Plants and factories position workers and set up machines on the production floor in ways that create an efficient and effective manufacturing process. In a fixed product layout, the product stays in one place and the workers, tools and materials come to the product until it is completed. This design layout minimizes the chances the product could become damaged because it is not being moved between work stations. However, the floor plan does pose some disadvantages.
A factory using a fixed-position layout has to carefully plan the schedule for workers to each have the necessary time allotted to work on the specific phase of the manufacturing process. If one worker is not available or is not working to his capacity, this can slow down all other phases of the process. The product could exceed its development deadline, and the factory can lose money in overhead costs.
Because the product stays in one place, the equipment and tools needed for the product must be able to move. Mobile equipment allows for workers to position themselves in the necessary places, yet costs more and has higher maintenance and repair costs than stationary equipment.
Materials and equipment must arrive at the time specified for use, which can be a disadvantage. In other layout designs, materials and equipment can be stocked and placed in a designated work station to await the next phase of the manufacturing process. When materials and equipment have to travel to the product, only a certain number of items can take up room. Because excess materials take time to be moved from the area, it can cut into workers' time on the product.
Depending on the number of workers needed during certain phases of the manufacturing, work space can become limited. The workers must try not to bump into each other while maneuvering equipment about, especially if the product is relatively small. This can also create a tense working environment with workers attempting to give space to others, causing them to slow down in the process.