which manufacturing workstations and machinery and tools are arranged can affect everything from productivity and throughput to ergonomics. To have lean lines, you should be accommodating increasing product variety without compromising any of the quality of the work that is done or introducing wasteful processes. 

It doesn't matter whether or not it's a high volume mix environment or the opposite, because flexibility is critical either way. Plenty of manufacturers out there struggle with issues relating to production line layout design, and one of the biggest reasons is that their products are changing more frequently.

What is Factory Layout

There are two meanings to factory layout. You know already that layout is to plan or draft a detailed visualisation of a mental picture for later execution. In the planning stages, the anticipation of actions in consideration or comparison of possible variants plate comes into play. When you are planning any machinery and workstations in a factory layout, it's super important that you minimise internal transport where possible so that you can keep the costs low and safety records high. 

There are many layout objects in a factory that count such as machines and work tables, warehousing elements and moving parts. It's a challenge for a planner to come up with an optimum arrangement because they have to organise different transport relations in an overall view. The area needed for equipment and material is a critical component of planning everything from material flow to additional transport. Layout planning is a part of factory planning and it often has a horizon in the long term.

What is Factory Lean Plant Layout

This is an important basis of today's industrial factory. The success of any manufacturing company depends heavily on the ability of the producing facility to quickly and effectively adapt to the shifting market environment. Value streams, or all steps that add value from raw materials to delivery to your customer, are the focus of lean plant layout. In contrast to vertical process departments like silos in a conventional facility layout, lean layouts are more likely to combine processes horizontally throughout the factory.

With short product life cycles and a higher product variety, there is unpredictable demand and much shorter delivery times. Response to rising industrial productivity demands is one of the tools of lean manufacturing, and these difficulties can be overcome with current resources through plant layout optimization.

Main Considerations in a Production Plant Layout

If we are talking about the considerations of plant layout, there are a variety of factors to consider. You first must think about your available space and how things can move, you also have to consider your process requirements. What are your operational and maintenance requirements along the way? Have you considered safety and fire hazards? Is there a good process flow without any interruption? 

You also need to consider the degree of automation or human interference with your layout planning, because automation is going to make a big difference to your manufacturing facility in the first place. Balancing this with human interference is important.

The Big Picture

When it comes down to it, a well thought out plant layout is the cornerstone of any successful manufacturing business. It can help to provide the basis for a streamlined production process, and this is one that utilises space, labour and materials correctly. 

It also makes it possible to use all available technologies and resources efficiently. Utilising these resources will enable you to cut costs while improving quality. A well designed plant layout will also reduce hazards and it will help to improve the overall operation of the manufacturing plant for a profitable and safer and more sustainable business.

The Conditions of Shop Floor

Lean manufacturing is all about safety and when it comes to floor safety in your factory or manufacturing plant the rules are very simple. Safety for machining is one of the rare cases because it's black and white, but manufacturing today is more sophisticated than ever before. You have to consider employee mistakes, breakdowns of equipment, rush orders and late shipping. There are many different moving parts and without the proper planning, mistakes are bound to happen. 

You need to have evolving production landscapes and you need to consider smart manufacturers that are quickly adopting the latest businesses optimization strategies. You should ensure proper routing of materials on the shop floor and channel the processes and procedures effectively. If you have materials they must be scheduled correctly, scheduling your workforce and other resources are also important so that you can follow them easily. Is there any loopholes in communication they should be located on patched as soon as possible and you can monitor for any deviations from the standard process is.

The Surrounding Conditions

As Lean management is about the continuous improvement of operational processes, it's important that the core theme is to focus on reducing the costs and ensuring that if there is a potential for waste you must eliminate it subsequently. The advantage for this is that by eliminating waste the products or goods can be moved easily on your shop floor and there should be no interruption in doing so.

How Much Material Must be Moved to or From the Line?

To be effective in your material handling, you must consider the safety and success that depend on transporting materials. Moving work in progress and finishing groups of goods from one area of the facility to another is important, so it's critical to ensure that this is done in a timely manner. Not only does this lead to customer satisfaction, but it means that your manufacturing plant is running smoothly. You must consider practises such as:

  • Safe material handling and ensuring that you use the best practice for material handling, which involves training your employees.
  • Automation. It's the catalyst for efficiency and if you want to improve your warehouse processes you need to leverage on this.
  • The put away process. To minimise transaction errors and save on space, you need to ensure that materials are put away the same day that they are received.
  • Optimum warehouse management systems. This contracts the travel time from receipt to storage and it will help you with tracing materials and knowing what your inventory is.
  • Organisation. Material handling is much more effective in a well-kept and organised warehouse.

Is the Line Fully Automated, or are There Operators at Work?

While automation has changed the face of manufacturing, you need to make sure that people aren't losing their jobs to robots. Automated manufacturing systems have played a massive role in the recovery from the recession, and if automation is here to stay, you need to make sure that your human workforce are in roles that serve them better where they can excel. 

As long as people are not in the way of the processes happening on the floor you will have a much more successful time in your manufacturing plant.

The Lenoch Engineering team is skilled at designing and assembling production lines. The wide range of experiences in this field has taught us how to see the big picture right away and how to see details and take into account all the relevant factors during the production line design phase. If you are thinking about starting a new production line, do not hesitate to contact us, our experienced team will assist you. To learn more, please check out our Factory Tooling services.