Plant layout is defined as the arrangement of physical facilities like, machines, tools and equipment, furniture and others in such a way that enhances quickest flow of materials with least amount of handling and at the lowest cost in processing the product starting at the time the raw material is dispatched to the delivery of final product (Cedarleaf, 1994). There are four main types of plant layouts. These include product or line layout, fixed or location position layout, process or functional layout and combined or grouped layout.
In this type of layout, machines that perform operations which are similar in nature are grouped at one location in the functional layout. In this type of layout, several products may share one particular machine to maximize its usage, therefore, the process has dominates the role over the product and operation differs from product to product (Moore, 1962).
This type of layout employs the technique of arranging machines in the sequence as dictated by the particular product. All the machines are required to balance each of the products in the product line layout. In this type of layout, one particular product goes through all the machines lined up according to the manufacturer’s order (Cedarleaf, 1994). In this layout, unlike the process layout, the product is dominating over the process, implying that the product is given primary consideration while the process is kept available where the product needs its service. It is applicable in continuous production.
This type of layout involves the movement of machines and manpower to manpower to the product which is kept stationary. This is often done to decrease the cost as the movement of men and machines is considered cheaper than movement of product. It is mainly used in situations whereby the size of the job is too heavy or bulky (Moore, 1962).
This is a type of layout in which there is a combination of process and product layout. It is practical where the manufacturing concerns involves production of several products in repeated numbers with less likelihood of continuous production and combined layout thereafter (Moore, 1962).