Plant layout: concept, goals, principles and types (2023)


Read this article to learn more about the concept, goals, principles, and types of facility layout.

Plant layout concept:

The concept of the plant layout can be described as follows:

Plant layout is a plan for the effective use of facilities to manufacture products; This involves arranging machinery, materials, personnel, storage space and all supporting services as efficiently and economically as possible within the available floor space.


More defines the plant layout as follows:

"The facility layout is a plan of the optimal arrangement of facilities, including personnel, equipment, storage space, material handling equipment and any other supporting services, along with a decision on the best structure to accommodate all of these facilities."

Remark points:

Some useful observations on the plant layout concept are as follows:


(i) plant layout is inherently very complex; because it deals with concepts that affect areas such as engineering, architecture, economics and business management.

(ii) Most managers now realize this after the location for the plant location has been chosen; It's better to come up with the layout and build the building around it - rather than build the building first and then try to fit the layout into it.

Goals/benefits of the plant layout:

The following are the objectives/benefits of the plant layout:

(i) streamlining the flow of materials through the facility


(ii) minimizing material handling

(iii) Facilitate manufacturing progress by maintaining balance in processes

(iv) maintaining flexibility of arrangements and operations

(v) maintaining a high turnover of in-process inventory


(vi) Effective use of personnel, equipment and space

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(vii) increasing employee morale

(viii) Minimize disruptions (i.e., disruptions) to machines

(ix) reduce risks to employees


(x) keep investments in equipment low (i.e. keep investments at lower levels).

Plant layout principles:

When designing the system layout, the following principles must be observed:

(i) Principle of minimal motion:

Materials and labor should be moved over minimum distances; Saving costs and time for transport and material handling.


(ii) Principle of use of space:

All available space should be used effectively - both horizontally and vertically.

(iii) Principle of flexibility:

The layout should be flexible enough to accommodate changes necessitated by expansion or technological development.


(iv) Principle of interdependence:

Interdependent operations and processes should be in close proximity to each other; minimize product movement.

(v) Principle of total integration:

All facilities and services should be fully integrated into a single operating entity; to minimize production costs.

(vi) Security principle:

There should be built-in precautions in the design of the layout to ensure worker comfort and safety.


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(vii) Principle of smooth flow:

The layout should be designed to reduce work bottlenecks and enable uninterrupted workflow throughout the plant.

(viii) Economy principle:

The layout should be aimed at generating savings on investments in fixed assets.

(ix) Supervision principle:

A good layout should allow effective supervision of workers.


(x) Principle of Satisfaction:

A good layout should boost employee morale by giving them maximum job satisfaction.

Types of plant layouts:

Two basic plans for arranging production facilities are – product layout and process layout. The only other alternative is a combination of product and process layout in the same facility.

The different types of plant layouts are described below:

(a) Product layout (or line layout):

In this type of layout, all the machines are arranged in the order required to produce a specific product. It's called line layout because machines are laid out in a straight line. The raw materials are fed in at one end and removed as a finished product at the other end.


Special machines are used that perform the required tasks (i.e. functions) quickly and reliably.

The product layout is shown below:


1. Reduced material handling costs through mechanized handling systems and straight flow

2. Perfect line balancing that eliminates bottlenecks and idle capacity.


3. Short production cycle due to uninterrupted material flow

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4. Simplified production planning and control; and simple and effective work control.

5. Small amount of unfinished inventory

6. Lower labor costs as unskilled workers can learn and manage production.


1. Lack of operational flexibility as the layout cannot be adapted to manufacture other types of products.


2. Large capital investment due to special machines.

3. Total activity dependency on each part; Any failure of a machine in the sequence can lead to a production stop.

4. The same machines duplicated for making different products; resulting in high total cost of ownership.

5. Sensitive special machines require expensive maintenance/repairs.

Product layout suitability:

The product layout is suitable in the following cases:

1. Where one or a few standardized products are manufactured.

2. Where a large production volume of each item needs to go through the production process over a significant period of time.

3. Where time and motion studies can be performed to determine the rate of work.

4. Where there is the possibility of a good balance between work and equipment.

5. Where a minimum of in-service inspections are required.

6. Where materials and products allow bulk or continuous handling by mechanical parts.

7. Where a minimum of adjustments are required.

(b) Process layout (or functional layout):

With this type of layout, all the machines that perform similar types of operations are grouped in one place, i.e. H. all lathes, mills, etc. are grouped in the workshop and are grouped in equal groups.

A typical process layout is shown below:


1. More flexibility in the distribution of work among machines and personnel. Adapted to frequently changing workflows.

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2. Less investment due to general purpose machines; which are usually cheaper than special machines.

3. Higher utilization of production facilities; which can be adapted to a variety of products.

4. Diverse tasks make the work challenging and interesting.

5. The breakdown of a machine does not lead to a complete stoppage of work.


1. When handling materials, there will be backward movements and long movements. Therefore, material handling costs are higher.

2. Mechanization of material handling is not possible.

3. Production planning and control is difficult

4. More space required; Because the inventory of work in progress is high and requires more storage space.

5. As the work has to go through different departments; It's quite difficult to trace the responsibility for the finished product.

Process layout suitability:

The process layout is suitable in the following cases where:

1. non-standard products are manufactured; since the focus is on special orders.

2. It is difficult to achieve a good balance between work and equipment.

3. The production is not on a large scale.

4. Difficult to conduct adequate time and motion studies.

5. It is often necessary to use the same machine or work station for two or more difficult operations.

6. Many checks are required during the course of operation.

7. The process may need to be put to work instead"and vice versa"; because materials or products are too large or heavy to allow bulk or continuous handling by mechanical means.

(c) Combination layout:

In practice, plants are rarely designed in the form of either a product or a process layout. Generally, a combination of the two basic layouts is used; derive the advantages of both layout systems. For example, refrigerator manufacturing uses a combination layout.

The process layout is used to produce various operations such as stamping, welding and heat treatment, which are performed in different work centers according to the requirement. The final assembly of the product takes place in a product type layout.

(d) Fixed position layout:

It is also called stationary layout. In this type of arrangement, people, materials and machines are brought to a product that stays in one place due to its size. Ship building, aircraft building, wagon building, heavy construction of dams, bridges, buildings, etc. are typical examples of such plants.

Related articles:

  1. Goals and principles of industrial plant layout
  2. Plant Layout Importance and Objectives | industrial management

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