Product Layout | Suitability | Advantages | Disadvantages

Machines and equipment are arranged in the way in which they would be used in the process of manufacture of the product or group of related products. The arrangement of machines in this type of outlet may be either in U shape or in the line shape as depicted below:

Product Layout Chart
Image: Product Layout Chart

Machines are placed in such a way that the output of one machine becomes the input of the next machine.

Suitability of Product Layout

This type of layout is suitable for manufacturing units which carry out continuous production. Raw materials are fed at one end and the finished products arrive at the other end. It requires long production runs of identical products with a high degree of automation. It is useful for industries manufacturing cement, steel, sugar, cigarettes, fertilizers, automobiles, metal extraction etc.

Advantages of product layout

The following are the advantages of product layout:

1. Smooth flow of production: The entire production process is integrated. Therefore the possibility of stoppage of production at different stages of production is eliminated. So smooth flow of production is ensured.

2. Lower material handling costs: Since machines are arranged based on the sequence of operations, there is no backtracking (back and forward movement) or criss-crossing of materials. Therefore, cost and time involved in handling of materials is minimized. Transportation cost involved in transporting materials from one machine to another is eliminated

3. Lesser work-in-progress: Since the production process is continuous and uninterrupted, work-in-progress is less. Investment in work-in progress is less and the storage space required is also minimized.

4. Optimum space utilization: Since all machines are arranged sequentially, space available can be utilized in an optimum manner. Even in case of congested space, arrangement of machines would not be a problem, because the machines can be arranged in U shape.

5. Effective utilization of resources: Product layout ensures effective utilization of resources by ensuring:

  1. minimum movement of workers
  2. continuous production process and reduced wastage
  3. less working-progress and
  4. mechanization of materials handling,

6. Effective supervision: Since production process is integrated and continuous, supervision and control of the manufacturing process is easy. Inspection points are integrated into the production line.

7. Production control: Since the production process is continuous, production control is facilitated. The management can plan for the operations and adopt measures to complete the work according to the plans.

8. Savings in time: Time spent for transporting materials can be minimized. Since machines are arranged based on the sequence of operations, mechanized equipment such as conveyor belts can be used for transporting materials. This results in significant saving of time.

Disadvantages of Product Layout

The following are the disadvantages of product layout

1. Rigidity: The layout is not flexible. Since the operations are performed in a sequential manner, adjustments in the course of production cannot be made.

2. Expansion is difficult: It is difficult to expand production beyond the capacity of each line of production.

3. Costly: This type of layout is costly. Machines in this type of layout are arranged on the basis of sequence of operations and not according to functions. Therefore it results in duplication of similar type of machines needed for different lines of production.

4. Supervision difficult: Under this layout, there are no departments for various types of work. Therefore specialization in supervision is difficult.

5. Complete stoppage during breakdown: Since output of one machine is the input of the next machine, any breakdown of one machine results in the complete stoppage of work.

6. Monotony: Since workers are engaged in repetitive nature of work, it results in monotony. Workers may lose interest in the job. The labor force has very little opportunity to display its talent.

7. High labor cost: Since workers work on specific machines, they lack knowledge to work on other machines. Therefore in case of absenteeism of a worker engaged in any particular work, the entire workflow may get affected. The organization may need to employ and train surplus workers who can work on any machine.