JITE v41n2 - Under Review - Manufacturing Facilities Design and Material Handling

Volume 41, Number 2
Summer 2004


Manufacturing Facilities Design and Materials Handling

By Fred E. Meyers and Matthew P. Stephens
Format: Hardcover, 507 pp. ISBN: 0-13-112535-4
Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall

Reviewed by
Steven E. Rogers
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

For the past two decades, industrial teacher educators have utilized Storm's (1993) Managing the Occupational Education Laboratory and its 1979 predecessor as the basic text for their laboratory planning courses. This textbook provided guidelines on efficient and organized laboratory planning, selecting instructional material and equipment, planning budgets, and the planning of new and remodeled industrial education facilities and laboratories. Storm's text is still very relevant for today's industrial teacher education majors. However, Manufacturing Facilities Design and Materials Handling ( Meyers & Stephens, 2005 ) could provide industrial teacher educators with more current information on designing, planning, and organizing a career and technical education laboratory.

Meyers and Stephens's textbook describes the procedures and techniques for developing a new facilities design, while using the latest in high-tech tools and equipment. The text is based on the collection and analysis of numerous planning activities from manufacturing environments. The authors provide how-to scenarios that allow the reader to develop greater insight into the planning process. The authors also provide excellent definitions of terminology associated with facilities design and planning.


Manufacturing Facilities Design and Materials Handling is a well-written text that is set up in 16 chapters, each focusing on a step involved in facilities planning. The text has a systematic approach, and each chapter builds off the previous chapter in understanding the concepts involved.

At the end of each chapter, short-answer discussion questions and problems help to reinforce the text material. "A Project in the Making" is introduced at the end of chapter 1, which is a continuing case study that appears at the end of nine chapters throughout the text. This case study enables students to use the "Shade Tree Grill Company" to apply the concepts in the text to complete a new facilities design. Learning the procedures and techniques for developing a new facilities design would be incomplete without this real-world application. The text lends itself to be naturally divided into five sections.


Manufacturing facilities design is "the organization of the company's physical facilities to promote the efficient use of the company's resources such as people, equipment, material, and energy" ( Meyers & Stephens, 2005 , p. 1). Items included in facilities design are plant location, building design, plant layout, and materials handling. The focus of this text is on designing lean manufacturing facilities. This means that all aspects of production should work together to eliminate waste. A discussion follows on how to implement kaizen (continuous improvements), the kanban (tote board) system, and value-stream mapping (step assessments) to improve lean manufacturing facility.

The first chapter also includes a discussion on the procedures for facilities design. According to Meyers and Stephens, there are 24 different steps in designing a manufacturing facility. The main point in the design procedure is to make sure that the data analysis is completed before starting the physical planning of a facility.

Data Analysis

The collection of data is the first step in facilities design. Designers must collect information from many different sources and departments. The marketing department provides information on the consumers' wants and needs. The product design team passes on information such as blueprints, a bill of materials, and assembly drawings of the product that will be produced to the facilities designers. Management gives designers information on inventory policy, investment policies, start-up schedules, make-or-buy decisions, and feasibility studies.

After the information is collected, facility designers begin data analysis and process design. This begins in the third chapter with time standards, the time required to produce a product at a workstation. Industry has set forth different time standards that indicate how long it should take to do a certain operation. For example, Meyers and Stephens (2005) note the normal walking pace as "walking 264 feet in 1.000 minute" (p. 51). This leads into process design, which incorporates time standards into the design. Process designers collect information, such as the operation sequence, needed machinery and equipment, conveyor speeds, and the number of workstations and workers, from many departments. This information is then incorporated into the facility design.

A core principle of lean manufacturing is the product-oriented flow layout. This layout is accomplished through flow analysis, which is discussed in chapter 5. Flow analysis considers a product's path through production, but tries to minimize the distance traveled, backtracking, cross traffic, and production costs. The analysis of material flow ensures proper placement of machines and departments to minimize costs.

Activity relationship analysis, which describes the relationship among departments, people, offices, and services, using an activity relationship diagram, is the final step in data analysis. This type of diagram answers the question of how important it is for a certain department to be close to other departments. A detailed understanding of chapter 6 and the activity relationship diagram is necessary before beginning to understand area allocation.

Area Allocation

Area allocation is a process of dividing a building's space into departments. Area allocation is probably the most important decision that facility designers make when it comes to manufacturing design and planning. Chapter 13 discusses the allocation of areas in terms of how much area will be needed for facilities through a total space requirement worksheet. Designers then use this worksheet to determine building size. Once both items are calculated, the designer uses a four-step procedure to determine area allocation.

Chapter 8 discusses auxiliary service requirement space. Auxiliary space includes shipping and receiving, storage, maximizing the use of cubic space, a location system, and storeroom layout. The key areas of auxiliary service space requirements are storage and storerooms; understanding how and why to spend time properly preparing a storage area would help educators.

A discussion on ergonomics and workstation design space requirements in chapter 7 begins the look at area allocation. Ergonomics is "the science of preventing musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace" ( Meyers & Stephens, 2005 , p. 203). Facility designers must design a workspace where the task fits the human body to prevent worker injuries. Designers must also consider other aspects of work safety, including correct work height, adequate lighting, and enough operator space.

Most educators do not get an opportunity to plan and design a new facility from the ground up. However, an administrator might have this opportunity. Chapter 9's focus on employee services space requirements could greatly benefit an administrator's planning of a new career and technical education facility. Areas discussed are parking lots, employee entrances, locker rooms, toilets and restrooms, cafeteria or lunchroom, drinking fountains, and break areas and lounges.

Material Handling

Material handling is "the function of moving the right material to the right place, at the right time, in the right amount, in sequence, and in the right position or condition to minimize production costs" ( Meyers & Stephens, 2005 , p. 287). Using the 20 principles of materials handling found in chapter 10, efficient material handling can add to lean manufacturing by reducing the unit costs of production. These 20 principles are the basic guidelines that designers would use in implementing efficient material handling.

In order to minimize production costs, the proper material handling equipment must be selected. What industrial equipment to use in a manufacturing facility is determined by first determining where that equipment would be needed. Possible areas that would need industrial equipment include shipping and receiving, stores, fabrication, assembly and paint, and warehousing. The next step is determining what equipment is needed, including but not limited to hand carts, fork trucks, pallet jacks, conveyors, and robots. Chapter 11 contains pictures and drawings of every possible piece of industrial equipment that might be needed in designing a manufacturing facility.

Project Completion

The next step in manufacturing facility design is implementing the layout design through facilities layout, which is discussed in chapter 14. The layout is first done through the plot plan, which shows how buildings, parking lots, and roads fit onto the property. A plot plan is then used to develop a master plan, which is the finished product of a facilities designer. The plan would show every machine, desk, workstation, department, restroom, and all other important items located in the facility.

When a master plan is completed, the facility designer would prepare a presentation to his or her clients. The new facility should be presented in a project report and presentation. Chapter 16 gives specific guidelines to follow for the project report and the presentation.

Today, facility designers have the option of using computer simulation and modeling to help in the planning and decision-making of manufacturing facilities. Simulation involves "the modeling of a process or a system where the model produces the response of the actual system to events that occur in the system over a given period of time" ( Meyers & Stephens, 2005 , p. 467). This allows designers to "see" the results of their design before actual construction and make the necessary changes to the design. Mistakes that may have been made in the past will not be made in the future because of advanced simulation and modeling programs.


Manufacturing Facilities Design and Materials Handling is an excellent textbook in describing the procedures and techniques for developing new facilities design. With its sequential order, the text was easy to follow. The information by Meyers and Stephens was thorough and relevant to today's manufacturing facilities. The use of charts and diagrams throughout the text provided excellent resources in providing an understanding of the material. The case study, "A Project in the Making", was invaluable towards understanding the concepts of facilities design.

The text does cover some material that could be useful as a reference guide for industrial education teachers. The third section of the text, Space Allocation, contains many concepts that could be incorporated into a laboratory planning course, including planning storage areas, introducing concepts of ergonomics, maximizing the use of cubic space, and area allocation. Many industrial education teachers have limited laboratory space, and any ideas to improve the quality of education through improving laboratory spaces would be greatly encouraged.

The textbook does not, however, cover essential laboratory planning materials such as information on selecting instructional equipment or information on budget planning required for teacher education majors. Manufacturing Facilities Design and Materials Handling would provide industrial teacher educators an excellent resource in laboratory planning, but it should not be used as the main text in a laboratory planning course.


Meyers, Fred E., & Stephens, Matthew P. (2005). Manufacturing Facilities Design and Materials Handling . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Storm, G. S. (1993). Managing the occupational education laboratory . Ann Arbor, MI: Prakken.

Rogers is a technology education teacher at the Kokomo Area Career Center in Kokomo, Indiana. Rogers can be reached at srogers@kokomo.k12.in.us .