Process Choice and Facility Layout Planning

Process Choice and Facility Layout Planning



Process Choice and Facility Layout Planning

Process Choice and Facility Layout Planning

Process choicerefers to a strategic decision regarding the type of layout configuration that will be used to achieve objectives.

Facility layout refers to the decision regarding the positioning of resources within a facility. Namely, it is the spatial arrangement of items within the facility, the space necessary for the operation of production processes and the supporting space required for the operations, and ultimately how both material and people processed in the facility will flow through the facility.

Regardless of whether it’s a manufacturing or a service facility, process choice is dependent upon the objective(s). Common design objectives include: (1) low cost per unit, (2) fast order response time and low variance (dependability), and (3) flexibility (volume, product, and process).

Alternatively, the design objectives relate to the elimination of 8 wastes:

  • Production prior to demand
  • Waiting for information, materials, people, equipment, etc.
  • Transportation (e.g., more conveyance than is necessary)
  • Over-processing (e.g., any form of inspection)
  • Inventories (having more than absolute minimum)
  • Motion (more than necessary to complete the task)
  • Defects or Rework
  • Knowledge Disconnection (inhibition of knowledge, ideas and creativity flows)


The choice of an objective(s) is partly dependent upon whether it’s a facility producing standardized (make-to-stock) or customized (make-to-order) goods or services. The central focus of many facility layouts producing standardized goods or services is to minimize the cost and time of moving and storing materials or people through the production facility. The central focus of many facility layouts producing customized goods or services is to maximize the range of offerings (flexibility) that can be accommodated in the flow through the facility.



A. Process Choice and Layout Configuration

  1. Two broad categories: (1) intermittent (batch), and (2) repetitive (line). The most common differences relate to two dimensions: volume and degree of standardization.

2. Continuum of choice:

Project process Batch Process Cellular Line Process Continuous Process
(Process-focused) (Product-focused)

3. Three classic alternatives

Batch Process Cellular Line Process

a. Batch (a.k.a. Process-focused, job shop): variable path flow of work, typically through departments, in small batches which may correspond to individual orders, and which may be either stock orders (orders prepared for inventory) or customer orders (differing processing requirements, material requirements, processing times, processing sequences, set-up times and costs).

b. Line Process (a.k.a., product-focused, flow shop, assembly line, or repetitive): linear sequence of operations and flow of work with possible side flows, concept is to equalize capacity requirements of resources to maximize throughput, based upon economies of scale given repetitive operations.

c. Cellular layout – a hybrid of a and b (plant within a plant)

4. Key Contrasting Differences Between Continuum Ends

Batch Processes Line Processes
Functional layout Task layout
Variable path work flow Unidirectional (fixed) path work flow
Customized orders Standardized Orders
Low volume High volume
High variety Low variety
High flexibility Low flexibility
Low fixed costs/high variable High fixed costs/low variable
Labor intensive Capital intensive
General purpose equipment Special purpose equipment
High skill labor requirements Low skill labor requirements
Easy capacity changes Difficult capacity changes
Chaotic planning environment Stable planning environment

5. Product and Process Evolution - Product and Process Matrix


Introduction Growth Maturation Plateau & D

Life Cycle Stage

Introduction Growth Maturation Plateau & D
1. Batch Infeasible

2. Cellular

3. Line

4. Continuous Economically
Process Infeasible


6. Focus of the Factory

• Factory Focus refers to specialization (product mix, labor, equipment, types of processes and technology utilized, procedures, and supporting systems).

a. Simplicity and repetition breed competence
b. Factories do not perform well on all yardsticks
c. Competitive weapons other than cost (flexibility, dependability)

B. Batch Process Design for Manufacturing and Service Facilities

1. Typical Operation Characteristics

a. Early life cycle items/services (great variety of requirements)
b. Generally low demand
c. Nonstandard products and services (great variety of requirements)

2. Common Design Objectives

a. Flexibility (process, product, and volume)
b. Minimize load/distance traveled

3. Strategies to Achieve Objectives

a. High flexibility achieved through manual nature of processes, high labor skills, cross-trained workers, easy redesign capabilities (e.g., partitions, machines on wheels)
b. Minimized load/distance traveled achieved by placing resources with high work interchange in close proximity.

C. Line Process Design for Manufacturing and Service Facilities

1. Typical Operation Characteristics

a. Mature products and services (low variety of requirements)
b. High demand
c. Standard products and services (low variety of requirements)

2. Common Design Objectives

a. Low cost per unit
b. Fast order response time with low variance (dependability)
c. Reduced material movements

3. Strategies to Achieve Objectives

a. Low unit cost achieved through high worker productivity, high utilization rates of resources, successive production stages in close proximity, factory focus, etc.
b. Short order response achieved through automation, supply chain collaboration, product standardization, etc.
c. Reduced material movements achieved through many material entry points.

D. Cellular (Hybrid) Layouts

• Machines are grouped into cells, which operate in somewhat of a product-focused island within a larger process-focused layout. Design objectives include:

1. Low cost per unit
2. Fast order response time with low variance (dependability)
3. Reduced material movements (many material entry points)
4. Flexibility (process, product, and volume)
5. Minimize load/distance traveled

• Cells are typically designed to produce a part family. It enables companies that produce a variety of parts in small batches to achieve some economies of an assembly-line layout w/out product standardization.

Step 1: Determine part families.

Step 2: Arrange the plant's equipment into manufacturing cells, each containing the equipment used to process a particular family of component parts. Examples of cell types: U-shaped, C- shaped

• See Example 4, p. 15

E. Common Process Performance Metrics

1. Throughput time refers to the average amount of time a product takes to move through the system.
2. Process Velocity similar to throughput times but it also takes into account the waste of waiting time; determined as the ratio of:

Throughput time/Value-added Time

3. Productivity measures how well a company uses its resources, and is generally determined as:


4. Utilization measures the proportion of time a resource is actually used, and is determined as:

Time a resource is used/Time a resource is available

5. Efficiency measures performance relative to a standard, and is determined as:

Actual output/Standard output

F. Batch Process Layout Design

1. Step One: Information Requirements

a. Space requirements: list of departments, work centers, or items to be arranged, their approximate dimensions, and the dimensions of the building that will house the items

b. Projection of work flows between various work centers, item throughput volumes, or closeness preference (REL) ratings

c. The distance between locations and the cost per unit of distance to move loads (items) between various locations

d. The budget for the layout design

e. A list of special considerations (e.g., location of loading docks, aisle widths, etc)

2. Methodology Choice: Numerous Solution Techniques

a. Linear programming methods

Assume the criterion for a department layout planning problem is cost minimization. The materials handling cost may be measured as the product of the distance traveled and the number of loads that must be moved in some time period. For each combination of layout arrangements, it would be possible to simply add up the load-distance products between all pairs of departments. For example, let’s say E is the measure of effectiveness and is determined as: E = ijAijXij.

Aij= the number of loads per period transported between departments i and j. Xij = the distance from i to j.

Technique drawback: combinatorial problem. e.g., if the number of departments is N, the number of potential arrangements (with no limitations) equals N!

b. Heuristic Methods

Two major obstacles exist to finding efficient layouts: (1) few layout problems result in standardized solutions, and (2) the large number of assignments that are possible. The size and complexity of layout problems results in planners relying upon heuristic rules to guide trial-and-error efforts to obtain a “good” solution to each unique problem.

(1) CRAFT (Computerized Relative Allocation of FaciliTies)

CRAFT seeks to minimize material flows costs. The program requires information on material flow rates between departments (locations), unit-distance transportation costs, and an initial layout similar to the following existing structure shape (block plan), “from-to” distance matrix, and interdepartmental work flows data.

To: A B C
“From-To” Distance Matrix From: A - 20 40

B 20 - 30
C 40 30 -

To: A B C
Interdepartmental From: A - 10 80
Work Flow Matrix B 20 - 30
(loads per day) C 90 70 -

note: flow from A-C  C-A

The Load-Distance (ld) Products are:

Source Destination Distance From Load-Distance
Dept Dept Loads Source-Dest Product
A B 10 20 200
A C 80 40 3,200
B A 20 20 400
B C 30 30 900
C A 90 40 3,600
C B 70 30 2,100

• See Example 1, p. 11

(2) ALDEP (Automated Layout DEsign Program) and CORELAP (COmputerized RElationship LAyout Planning)

ALDEP and CORELAP both use preference ratings (measure of the relative importance for items to be paired or located in close proximity) which reflect subjective input from managers.

The preference ratings (A, E, I, O, U, and X) indicate the relative importance and score of each combination of department pairs. Where:

Code Degree of Importance Score
A Absolutely necessary 6
E Very important 5
I Important 4
O Ordinary Importance 3
U Unimportant 2
X Undesirable 1

Simplified Stepwise Procedure:

1. Determine Department (object) Total Closeness Ratings

2. Place department (object) with highest TCR in center of layout. Call this dept (object) the “Winner.”

3. Search closeness matrix for department (object) having an “A” rating with winner. If there is more than 1, select dept. (object) with the highest TCR. Call this dept. (object) the “Victor.”

4. Place Victor in layout next to Winner and close to any other department (object) already in the layout with which it has a relatively high closeness rating. In general, a square layout configuration is sought.

5. Search for a new Victor. If a department (object) with an “A” rating with Winner is found, go to step 4. If a department (object) with an “A” rating is not found, go to step 6.

6. Search the relationship scores of each Victor in chronological order to find an “A” relationship. If one is found, the Victor becomes the Winner, return to step 3.

If neither the current Winner nor any Victor can produce an “A” rating, the last previous Winner is analyzed for the next most important rating which is “E.”

If this does not produce a Victor, then each Victor is chronologically searched for an “E” relationship. If found, it becomes the Winner.

Note, whenever a new Winner is identified, the program returns to look for “A” ratings first. The iterative search then continues until all resources are placed in the layout.


Source: http://www.sba.oakland.edu/Faculty/Fliedner/Process%20Choice.doc

Web site to visit: http://www.sba.oakland.edu/

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Process Choice and Facility Layout Planning


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Process Choice and Facility Layout Planning