Several productivity metrics, such as throughput and lead time, are directly affected by the where and how the processing and storage resources are located in a factory. In this chapter, different types of industrial processes and plant layouts are discussed.
Plant layout (changes in resource or even factory location) is an activity that all companies are forced to deal with sooner or later. These situations occur because of technology innovations, increases in demand, and certain other productivity reasons. Therefore, it is important to be familiar with the methodologies used to carry out these kinds of studies.
Cellular layouts—where labor and machines are grouped in cells— will be presented in this chapter because they are becoming increasingly important and also because they require specific methodologies. Cellular layouts will be explained in greater depth in Chap. 3.
Factory layout improvements typically occur more than one time during a factory's life. The study of plant layouts seeks the optimal location for all the production resources. At the same time, the study tries to ensure that the economic impact of the project on the enterprise will be as positive as possible. Lastly, the new plant layout must be as safe as possible and satisfactory for the employees.
With all these restrictions, it seems obvious that the optimal solution could be unreachable. In reality, the ideal plant layout can be reached if and only ...