Facility Layout

Facility Layout



Facility Layout

Chapter 10: Facility Layout



This chapter defines layout planning and its importance.  Process and product layouts are identified, described and compared.  The steps for designing product and process layouts are described and demonstrated.  Two additional layouts, which are the hybrid layout and group technology (cell) layout, are explained.

Answers to Discussion Questions in Textbook

  • Explain the importance of layout planning for a business.  What are the consequences of a poor layout?


Layout planning is important because it can significantly affect the productivity and service quality.  Some consequences of poor layout are increased costs, confused and frustrated customers, and poor communication and information flows.

  • Explain the importance of layout planning for everyday life.  How has poor layout planning affected your life?


It has caused me to expend time and energy for extra movements within my home or at the university.  For example, I have taught in a classroom where the computer is in a structure in the corner of the front of the room.  The table extended part of the way across the front of the room.  I often lectured using PowerPoint.  So I needed to keep walking back and forth from being close to the students to the mouse to be able to change the slide.  I have now compensated for this problem by using a remote mouse.  In addition, the screen covered the entire whiteboard, thus making it impossible to write on the board and have a slide or overhead projected on the screen at the same time.

  • Identify the four types of layouts and their characteristics.


The four types are process, product, hybrid and fixed-position layouts.  A process layout groups similar processes or functions.  Process layouts use general purpose resources, are less capital and more labor intensive, are flexible, have slower processing rates, have higher material handling costs, are more difficult to schedule and need more space.  A product layout arranges resources in a line flow.  Product layouts use specialized resources, are capital intensive, have higher processing rates and lower material handling costs, need less space and are relatively inflexible.  A hybrid layout combines aspects of both product and process layouts.  A fixed-position layout is used when the product can not be moved.  The workers and equipment move around the products as needed.

  • Identify the steps in designing a process layout.


To design a process layout, we have to gather information, develop a diagram of the space to be used and a detailed layout of the space.  We need information concerning the amount of space needed for each resource and the closeness measures between resources, such as number of trips or closeness ratings concerning the desirability of locating each department pair close together.  The diagram of the space is used to make sure that the space is large enough for all resources.  

  • Find examples of a process layout in local businesses.  Draw a picture of the locations of departments.


In a grocery store, all the fruit and vegetables are located together, while all the freezer items are located together.

  • Identify the steps in designing a product layout.


The steps in designing a product layout are:

  • Identify tasks and their immediate predecessors.
  • Determine output rate.
  • Determine cycle time.
  • Compute the theoretical minimum number of stations.
  • Assign tasks to workstations.
  • Compute efficiency, idle time and balance delay.


  • Find an example of a product layout in local businesses.  Draw a picture to show the workstations and the tasks performed.

In some cafeterias, there is one line flow starting with the pickup of a tray and silverware.  The food and drink areas are typically in this order:

  • Salads
  • Dressing
  • Bread
  • Entrees
  • Vegetables
  • Dessert
  • Drinks


Sometimes desserts are placed before the entrees.  The cash register is at the end of the line.

  • Explain the concept of cycle time and how it affects output.  Give an example.


Cycle time is the maximum production time at any workstation on the line.  One product is moved from one station to the next every cycle time.  One unit will be finished on the line every cycle time.  The cycle time has an inverse relationship with the production rate.  For example, when the cycle time increases, the production rate decreases.

  • Define group technology.  Why is it important?


Group technology is the use of combined resources in cells to combine families of products.  It is important because it brings the efficiencies of a product layout to a process layout environment.

  • Give an example of a poor layout.  Find a better solution for that layout problem.


I have taught in classrooms with a poor layout.  Not having tiered seating makes it difficult for students to see the board/screen.  Having the entrance to the classroom by the front of the room (where the board is) is disruptive since everyone sees the arrival and departure of students during class (i.e. late arrivals).  I dislike having a screen that covers the entire board.  If I want to move back and forth between using the screen and board, I have to raise and lower the screen each time.



Source: http://www.sba.oakland.edu/faculty/wharton/downloads/reidquestions/ch10.doc

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Facility Layout


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