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Manufacturing Plant Types, Part 3

Manufacturing Plant Types, Part 3

By Bob Sproull

Review of Understanding Manufacturing Plant Configuration Types, Part 2

In Part 2 of this series, I explained the V-Plant and I-Plant configurations and then listed the characteristics and potential consequences of these two types of manufacturing plants.

In this post, I will complete our discussion on manufacturing plant configurations by describing the flow of the T-Plant. Again, this discussion will include both characteristics and potential consequences. From there, I will explore the interesting subject of combined plant types.

Much of what has been included in this series is taken from the book I co-authored with Bruce Nelson, [1] Epiphanized.

The T-Plant

In essence, the general flow of a T-Plant is similar to an I-Plant, except when it reaches the end of the I-Line. At that point, the flow branches into different products or different model numbers.

One example is the different options you might get with automobiles. Automobiles follow a single assembly process but near the end, they might be outfitted with different option packages, such as leather seats versus cloth seats, or a premium stereo system versus a lesser stereo system. In essence, it’s the same car, but with different options at the end. The T-Plant concept could also apply to software, in instances when you get versions of the same computer with different languages. The figure below displays what a T-Plant configuration looks like.

T-Plant characteristics and consequences

The characteristics of a T-Plant include multiple models of virtually the same end product and varying degrees of sophistication of end products. Both of these traits result in multiple choices from which customers can choose.

The consequences for a T-Plant are similar to an A-Plant, especially in terms of part shortages, which will have a major impact on process synchronization. T-Plants also suffer from the misallocation of parts that is common to the V-Plant. Some parts can be “robbed” along the way to make other products. 

Combined plant types

Most systems will contain some type of a combination when it comes to plant configurations. It is possible that your system could start with an I-Line, move into a V-Line, then back to one or more I-Lines, recombine into an A-Line and finish with an I-Line. The figure below provides an example of the combined lines concept.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, I encourage you to read a series I published earlier this year for ECi Software Solutions exploring the past, present, and future of manufacturing.

Until next time,

Bob Sproull


[1] Bob Sproull & Bruce Nelson, Epiphanized—A Novel on Unifying Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma, 2nd edition, 2015, Taylor and Francis Group

Bob Sproull

About the author

Bob Sproull has helped businesses across the manufacturing spectrum improve their operations for more than 40 years.

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