In the manufacturing industry, time is money. To optimize time and maximize money, the goal for manufacturing facility design is to create a lean system that streamlines production for a smooth flow of information, material, and work. This is accomplished with efficient use of space and reduced handling costs by ensuring the following:
- Clear communication from the top down
- Elimination of bottlenecks
- Efficient use of labor
- Elimination of downtime
- Ensuring constant movement of materials and products
- Establishing flexibility for changes to workflow
What to Consider When Determining Facility Design
The best manufacturing facility layout design takes into account the workers’ needs and requirements for materials and equipment and creates a functional and productive system that results in high-quality work produced at a rapid pace. Here are some factors top manufacturing engineering companies consider when designing such a layout:
- Communication: The layout should support ease of communication and supervision.
- Employee wellbeing: The design should improve employee morale and motivation levels.
- Process flow: Materials should flow smoothly without bottlenecks.
- Safety: operations must be in compliance with local requirements and federal guidelines from O.S.H.A..
- Space: Facility layout design should provide sufficient space for storage and staging, while allowing for adequate movement of employees and equipment.
Facility Layout Design and Principles of Lean Manufacturing
In designing a lean system, there are certain core objectives to accomplish. Refinement of products reduces unnecessary functions to yield a favorable cost-benefit ratio. Ongoing assessments of the roles and duties of the existing workforce improves morale, makes better use of employee talent, and optimizes productivity.
Streamlining the production system enables the identification and elimination of unproductive employee wait times, which can add up over time. Optimizing production to match demand eliminates excess inventory. An efficient manufacturing facility design and layout eliminates time loss from moving within the facility. Finally, identifying and eliminating defective products saves resources, revenue, and customer opinion.
Focusing on these core objectives in creating an optimal lean facility layout yields the following critical outcomes:
- Increased morale: Reduction of repetitive work and nonproductive tasks increases employee satisfaction.
- Improved lead times: Efficiency leads to more rapid turnaround, along with greater flexibility to respond to changes in demand.
- Improved profits: Improvements throughout the production cycle positively affect the bottom line.
- Increased quality: Improved processes increase precision and enhance quality control.
- Decreased waste: Efficient operations eliminate excess waste and increase savings.
Product Layout and Assembly Line Design
Product layout design, also known as assembly lines, arranges production lines based on an operation sequence needed for specific product assembly. Suitable for mass production or systems with steady demand, high volume, and repetitive operations, product layouts are highly autonomous. This design requires movement of materials in a single direction while maintaining a fixed pattern.
The greatest challenge in this type of layout is achieving balance on the line to avoid bottlenecks and disruption to the workflow. The major advantage of the product layout design is the ease of use and high level of efficiency, while the biggest disadvantage is the system’s inflexibility.
With the simulation modeling process, a 3-D model of equipment, components, warehouse, plant, or other system is computer-generated to enable identification and resolution of issues before they occur. This type of simulation engineering allows for testing of planned work processes to see their expected outcome prior to implementation.
Simulation engineering allows manufacturing design teams to resolve complex challenges, identify opportunities for implementing lean systems, test outcomes in advance, and present high-level models to groups to enhance understanding. 3-D modeling has been used to great success with warehouses, aerospace design, electronics manufacturing, shipbuilders, and service providers, among others.
At Design Systems, we support our clients with project management services and process design within their warehouse and production facilities.