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In addition to the type of automation used to produce a product, the layout and product flow of the facility are important to consider when producing a product. There are five types of production layouts: process layout, product layout, fixed layout, work cell, and combination layout.

Workshop

Production Layouts

Process layout: This type of facility has the floor laid out in specific departments with specific functions. The product is carried back and forth between departments as functions need to be performed on it. 

An example of this type of layout could be used in a custom furniture shop. There could be a sawing and planing department to prepare the stock wood, a tooling department to shape the wood, an assembly department, and a finishing department. As the furniture is being made the product moves from department to department.

Product layout (assembly line): With this type of facility, the product flows in a line and the layout of the processes is determined by the sequence necessary to produce the product. 

A lighting fixture assembly plant could be laid out this way. The assembly line for a table lamp could start with assembling the base and stand for the lamp, then it could travel by conveyor to have the wiring and light fixture added, then moved to have the shade added, and finally it flows to be packed and shipped. The lamp flows through the plant which is arranged according to the steps required to finish the lamp. 

Fixed layout: The product does not move in this type of layout. This layout is for products which are too large, bulky, or fragile to move. Everything necessary to make the product is brought to the product. 

A naval shipyard would be a good example of this type of layout. A battleship is far too large to be moved from department to department or to be moved on an assembly line. In the naval shipyard the materials, specialized departments, tools, and personnel are brought to the construction site.

Work cells: This type of facility is laid out in cells or pods. The work group is responsible for completing either a portion of the product, or the complete product from start to finish.

A research and development facility might use this type of layout. This way the workers will have all the tools necessary to make prototypes and test products for their team. 

Combined layouts: This facility type may have any combination of the facility floor layouts. 

An example of a combined layout might be a jet engine manufacturing plant where they might have work cells for the turbine fin assembly, process layout for the machine shop to make custom components, a product layout for the fuel system assembly, and a fixed layout for the final assembly of the engine.

Motivate Discussion icon Motivate Discussion

Question: Why is it important to have an understanding of industrial robotics facilities to today’s manufacturing workforce?

Sample Solution: Workers need to understand the different types of facilities because each type requires a different set of skills, knowledge, and teamwork.