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Methods of Plant Layout

A layout furnishes details of the building to accommodate various facilities (like workers, material, machinery, etc.). Inaddition, it integrates various aspects of the design of production system. The information required for plant laying out includes, dimensions of work places, sequenence of operations, flow pattern of materials, storage space for raw material. In-process inventory and finished goods, offices, toilets, etc. There is no single universal technique leading to best layout; the different techniques independently or in conjunction with other techniques may be employed at different stages involved in plant or factory layout. The words plant and factory can be taken more or less as synonyms.

During different development stages of a layout, the following methods may be used.
(i)    Process flow charts. They show, how different component parts assemble, in sequence of operations to form sub-assemblies which in turn lead to assemblies (finished products).

(ii)    Material Movement patterns. The flow pattern of materials-in-process is traced and layout is built around it.

(iii)    Layout Analogues. They cover two-dimensional cutouts or templates and three dimensional models.

(a)    Templates. They are used to develop plant layout. They are two-dimensional or block templates made up of cardboard, coloured paper or celluloid. They are made to scale and are placed on the scaled outline plan of the building. Templates or customs show the plan of the various facilities and the building. They show the actual floor space utilization. The temples can be placed and attached with a tape either on a board or on a cross-hatched surface or on a graph paper and thus being known as Graphic technique. These templates have flexibility in se and can be moved on the graph paper form place to place in order to evaluate carious feasible positions for different machines. It is better to photograph a layout before shifting the templates to try other layout drawings for each alternative plant layout arrangement.

A two-dimensional template gives machine outline and its details whereas block templates shows the boundary of the maximum projected area of the machine.

(b)    Three-Dimensional Models. They are scale models of a facility,  and, more near to the real situations as besides length and width they shows the height of the facility also. Models made up of wood or deice plastic. They show minor details and can mounted on a thick plastic sheet acting as the floor plan. Models are used mainly to develop floor plans and elevations. Models can be made for production macines, workers, material handling equipments or any otherfacitlity.Models are much more effective and fast as compared to drawings or templates especially when multistory plant layout is to be designed.

(iv)    The correlation chart. It involves drawing a grid with rows presenting alternative solutions. Plant items can be ground floor, first floor or other floors of multi-storey building.

(v)    Travel chart. A travel chart as the name suggests is chart or record of the amount of travel by the material in process while going form machine to machine a form one department to another. The amount of travel depends upon the frequent of movements between sections or departments travel chart helps improving the existing plant layout.

(vi)    Lord Path Matrix Method. This method aims at reducing the transportation of in-process inventory form section to section. Like travel chart it also helps deciding the position of one preliminary plant layout made by other techniques. The departments having mass flow of material or goods are placed close to each other. 

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