Is anybody interested in the topic of plant layout? It’s not something we’ve discussed very much. The reason I’m asking is there is a company who’s contacted me about optimal layout in a new facility. While I’ve done some work cell and process redesign, plant wide planning is out of my range of experience; I can only describe what I’ve seen elsewhere and not all of it has been optimal. Accordingly, I thought we could explore the topic here.
The first thing to consider is your product and the processes it requires. This means a process map. A process map visually describes the manufacture of your item. Now, if I were the responsible person I should be, I would have already read Learning to See which is all about lean process mapping (my husband will be saying “I told you so”). As we go along, you’ll begin to see why I always insist that your product type must be very focused because the design of your construction process will dictate the layout of your work area or plant. If this proves of interest, I may solicit a volunteer (or victim, depends on your perspective) with a very specific product as a further example. If you think you’d like to volunteer (open to book owners only), you’ll need to submit three things:
- A diagram of your current floor plan
- A description and/or photos of your product
- A description of the order of your existing construction process
In the meantime, here is a process map from a book entitled How to Make Suits (long out of print, from Kogos). The full size 172kb jpeg is here. This looks very neat and tidy but tomorrow I’ll show you how this process is mapped on the shop floor and I guarantee it won’t be nearly so neat nor so tidy. Nor lean for that matter.