A poorly organised factory layout can delay the flow of materials and information and thus have a negative impact on the timely delivery of the products to the customer. The objective of a good layout is efficiency and effectiveness and as such the layout must;
1) Have a flow pattern that is cost effective and does not waste time
2) Facilitate the gathering of information for control purposes
3) Conform to safety and health rules and regulations
4) Take into account the ergonomic and comfort considerations of personnel.
In our work on layouts with organisations in the Caribbean, C&G International has tried to apply the above four considerations. Below is an example:
A Solar Water Heater Manufacturer
A Productivity Study on the manufacturing processes for tank production, panel production, foaming and assembly. carried out by C&G International, at a solar water heater manufacturer, Sunpower, led to the discovery of a poor utilisation of resources, lost production time, waiting time at various operations and a convoluted flow pattern around a changing room in the middle of the shop floor.
A new layout was designed, machines were moved to appropriate places, shared resources (e.g. guillotines) were placed conveniently, the changing rooms and bathrooms were re-positioned and impeding walls were knocked down. After these changes the new layout was set to work and a production flow analysis revealed a 9.2% increase in shop floor space and a 20% increase in production flow time.
Also in order to establish a firm basis for the future shop floor personnel were trained in new production methodologies including the logging of job times, also gangways and work in progress stocking points were marked with yellow lines for safety reasons.