Plant Layout & Facility Planning For Lean Manufacturing


Facilities In Lean Mfg Strategy 

Lean Manufacturing is all about adding value and avoiding waste. Facility planning (land, buildings, equipment, furnishings) provides the physical capability to add value...

Facilities are expensive. Their lifetime is in decades. They take years to commission. By their nature, they are one of the most important strategic elements of a business enterprise. This is why facility design and the strategic thinking that should precede it are so important.

Many symptoms of inappropriate business architecture appear as layout or material handling issues.

A properly designed plant layout is an important source of competitive advantage. It can:

  • Operate At Low Cost

  • Provide Fast Delivery

  • Accommodate Frequent New Products

  • Produce Many Varied Products

  • Produce High or Low Volume Products

  • Produce At The Highest Quality Level

  • Provide Unique Services Or Features

These are examples of what Wickham Skinner called "Key Manufacturing Tasks."

A particular factory can perform one, two or perhaps three of these Key Manufacturing Tasks superbly but it can rarely do more. A factory is an engineered design and, like any engineered design it optimizes performance on some dimensions while sacrificing performance on others. It must because of technical limitations.

For example, if a facility must accommodate many new products with short life cycles it must have flexibility. This dictates a multi-purpose building with electrical, compressed air and ventilation systems that can change easily as equipment and layout change.

The Lean Facility

Material Flow Diagram and plant layoutLayout is an integral part of a Lean Manufacturing Strategy. Meaningful re-structuring requires corresponding physical changes in the layout.

Conversely, a layout re-design can be the catalyst for re-structuring. A layout project, properly done, can demonstrate the need for change to an organization reluctant to tear itself apart and rebuild.

  • Product-Focused workcells

  • Focused Plant-Within-Plant Factories

  • Reduced Storage & Handling Space

  • Kanban Stockpoints

  • Direct Delivery of Raw Materials

  • Integrated Support Areas 

Facilities Planning & Workplace Design book download

Buy Book

Facilities & Workplace Design

Quarterman Lee, Arild Amundsen, William Nelson & Herbert Tuttle

Facility Planning Series

The pages that follow summarize the basics of Facility Planning and Plant Layout.

The four fundamental elements in every layout or spaceplan

Levels of Detail help organize facility planning into manageable sub-projects. Each sub-project has a series of tasks that the design team must complete. The tasks and their sequence differ for each level.

Other pages illustrate the tasks and their sequence for each of the most common levels with a Project Plan (or process map). Next Page

Supra (Site)


Micro (Workcell)


Sub-Micro (Workstation)

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

The Strategos Guide To Value Stream and Process Mapping goes  beyond symbols and arrows. In over 163 pages it tells the reader not only how to do it but what to do with it.

Lean Briefing is only sent to those who subscribe or those who download from the Strategos website.

Books & Videos

Guide to Cycle Counting

Warehouse Planning Guide

Human Side of Lean Video

Contact Webmaster


SEP 2007