Product Layout vs Process Layout: Difference and Comparison

Product Layout involves arranging equipment and workstations in a linear fashion to optimize the production of a specific product, enhancing efficiency and reducing material handling. On the other hand, Process Layout organizes workstations based on the functional characteristics of equipment, promoting flexibility but potentially leading to increased material movement and production time.

Key Takeaways

  1. Layout organization: Product layout arranges equipment and workstations in a linear sequence, while process layout groups them based on their functions.
  2. Flexibility: Product layout is designed for a specific product or range, whereas process layout accommodates multiple product types.
  3. Workflow: Product layout has a streamlined workflow with minimal bottlenecks, while process layout may experience variable workflow depending on product mix and demand.

Product Layout vs Process Layout

The difference between product layout and process layout is that Product Layout is one in which the machines are set up systematically such that the output of one device is the input of another machine while Process Layout is one in which machines are set up at different locations, a variety of products can be produced by altering the order of these processes.

Product layout vs Process layout


Comparison Table

FeatureProduct LayoutProcess Layout
ArrangementResources (workstations, machines) are arranged sequentially in the order of production.Similar resources and workstations performing the same function are grouped together.
Production TypeSuitable for mass production of identical products.Suitable for production with diverse product specifications or custom orders.
Flow of MaterialsLinear flow with minimal material movement.Variable flow depending on the job requirements.
SpecializationWorkstations are highly specialized for specific tasks.Workers have a wider range of skills to handle different processes.
EquipmentOften uses dedicated, high-volume machinery.May use flexible, multipurpose equipment.
InspectionMinimal inspection during the sequence.Frequent inspections at various stages.
Cost StructureHigh fixed cost (investments in specialized machinery) and low variable cost per unit.Lower fixed cost and higher variable cost per unit due to potential rework.
Advantages* Efficient for high-volume production * Low unit cost * Streamlined workflow* Flexible for diverse products * Accommodates customization * Lower skill requirements for workers
Disadvantages* Less adaptable to changes in product design * Prone to disruption if one machine breaks down * Requires high initial investment* Less efficient for high-volume production * Can lead to more work-in-progress inventory


What is Product Layout?

Characteristics of Product Layout

  1. Sequential Arrangement: Product layout involves arranging the production process in a sequential order. Each workstation is dedicated to a specific task, and products move through the line in a linear fashion.
  2. Specialization: Workstations are specialized for particular tasks, allowing workers and machines to become highly proficient at specific operations. This specialization contributes to increased productivity and reduced production time.
  3. Assembly Line Concept: The assembly line is a common implementation of product layout. Each station along the line focuses on a specific aspect of the assembly process, with the product gradually taking shape as it moves from one station to the next.
  4. Standardization: Product layout is most effective when dealing with standardized products. The uniformity of products facilitates a smooth and continuous flow through the production line, minimizing disruptions and delays.
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Advantages of Product Layout

  1. High Efficiency: The sequential arrangement and specialization lead to high levels of efficiency. Each workstation is optimized for its specific function, minimizing idle time and streamlining the production process.
  2. Economies of Scale: Product layout is well-suited for large-scale production, resulting in economies of scale. As the volume of production increases, the average cost per unit tends to decrease, leading to cost advantages.
  3. Reduced Work-in-Progress: With a continuous flow of products through the production line, the amount of work-in-progress inventory is reduced. This not only saves space but also lowers the risk of obsolescence.

Challenges and Considerations

  1. Limited Flexibility: Product layout is less adaptable to changes in production requirements or the introduction of new products. Altering the layout can be time-consuming and may disrupt the entire production process.
  2. Dependency on Demand: The success of product layout is closely tied to consistent and predictable demand for the standardized products. Fluctuations in demand can lead to overproduction or underutilization of resources.
  3. Initial Setup Costs: Implementing a product layout system often requires significant initial investments in specialized equipment and machinery. These costs may pose a barrier to smaller enterprises.
Collection of natural soaps placed on marble table

What is Process Layout?

Characteristics of Process Layout

1. Flexibility

Process layouts are highly flexible, accommodating a variety of products and production requirements. The layout allows for easy adjustment to changes in product design or production processes without significant disruption.

2. Varied Equipment

Different types of machinery and equipment are grouped together based on their functions. This allows for specialized equipment to be used for specific tasks, optimizing efficiency for each process.

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3. General-Purpose Machines

Process layouts often employ general-purpose machines that can be adapted for various tasks. This versatility is essential in handling diverse product lines and customized orders.

4. Higher Skill Levels

Due to the varied nature of tasks in process layouts, workers are generally required to possess higher skill levels. This is in contrast to product layouts where repetitive tasks may require less specialized skills.

Advantages of Process Layout

1. Versatility

Process layouts excel in handling diverse products and adapting to changes in production requirements. This versatility is beneficial in industries where customization and variety are key.

2. Efficient Resource Utilization

General-purpose machines and equipment are utilized efficiently, as they can be adapted for different processes. This results in better resource utilization compared to specialized equipment used in product layouts.

3. Worker Satisfaction

Workers in process layouts often engage in a variety of tasks, contributing to a more interesting and engaging work environment. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and motivation.

Disadvantages of Process Layout

1. Increased Material Handling

The decentralized arrangement of equipment in process layouts often leads to increased material handling, which can result in higher costs and longer production cycles.

2. Higher Initial Investment

Process layouts may require a higher initial investment in terms of space and equipment, as the layout is designed to accommodate a variety of processes.

3. Complex Planning and Control

Coordinating diverse processes can be challenging, requiring complex planning and control mechanisms to ensure smooth operations and optimal efficiency.

Examples of Process Layout

Process layouts are commonly found in industries such as job shops, hospitals, and research facilities. In a hospital, for instance, different departments like radiology, surgery, and laboratories are organized based on their specialized functions.

Main Differences Between Product Layout and Process Layout

  • Product Layout:
    • Also known as line or assembly line layout.
    • Arranges machines and equipment in a linear sequence.
    • Designed for high-volume, standardized production.
    • Each workstation is specialized for a specific task in the production process.
    • Workflow is continuous and follows a predetermined sequence.
    • Minimal material handling within the production line.
    • Well-suited for industries with mass production of standardized products.
  • Process Layout:
    • Also called functional or job shop layout.
    • Organizes machinery and workstations based on the type of operation or process.
    • Suited for custom or low-volume production with varying requirements.
    • Workstations are grouped according to the functions they perform.
    • Flexible and adaptable to changes in production requirements.
    • Material handling can be more complex, involving movement between different work centers.
    • Common in industries with diverse products and customized orders.


Last Updated : 08 March, 2024

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