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Getting Your Lean Plant Layout Right

A Simple “Spaghetti Chart” like this can reveal an amazing amount of waste. This one prepared for a TXM client revealed that each product traveled around 600m in the production process or over 5000km per year. With simple no- cost changes to the process this distance was halved.

The team at TXM are constantly asked for advice on plant layout. Relocating provides the best opportunity to reduce waste by improving layout, but improvements can also be made without moving sites. We recommend some simple guidelines when deciding where to put things in your plant.

Start with the Customer, Not the Machines.

Determine your rate of production by the needs of your customers now and in the future, not by the output of your machinery.

Don’t Let the “Tail” Wag the Dog.

Focus on your top products first. Work out a good layout for them s and then worry about the low volume exotic products later.

Map the Process.

Use value stream maps to identify your key production flows and eliminate unnecessary production steps and waste.

You Don’t Have to Use all the Space.

Keep things close together and design U-shaped cells if possible to minimize walking and transport distances. It also improves productivity by enabling operators to switch easily between neighboring functions when underutilized.

Operations First Storage Space Second

Design a good production flow first to minimize waste and then any space left over can be left for storage. If you do not think you will not have enough storage space focus on storing less, not on rearranging the plant layout to put in more pallet racks.

Involve the People Who Create the Value.

Make sure that you consult widely and involve the operators, team leaders and maintenance teams extensively in the process. They will have to live with the layout and if they don’t like it they will remind you about it for the rest of your working life!!