Lean Production Facility Layout


The production facility layout is as important as the technology it houses and has a significant impact on business performance. The layout must be modified and improved continuously. Only then can the waste associated with a poor layout be eliminated or reduced. Still, changes to the existing layout are rarely taken into consideration when planning for production improvements. Instead the focus is on processes, materials and people, and the layout is most often out of scope.


There can be many reasons to why the existing production facility layout isn’t optimal. The existing facility may impose restrictions on the choice of a good layout, existing layout may not have provisions for future expansion or changes to the product mix, layout planning is entrusted to unqualified persons, poor preventive maintenance results in machine breakdown which further leads to more machines/equipment on the shop floor to keep up with demand, related laws and local restrictions have changed and prevent an optimal layout from a production perspective and so forth.

There are many challenges to be faced when improving the production facility layout. For example improving the production facility layout is often time-consuming and costly. One of the reasons is that it is often complicated to constructively discuss and compare different layout options. The process is often prone to subjectivity due to missing facts and data. It is important to understand that planning for changes to the layout requires specialized skills, experience and understanding of the production process.

Focus Areas

Waste associated with a poor production facility layout can be identified, classified and minimized as well as create tremendous savings potential. Lean principles, kaizen methods, and reengineering approaches can be applied when physically arranging or rearranging the production facility layout to improve the flow of raw material, through production to shipping. The right Lean Solutions can improve safety and reduce production lead-time.

Areas of waste often identified in production facility layouts:

  • Transportation & Handling: Long distance between workstations, extra handling (e.g. raw material not stored at working height, limited accessibility to work in process), blocked pathways.
  • Inventory: Making products before they are needed (e.g. batching of products because process steps are not connected or because set-up times are long), having more floor space than required.
  • Movement: Material and tools not stored at point of use, excess walking (e.g. to check, adjust or refill stations on the machine), lack of standards (e.g. looking for items because they do not have a defined place), unnecessary motion because of tools and machines being shared.
  • Waiting: Complex layout causing delay in material supply and delivery, long set-up times, poor communication (e.g. due to long distances between workstations).
  • Overproduction: Producing without a demand (e.g. because of no visibility of customer demand, long set-up times, attempt to avoid long set-up times, having more floor space than required…).
  • Over-processing: Unnecessary processing (e.g. using complicated storage systems when simpler one would be sufficient, creating advanced computer layout models when a simple drawing would be enough).
  • Defects: An inefficient layout leads to more transportation, handling and storage of goods which increases the risk of mistakes causing scrap.

Lean Solutions

Optimizing the production facility layout is a key component to improving the overall production process. Well-designed and optimized production layouts support the production process with appropriate infrastructure and layout.

We implement Lean Solutions to production facility layouts in a similar way to other areas.  The solutions must fit the challenges.

Tangible Improvements

Lead Time
Lean capital equipment plant layout reduced manufacturing process lead time by 45% on all three line outputs
Optimized cylinder plant layout reduced distance material travels by 30%
Change in glass manufacturing plant production layout and process reduced first pass failures by 60%
New plastics packaging plant Lean layout reduced inventory by 60% (worth 1.710,000 USD) from old plant’s layout’s requirements
Greenfield industrial equipment production facility Lean layout reduced land needed by 25%
Optimized floor space utilization avoided costs of 130,000-1.300,000 USD annually
Lean layout project in food manufacturing plant improved capacity thereby avoiding an investment of 6.750,000 USD in additional machinery

To learn more about Lean production facility layout solutions, contact Four Principles today.