Operations Layout, Processes and Product Development
Ghana institute of management and public administration (Gimpa) Operations management group assignment Identifying shops with good as well as bad layout at the Accra mall and assessing efficient and effective or otherwise of operations at the mall and finally creating a new product or service for a particular shop in the mall. By Patricia Oye Asante 07-11-2011 TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION The layout of an operation is concerned with the physical location of its transforming resources, i. e. deciding where to put all the facilities, machines, equipment and staff in the operation.
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Layout is often the first thing most of us would first notice on entering an operation. It also determines the way in which transformed resources i. e. the materials, information and customers flow through the operation (Slack et al, 2004). Lay out plays an important role in informing customers’ choice thus having overall effect on maximizing sales. Customers comfort and convenience is a key factor to consider in layout. According to Slack et al, 2004, layout, like any design activity, must start with an appreciation of the operation’s strategic objectives.
The basic layout is the general form of arrangement of the facilities in the operation. Most practical layouts are derived from only four basic layout types namely: * FIXED-POSITION LAYOUT: – With this type of layout instead of materials, information or customers flowing through an operation, the recipient of the processing is stationary and the equipment, machinery, plant and people who do the processing move as necessary. This could be as a result of the fact that, the product or recipients of the service is too large to be moved conveniently or might be too delicate to move.
Example in Kidney transplant operation, patients are too delicate to move and in constructing a dam, the product is too large to move. * PRODUCT LAYOUT: – This layout is also known as flow or line layout. Here each product, piece of information or customer follows a pre-arranged route in which the processes have been located. Example in Gimpa there are prearranged routines an undergrad must go through to graduate; admission, lectures, quizzes/assignments, semester examinations, project etc. CELL LAYOUT:-This layout is one where the transformed resources entering the operations are pre-selected or preselect themselves to move to one part of the operation or cell in which all the transforming resources, to meet their immediate processing needs are located. Example departmental shop where each area can have particular class of products but will have a baby themed department where all goods displayed have common baby themes. * PROCESS LAYOUT: – With this layout, the needs and convenience of the transforming resources which constitute the processes dominate the layout decision.
Here similar processes or processes with similar needs are located together. This may be because it is convenient to group them together or that the transforming resources are improved. It means that when products, information or customers flow through the operation, they will take a route from activity to activity according to their needs. Different products or customers will have different needs and therefore take different routes. Examples of process layout include hospitals where x-rays machines and laboratories are required by several types of patients.
However quite a number of businesses use a mixture of the afore mentioned layouts and take into considerations cost and flexibility. What type of layout an operation should use is also influenced by the nature of the process type, which in turn depends on the volume-variety characteristics of the operation. The objectives of the operation will also be considered. * Mixed layout. This type of layout combines elements of some or all of the basic layout types. Example a restaurant complex with three different types of restaurants and the kitchen which serves them all.
The kitchen is arranged in a process layout with various processes i. e. , food storage, food preparation, cooking processes etc. grouped together, the traditional restaurant is arranged a fixed position layout where customers stay at their table while the food is brought to the table. The buffet restaurant is arranged in a cell-type with each buffet area having all the dishes necessary to serve customers. On our visit to the Accra mall ground floor, we went to all the shops located there to identify a shop with a good layout and two others with bad layouts.
According to Slack et al (2004), there are certain objectives which are relevant to all operations which make a good layout. This includes; * INHERENT SAFETY: – all processes which might constitute danger to either staff or customers should not be accessible to the unauthorised. Fire exits should be clearly marked with uninhibited access. Pathways should be clearly defined and not cluttered. * LENGTH OF FLOW:-The flow of materials, information or customers should be channelled by the layout so as to be appropriate for the objectives of the operation.
In many operations this means minimising the distance travelled by transformed resources. This may not always be the case especially in a supermarket scenario. * CLARITY OF FLOW:-All flow of materials and customers should be well signposted, clear and evident to staff and customers alike. * STAFF CONDITIONS: – Staff should be located away from noisy or unpleasant parts of the operation especially in a manufacturing set up. The layout should be well-lit and, where possible, pleasant working environment MANAGEMENT CONDITIONS: – Supervision and communication should be assisted by the location of staff and communication devices. * ACCESSIBILITY: – All machines, plant or equipment should be accessible to a degree which is sufficient for proper cleaning and maintenance. * USE OF SPACE: – All layouts should achieve an appropriate use of the total space available in the operation (including height as well as floor space). This usually means minimising the space used for a particular purpose, but sometimes can mean achieving an impression of spacious luxury. Example is the entrance lobby of a high-class hotel. LONG TERM FLEXIBILITY: – Layouts need to be changed periodically as the needs of the operations change. A good layout will have been devised with the possible future needs of the operation in mind. SHOP LAYOUTS On our visit to the Accra mall, one shop whose good layout caught our attention is the Body Basics cosmetics shop. This shop deals in skin care products such as soap, facial scrubs, hand and body lotions, perfumes and is the sole distributor of Doris Michaels brand of make up products such as powder, blush, lip sticks and gloss, eyeliners and other make –up kits and accessories.
At the shop, we realised that there was clarity of flow and use of space, the shop itself is not a big shop and thus one was expecting clutter in the quest to fill the shop with as much products as possible but this was not so. All the products have been stacked neatly on the shelves and clearly labelled. All body lotions are grouped in a particular shelve and arranged according to brands as well, so are perfumes and all the other products. It makes identification easy and the shop is pleasing to the eyes.
The middle portion of the shop has an interesting setting which consists of a make up area where a mini make up studio is set up to test products on customers by friendly staff. The frontage architecture of the shop is made up of an all transparent glass doors which enable customers’ to have a first take of what is in the shop. This contributes a lot to drawing customers especially women to the shop. Regarding staff, the staffs at Body Basic Cosmetics shop were positioned in vantage points and looked well groomed and readily provided product information.
On safety we realised there were smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher in the shop. There is an emergency door exit sign on the door to indicate to customers where to go in case of fire. The entrance is such that, customers can be evacuated easily and quickly in the event of a fire outbreak. Finally we realised the length of flow was short, the distance travelled by transformed resource (customers) is minimised as products are shelved such that you don’t find it difficult to locate or identify a product or service to pick and pay for.
Overall the store atmosphere was fantastic; the colour of the walls was purple which gave a more feminine touch to the shop considering the target market they sort to reach. The shop was well lit and smelled good which makes the ambience alluring and comfortable to shop in. Surprisingly directly opposite Body Basics Cosmetic shop is MOTY (Mother Of The Year) a mother care shop which retails baby clothes, diapers, feeding bottles and other baby essentials. Moty’s layout is bad. The arrangement of the items on the shelves and hangers leaves much to be desired.
On entering the shop, one can see clothes and other store keeping units like diapers, feeding bottles all displayed on one big shelve. Some clothes hang while others are folded. The aisles of the store are cluttered with toys and baby bedding. The shelves are not generally labelled as you walk in. There is not enough amount of room to manovere between displays and this will most likely inconvenience most pregnant mothers with huge bumps. There are only two sales people at the shop one manning the till and the other attending to shoppers this places a lot of pressure on here when the shop gets busy.
There are no emergency exit signs. No fire extinguisher was sighted at the shop. Another shop with bad layout is Jill Clothing and Shoe shop. This shop deals in men and women clothing as well as shoes for both sexes. The lighting in the shop is bad and looks dark. The shoes are not displayed properly but have been bungled together on the display shelf. The clothes for women are hanged on a horizontal display hanger and placed at an obscure part of the shop. Some clothes are also folded and placed one on top of the other.
There are two sales persons in the shop. They seem not to be informed about the products they are offering for sale. Here too, there are no emergency exit signs neither fire extinguishers. The products were not properly displayed and labelled to make flow easy for clients. SHOP OPERATIONS OR PROCESSES According to slack et al (2004) a process is any part of the organisation which takes a set of input resources which are then used to transform something, or are transformed themselves into outputs of products or services which satisfy customers.
A process involves identifying all the individual activities that are needed to fulfil the objectives of the process, and deciding on the sequence in which these activities are to be performed and who is going to do them. All operations must satisfy customers by producing their services and products according to customers’ desires for quality, speed, dependability, flexibility and cost. Most activities in an operation or process relate to each other. There is a way of describing this inter-relation known as Process Mapping. There are many techniques used in process mapping; however all the techniques have two main features which are; 1.
They identify the different types of activity that take place during the process 2. They show the flow of materials or people or information through the process. In process mapping certain symbols are used to classify different types of activity known as Process Mapping Symbols. Below are some common processes mapping symbols. * STORAGE (deliberate storage as Opposed to delay) * DIRECTION OF FLOW * ACTIVITY * OPERATION(an activity that directly adds value) * DELAY(a wait,e. g for materials) * TRANSPORT( a movement of something) * BEGINNING OR END OF PROCESS * DECISION(exercising discretion) INPUTS OR OUTPUT FROM THE PROCESS Process mapping helps to develop the best processes for operations for organisations, by helping to improve the process. On the whole, the main objective is to make sure that, the performance of the process is appropriate for whatever the process is trying to achieve. In determining the effectiveness and efficiency or otherwise of a process, there is the need to look out for certain objectives such as; 1. Process performance where similar levels of flexibility are offered with improved speed of service to increase efficiency. . Throughput, cycle time and work in progress being fast i. e. Speed. 3. Good customer relationship management making the delivery to be of high quality 4. Dependability i. e. the product or service is delivered on time. 5. Errors in the processes are reduced At the ground floor of the Accra Mall one such shop whose operations are really efficient is the SMOOTHIES WORLD. This shop serves smoothies a blended and sometimes sweetened beverage made from fresh fruits to customers. Customers have a choice of adding honey, milk or yoghurt and crushed ice to it.
Upon entering the shop, customers are greeted with a smile and given smoothie chart to choose the combination of fruits one wants for the smoothie. After the order is placed the smoothie is ready in less than five minutes. Within these five minutes, the fruit is washed sliced and blended with ice cubes and filled into cocktail glasses and a straw fixed ready for the customer. The operation is flexible in that, anyhow a customer wants the smoothie to taste like, smoothie world is able to provide. The throughput time is short in that the process of getting the smoothie for the consumer is short and fast.
The staff manning the operation went about the processes with precision and one could tell were experienced thus reducing errors in getting the smoothie to the customer. Comparatively, the cost of the smoothie per glass is cheaper. MARQUIS TANTE MARIE is a restaurant at the ground floor of the mall whose service delivery was not as efficient as we found at Smoothies world. The quality of service was poor. It takes a long time for a waiter or waitress to approach your table once you get seated in the restaurant. The staff seemed impatient and it takes a longer time for orders placed to be brought.
Although there was a lot of variety on the menu, it was not flexible, in that menus can’t be changed slightly to suit customer preference. Example a group member wanted eba and light soup instead of eba and egusi soup, but was told cant be done. There were a few errors in the orders we placed. Dependability and speed was non existent as we had to wait for a very long time before our order was served Another shop whose processes we found inefficient at the ground floor of the mall is FOTOSTORE a still photography shop where all forms of still photos are taken and printed for customers.
Although the shop can boast of current technology in the art of photography in the form of cameras, settings, and printers and are able to come up with fine pictures, the process one goes through to get a photo is inefficient. Long queues can be seen formed inside as people wait their turns to either register to take a photo or those already registered wait their turns to have their photos taken. When it is your turn to take a photo, one is taken to a studio an untidy one as such where one is asked to either make up or adjust clothing before picture is taken.
After a series of pictures taken, a client is asked to wait for quite another considerable number of time before you are called to make a choice or choices in the photos to be printed for you. The printing and finishing is done and one is handed the photos. The process though a simple one is made cumbersome by the lack of staff at the store, the same staff taking bookings are those putting finishing touches to the printed photos. There is lack of communication between the photographer and finishing staff creating errors most times.
There seem to be just one studio setting for taking the photos which seem to be a major cause of the long queues. The shop is such that if the layout is properly designed will make the processes most efficient, dependable, of a high quality and provided with utmost speed. Thus with these three shops, one could realise that Smoothies World had very efficient processes thereby transforming their inputs ( customers) into satisfied outputs whiles Marquis Tante Marie and FotoStore due to their inefficient processes are not able to transform their customers into very satisfied ones. CREATING A NEW PRODUCT