Plant organization

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.

Plant organization
Plant organization pt.2
Plant organization pt.3
Commercial vs Industrial space

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  1. sisi says:

    HI, this is a bit off subject…but hopefully someone will have some info! I LOVE this blog by the way- just dicovered it, and I am obsessed!
    Does anyone have any advice on merchandising a line? I am starting a contemporary clothing compnay (starting small and building), and do have quite a bit of experience in the industry. However, from a sales/buyer standpoint- any advice? I am not doing a “collection” per say,but more of a “group” I guess.I am offering a more tops driven/designer basics collection, primarily knits (as in jerseys), with a top weight woven (I really want to do a great cropped jkt!. Again, I am starting small, any thoughts on what to offer as a small line, but still have prescence and pieces that work well together?
    Thank you so much!

  2. Eric H says:

    Now what kind of person would I be if -in the unlikely event that I had the foresight to recognize and offer a great resource to you- I pointed out your dreadful error of failing to read Learning to See? After all, you’re a busy person and you have good reasons not to have read the book — a short, relatively easy-to-read book that sat no more than a few feet from the bed or kitchen table every night for almost a year — didn’t you?

  3. Carol Kimball says:

    I would love to participate in this. My projects so varied that personal examples for starting aren’t appropriate, but I’d love to help reconfigure other spaces. My workspace is so small that I almost always reconfigure the areas for flow depending on what’s being worked on.

  4. Judith says:

    Good luck Sisi!!! also I love cropped jackets.
    Eric H, thank you for posting about Learning to See. I have not heard of this book. Your link says it is unavailable. Rats!!!

  5. Kathleen says:

    I just checked the link that I put up. There are 19 used and new copies available. New copies are being sold by the Lean Enterprise Institute who are the publishers of the book. Just because Amazon isn’t selling it themselves, doesn’t mean it’s not available. Some book sellers cannot afford to give Amazon all of the discounts and pay for shipping etc on their titles. I’d know, I’m one of them.

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