Here is an essay on the ‘Plant Layout’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on the ‘Plant Layout’ especially written for school and management students.

Essay on Plant Layout

Essay Contents:

  1. Essay on the Meaning and Definition of Plant Layout
  2. Essay on the Importance of Plant Layout
  3. Essay on the Stages of Plant Layout
  4. Essay on the Objectives of Layout
  5. Essay on the Advantages of a Good Layout
  6. Essay on the Techniques of Plant Layout
  7. Essay on Plant Layout Tools and Techniques
  8. Essay on the Steps in Planning the Layout for a New Enterprise
  9. Essay on the Features of a Good Layout
  10. Essay on the Factors Relevant in the Choice of the Layout
  11. Essay on Revising Plant Layout
  12. Essay on the Consideration for Planning a Good Plant Building

Essay # 1. Meaning and Definition of Plant Layout:


Layout problems are fundamental to every type of organisation/enterprise and are experienced in all kinds of undertakings. Housewife must arrange her kitchen, retailer must arrange his counters and display the items in such a manner which facilitates movement and attract the attention of customers, office management position the desks, tables and other equipment in such a way that it facilitates the flow of work.

The manufacturing organisations must arrange their facilities, not only the departments within the factory but also the plant, stores and services so as to achieve smooth flow of products. The adequacy of layout affects the efficiency of subsequent operations. It is an important perquisite for efficient operations and also has a great deal in common with many of the problems.

The simplest of situations with comparatively fewer items to arrange have many alternatives available. Impart the layout decisions were based merely on intuition, experience, judgement and some sort of improvisation but with increase in the complexities of organisations the layout problems are solved scientifically.

Once a decision about location of the plant has been taken, next important problem before the management is to plan suitable layout for the plant. Efficiency and performance of good machines and sturdy building depend to a great extent on the layout of a plant.


Plant layout is the method of allocating machines and equipment, various production processes and other necessary services involved in transformation process of a product with the available space of the factory so as to perform various operations in the most efficient and convenient manner providing output of high quality and minimum cost.

In the words of James Lundy, “Layout identically involves the allocation of space and the arrangement of equipment in such a manner that overall operating costs are minimised.” Alternately, plant layout is an effort to arrange machines and equipment, and other services within a predesigned building-ensuring steady, smooth and economical flow of material.

Planning the layout of a plant is a continuous process as there are always chances of making improvements over the existing arrangement specially with shifts in the policies of management of techniques of production. The disposition of the various parts of a plant along with all the equipment used is known as Plant Layout. It should be so designed that the plant functions most effectively.

Layout problems are common to all kinds of organisations. A retailer must arrange his counter, display of items etc., office management must position desks, tables etc. in such a way that it facilitates the flow of work. A manufacturing organisation must position its machinery and other equipment so as to achieve smooth flow of products through their factories.


A good layout results in comfort convenience, safety efficiency, compactness and profits. A poor layout results in congestion, waste, frustration and inefficiency. Development of a good layout depends on a series of decisions already taken on location, capacity, facility, manufacturing methods, and material handling.

Thus after plant after plant location the proper design of plant layout is most significant for smooth functioning and success of the organisation.

It begins with plant location and continues through three further levels, namely:

(i) The layout of departments within the site.


(ii) Layout of items within the department.

(iii) Layout of individual work places.

Essay # 2. Importance of Plant Layout:

The decision to manufacture some new or modified product may necessitate reorganisation of existing plant or provision of additional facilities. The reasons for changes in product policy/design can be variations in level of demand, change in the location of product markets, obsolescence or failure of existing equipment. Furthermore, the need for cost reduction may require a reappraisal of layouts.


The various problems responsible for layout considerations can be:

(i) Enlargement or contraction of existing departments: This may be required due to increase/decrease in demand, advancement in technology etc.

(ii) Movement of a department due to change in the design of product.

(iii) Addition of some new department e.g. computerization.


(iv) Replacement or addition of some new facility/machinery e.g. lift system, material handling innovations etc.

Essay # 3. Stages of Plant Layout:

Plant layout process in an enterprise involves the following stages:

(i) Product demand.


(ii) Production requirements.

(iii) Components and parts analysis.

(iv) Work methods and measurements.

(v) Machine requirements.

(vi) Handing and movement requirements.

(vii) Space requirements.


Essay # 4. Objectives of Layout:

An efficient layout can be instrumental in the accomplishment of following objectives:

(i) Economies in materials facilitate manufacturing process and handling of semi-finished and finished goods.

(ii) Proper and efficient utilisation of available floor space.

(iii) To ensure that work proceeds from one point to another point inside the plant without any delay i.e. to avoid congestion and bottlenecks.

(iv) Provision of better supervision and control of operations.


(v) Careful planning to avoid frequent changes in layout which may result in undue increase in cost of production.

(vi) To provide adequate safety to the workers from accidents.

(vii) To meet the quality and capacity requirement in the most economical manner.

(viii) Provision of medical facilities and cafeteria at suitable and convenient places.

(ix) To provide efficient material handling system.

(x) To suggest improvements in production process and work methods.


It is very difficult to attain all these objectives in practice. Anyhow good skill and judgement can result in providing best possible layout for a system. This needs close understanding between planners of the layout and plant engineers.

Essay # 5. Advantages of a Good Layout:

Advantages of a Good Layout:

A good layout can provide a number of advantages to workers and management.

Some of these are listed below:

A. To the Worker:


(i) Lesser number of operations and material handling.

(ii) Reduction in length of hauls and motions between operations minimises production time as well as the activities of workers.

(iii) More labour productivity i.e., more output per man-hour i.e. low work in progress and high turnover.

(iv) More safety and security to workers from accidents.

(v) Better working conditions resulting improved efficiency.

B. In Manufacturing Costs:


(i) Maintenance and replacement costs are reduced.

(ii) Loss due to waste and spoilage is minimised.

(iii) Improved quality of product with reduction in handling w.r.t. movement, time and cost.

(iv) Better cost control.

C. In Production Control and Supervision:

(i) Provides more space for production operations.

(ii) Control and supervision operations are provided at appropriate points.

(iii) Better and convenient storage facilities.

(iv) Efficient arrangement for receipt, transportation and delivery of raw- material and finished goods.

(v) Results in less inspection activity.

(vi) Cost and efforts in the supervision of production process are minimised.

D. A good layout leads to efficient and optimum use of machines, labour and capital by minimising per unit production time and maintaining a proper balance between various production departments. This leads to reduction in capital investments. There is effective utilisation of floor space facilitating operations, maintenance, service and supervision.

Essay # 6. Techniques of Plant Layout:

For an efficient layout certain basic information’s are required for proper planning.

These can be listed as:

(i) Type and quantity of labour required.

(ii) Dimensional plan of the space to be laid out.

(iii) Volume of work to be taken from the space at present and in future.

(iv) Description of the operations, their sequence and standard times in the production process.

(v) Nature of machines and equipment needed to perform the operations.

(vi) Amount of material, buffer stock required at each workstation.

(vii) Size of finished and semi-finished products inventory.

(viii) Kinds of communications and fire-exits necessary for plant.

(ix) Special requirements if any to fulfil the local bye-laws.

(x) Special geographical and inspection requirement.

On the basis of above information, one can select appropriate method to plan the desirable layout. Planning a layout is not an operation to which some rigid technician be applied. The process is mainly of trial and error i.e. laying out, modifying and relaying out.

Visual aids play an important role in layout planning. Some form of scale representation is normally used viz. scale drawing, templates, three dimensional string diagrams etc.

Essay # 7. Plant Layout Tools and Techniques:

A. Process Charts:

A process chart is a classification and graphic representation of production activities in a plant. Through these charts the whole process can be systematically analysed by sub-dividing the various operations and material moments constituting the production process and then their effectiveness.

The study of these charts can reveal the operations that can be eliminated, rearranged or simplified to achieve economy in production.

These charts can be divided in two categories:

(i) Operation Process Charts and

(ii) Flow process charts.

(i) Operations Process Charts:

These charts divide the whole manufacturing process into operations and inspections. It indicates the points at which materials are introduced into the process and exhibits the sequence of all operations and inspection except those involved in material handling. This chart represents the basic activities required to manufacture a product. This chart is shown in Fig. 7.2.

A Operation Process Chart

(ii) Flow Process Chart:

It is a graphic representation of all production activities occurring on the floor of the plant. This chart accumulates and classifies the complete information necessary for the analysis and improvement of plant operations as a whole or of anyone phase.

The study of this chart can reveal the operations that can be eliminated, rearranged or simplified to achieve economy in production e.g. work stations, storage areas and inspection cribs may be relocated to reduce travel distance and labour time.

The inflexibility of the layout can also be ascertained from this chart. The data for constructing flow process charts are collected by tracing the actual flow of work occurring in the plant from the receipt of the raw material to the completeness of the product. The data includes the distance travelled and the time required for the operations. 

B. Process Flow Diagrams:

It is both a supplement and substitute of flow charts. It is an aid to visualise the movement of material on an existing floor layout. A single line is drawn to scale on the floor plan to represent the physical movement of material through the entire plant. These show back-tracking and excessive movement of materials and helps in relocations of plant activities to reduce travel distance.

C. Machine Data Cards:

This is an effective method to provide necessary information for placement or layout of the equipment. These cards are prepared for each machine showing its capacity, space and power, requirements, handling needs and the corresponding dimensions.

D. Visualisation of Layout:

This is the most common method of planning a layout by making replicas of machines, racks, benches and the equipment and then arranging these on a two or three dimensional plan of the floor space.

(i) Two-Dimensional Plan or Templates:

In practice templates are used to develop layout. The area required by machine/equipment may be cut to scale from a sheet of heavy paper; bristol board or plywood. Then colours may be used to show areas for production machines, benches, racks and other equipment’s for material handling and storage space.

The method consists of following steps:

(a) Scale drawing of the available floor space is drawn showing the positions of columns, electrical fittings, power, water, gas, elevators, rest rooms and other significant features.

(b) A layout plan is chalked out by positioning the machine replicas on the drawing.

(c) Plan is then critically examined with respect to work flow, utilisation of floor space, availability of service facilities like tool sheds, stock rooms etc.

(d) Alternative plans are drawn by rearranging the replicas and comparative evaluation is made to select the best layout.

The layout selected at this stage can be the basis for re-planning the layout when some expansion or modernisation is contemplated.

(ii) Three-Dimensional Plan or Machine Models:

To have a better understanding about the depth, heights etc. of machines, scales or miniature models are constructed in place of templates. Here one uses tiny figures of men and machines like pawns in the game of chess. The three-dimensional models are expensive but provide clarity and vividness.

Three dimensional models provide full visualisation of equipment and processes. In it one can easily detect the weakness of the layout if any. For more exact presentation sometimes a combination of two- dimensional and three dimensional models can be used.

Studying the operations involved in the production process can make the model of a layout:

(a) Key operations are located.

(b) Locate main and minor gangways. These should be preferred near the walls and not across the floor.

(c) Locate the subsidiary equipment’s viz. rubbish bins, telephones etc.

In a good layout packing department should be near to despatching point whereas inspection place should be located near the windows for proper daylight.

In addition to this the following specific points should be kept in mind for the layout of machines:

(a) Space occupied by a machine must include some overhang space for the travel of any part or for the movement of material.

(b) Gangways must be adequate for the collection and delivery of material.

(c) Floors must be strong enough not only to carry the machine load but also to bear the load of semi-finished and finished goods.

(d) Servicing facilities and safety devices must be easily accessible.

(e) Sufficient space around the machine must be provided so that operator can move freely to do his work.

It should be observed that the layout of an organisation has an impact on other functional areas. There is a strong interaction between layout planning and other decision areas such as work measurement and method study.

Essay # 8. Steps in Planning the Layout for a New Enterprise:

(i) The first thing in planning a layout is to study the objectives, production plan and the nature of machines, equipment and manufacturing operations involved in the production process.

Select the equipment on the basis of product design and volume of the output to be attained. In other words the layout of the plant should be functional in the production of a specified product at the required rate of output.

(ii) Accumulate layout data: machine data cards, machine load charts and templates of equipment.

(iii) On the basis of information collected in step (ii), develop process charts which are vital in the development of a sound layout. These charts summarize the production activities that are required to achieve the manufacturing objectives.

(iv) Develop an over-all flow plan of operations for efficient processing and materials handling. The best flow of work both horizontal and vertical and the integration of operations from the receipt of the raw materials to storage of finished goods are the objectives to be attained. Process charts, machine load data, production rate desired etc. should be considered in drafting the plan.

(v) The sequence of mechanical operations is studied to fix the position of respective machines performing desired operations.

(vi) Select best suited type of building and develop a tentative plot plan for the site. The exact specifications of the building are designated only after the layout is developed in considerable detail.

(vii) Layout templates or models of individual production machines and space for service activities: materials handling, receiving and shipping, inspection, storage, maintenance, offices etc according to flow plan operations.

(viii) Decision about the location of service facilities like cafeteria, toilets etc. inside the plant building is taken, keeping into consideration the requirements of the production process and comforts of the workers.

(ix) The position of windows, ventilators, electric fittings, drainage system also in the plant building is properly and thoroughly studied.

(x) After analysing all the details in steps (i) to (vii), drawings of the layout are drawn and the production run is tested.

(xi) Modifications can be done according to the experience of test runs.

Typical weaknesses in a poor plant layout:

The following characteristics are indicative of weaknesses in any layout plan:

(i) Low production density and under utilisation of plant capacity.

(ii) Lack of flexibility in the plant production facilities.

(iii) Long processing time due to too many delays, temporary storage, bottlenecks etc.

(iv) Improper utilisation of plant site including inaccessibility to the rail road siding, wasted outdoor area etc.

(v) Over-specialisation of production facilities.

(vi) Improper location and ineffective integration of parts fabrication and subassembly feeder lines with the final assembly lines.

(vii) Uneconomical material handling. Lack of gravity handling and channelize flow of work.

(viii) Costly inspection and difficulty in maintaining quality standards.

(ix) Inadequate storage facilities.

(x) Equipment and production machinery not accessible for maintenance and repair due to layout.

(xi) Poor lighting, ventilation, air cleaning arrangements in the layout.

(xii) Inadequate safety provisions for workers.

Essay # 9. Features of a Good Layout:

The layout of a plant can be planned in a number of ways but a good layout should possess some basic characteristics, namely:

(i) There should be sufficient space for the workers as well as for the equipment to perform their functions. This will ensure smooth and I continuous flow of production process.

(ii) Must provide adequate safety and security to workers against accidents of injury, e.g. provision of fire-fighting equipment, first-aid boxes etc.,

(iii) Sufficient gang-way space for materials, workers and semi-finished goods. This lead to increase in efficiency.

(iv) Arrangement of machines and equipment should be such that minimum material handling is necessary for low cost processing.

(v) Stores for in-process material should be provided at some convenient place i.e. not far from the place of operations.

(vi) Supervision, co-ordination and control of the activity should be effectively and easily executed.

(vii) There should be sufficient scope for making adjustments and modifications whenever any need arises i.e. the layout should be flexible.

Essay # 10. Factors Relevant in the Choice of the Layout:

(i) Nature of the Product:

The size, shape, characteristics and many other properties of the product influence the choice of the layout e.g. products having sensitive chemical properties need more provision for safety equipment’s. Some products need air-conditioned plants. Efficient material handling system can be used for light products.

(ii) Size of Output:

If standardised items are to be produced in bulk then product or line layout is more suitable. If some specific products are to be manufactured once in life time, then functional layout will be more appropriate.

(iii) Nature of Manufacturing System:

For intermittent type of industries functional layout is better and in the case of continuous manufacturing system one can very well use product or line layout.

(iv) Localisation of Plant:

Layout is greatly influenced by the size, shape, climatic conditions and by-laws of the area where plant site is selected. There will be different transport arrangement if site is located near the railway line, otherwise the approach will be different. If floor space is square and too many machines and operations are involved in the production process then layout can be planned in shapes as drawn in fig.6.3.

Layout of Machines/Equipment in Rectangular or Square Floor Space

(v) Machines or Equipment:

Heavy machines making too much movement during operations need stationary type of layout. Layout also depends on the size of the machines.

(vi) Other Factors:

Climatic conditions, requirement of light, temperature etc., also play an important role in designing a layout.

Essay # 11. Revising Plant Layout:

Reasons for Revising Plant Layout:

To maintain operating efficiency over a period of time, the existing plant layout must ordinarily be modified and improved continuously.

There reasons are:

(i) Increase in Demand of the Product may Need Expansion of Manufacturing Facilities:

Expansion of plant may be due to:

(a) Out-put of new products in search of profit prospects e.g. manufacture of electronic items, food industry, automobiles etc. periodically revise their existing models and styles.

(b) The horizontally integrated program can expand only with in the field of one main category of products whereas vertically integrated product program can expand to produce as many different products.

(c) Plant expansion can be done to produce by-products. A by product is a commodity the production of which is facilitated by the production of the main line of products e.g. chemical products gained from the distillation of coal.

In industry every end product or waste material is considered a potential starting point for a new product e.g. firms manufacturing leather goods can use waste leather pieces to produce washers, shoe soles etc. Similarly glass waste can be used in sand papers.

(d) Sometimes there may be excess plant capacity which results in increased production costs. The unused capacity can be used to manufacture new products. This may need some revision of the facilities and layout.

(ii) To Acquire more Plant Efficiency by using New Technology:

The use of advance technology in manufacturing systems may be characterised by increased mechanisation, using modern sources of fuel and energy; new developments in process, materials, product design and scientific management.

(a) Increased mechanisation implies substitution of machine process for manual process, large capacity machines for smaller ones, and complex mechanical devices for simpler ones. Greater output at lower costs can be achieved by reduction in amount and kind of labour required to produce goods. This may be done by elimination of one or more hand operations, increase in speed of machines, etc.

(b) Fuel and energy development: Technological progress can be seen through the use of new and improved forms of power e.g. mechanical system of belts, shafts and pulleys is being rapidly replaced by direct electric drive motor.

(c) Developments in process, material etc. can be judged from the use of automatic chemical processes, increased efficiency in use of raw materials by producing by products, product design may be improved for reduction in cost of production or attaining greater product simplification. Reducing unnecessary variety in the products attains economy.

(iii) Improving the Layout through Analysis and Work Simplification:

A progressive management is always on look for improvement in plant facilities to save it from obsolescence. The evils of poor layout are usually concealed “hidden cost”. There may be unnecessary handling, waste motions, delay in storage and other hidden expenses.

Factors responsible for inefficient layout can be:

(i) Layout planning is entrusted to unqualified/incompetent persons.

(ii) Various departmental heads are given the responsibility of planning the layout. This leads to unhealthy competition for location and floor space and irrational emphasis on some plant activities. In the absence of any centralised control over layout each department makes whatever revisions it feels are necessary with the result that plant operation as a whole suffers from high production costs.

(iii) The site selected for the plant may impose restrictions on the choice of good layout. Poor site can be characterised by poor rail and road connections, inadequate or no outdoor storage space and no prospect of low cost plant expansion.

(iv) The choice of unsuitable building may result in high production costs e.g. the need of multi-storey building may not have been recognised initially.

(v) Existing layout may not have provisions for future plant expansion.

(vi) Ineffective sales forecasting and production planning activities may adversely affect an efficient plant layout.

(vii) Highly specialised plant facilities in a layout imposes limitations of the products the firm can offer in the market.

(viii) Poor preventive maintenance results in machine breakdown on interruptions in production, which further leads to wasteful plant layout revisions.

Procedure to Identify the Necessity of Revising Existing Layout:

A scientific layout study is a disciplined, objective procedure that clearly determines the goals to be attained, collects all relevant facts, thoroughly analyses the data and achieves an improved layout.

The following are the steps in studying the feasibility of revising a layout:

(i) Objectives of the investigation are to be formulated.

(ii) Collect the layout drawings of existing plant.

(iii) Analyse the information available on present layout with the help of flow diagram, process charts, analysis of material handling system, analysis of service activities etc.

(iv) Develop a new plan of layout by means of improved flow diagram, process charts and final drawing of revised layout.

Essay # 12. Consideration for Planning a Good Plant Building:

1. Adoptability:

In beginning the plants are generally installed in hired buildings. Necessary alterations and modification in the structure are made according to specific requirements. In case, new building is constructed then the designing of the building should be done to accommodate the future changes in layout due to new inventions or improvements in production process.

In the words of Kimball and Kimball, “An ideal building plan is one based on some ‘unit’ system, like a sectional book case, so that additional units can be added at any time without disturbing the manufacturing system and organisation.” It is observed that extensions can be made most conveniently at right angles to the direction of flow of work.

2. Fire Protection:

Building should be fire proof and there should be proper provision of fire-fighting equipment. Brick or masonry wall, massive timber wood columns, roofs and floors fitted with sprinkler and other fire resistance features is known as ‘slow burning construction’ and is good for protection against fire.

3. Proper Lighting and Ventilation:

One cannot fully rely on natural light due to changes in weather and the time of the day. Therefore, arrangements for proper artificial lighting are necessity. The intensity of light can also be increased by proper painting of the interior of the rooms. In factories producing smoke, hot fumes and gases, ventilating arrangements through roofs should be provided.

4. Service Areas and Employee Facilities:

Proper care should be exercised in providing space for receiving and dispatch, tool rooms, stock rooms, offices for control etc. There should be adequate provision for lunch I rooms, locker rooms, lavatories, first aid facilities.

These days building in long narrow rectangular shape are preferred for plants, which can provide best lighting and ventilation facilities. These arrangements may be in the shape of E, F, H, L, T or U.

Single Storeyed and Multi-Storey Plant Buildings:

The decision of single or Multi-storey Plant building depends on the nature of production process, requirement and availability of floor-space, cost of construction and the convenience of keeping different kinds of production process in one building. The management can decide about the single storey or Multi-Storey building by analysing the advantages for each type in relation to his production process requirements.

Single Storey buildings provide following advantages:

(i) There is greater scope for expansion and modification.

(ii) Cost per square meter is likely to be less.

(iii) Provides more floor space, as no lifts or staircases are necessary.

(iv) Routing and scheduling is comparatively easier.

(v) Natural light can be more utilised from roof-tons and ventilators.

(vi) Vibrations are likely to be less during production operations.

(vii) Better and effective fire-protection appliances can be used.

Advantages of multi-storey plant buildings are:

(i) Economy in land.

(ii) Concept of gravity can be used in flow of material from top to lower level in designing the layout, thus reducing the handling costs.

(iii) Vertical arrangement may provide more compact layout.

(iv) Upper floors are likely to impose less problem with regard to dust and dirt and bad smell.

In general, if the machines required in the plant are heavy or the items produced are heavy in nature, then single storey plants are more suitable e.g. steel, rail-engines, automobiles etc.

Multi-story buildings can be used to install a plant where raw material is light in weight and the flow of material is possible using gravitational law or semi-finished goods are in the shape of liquids which can flow through pipes, e.g. sugar, petroleum industries, chemical industries etc.

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