The Importance of Good Shop Layout By Richard S. Budzik originally appeared in SNIPS Magazine.

Basically, a shop layout is a floor plan showing all the machinery, equipment and materials needed, beginning with the receipt of raw materials (sheet metal and other times) and progressing to the shipment of the completed products (pipe, fittings, and miscellaneous sheet metal items). The best shop layout permits the quickest flow of materials at the lowers cost, with the least amount of handling. To arrive at the best shop layout, the sheet metal contractor must consider numerous factors, including the building available, the machinery and the equipment he currently has made plans to acquire, the items made in his shop, and the employees he has.

Making the Shop Layout

If you are planning the layout of a smaller shop or a section of a larger shop, you could use a drawing board or drawing table for your new layout. For a larger shop plan, you might consider making the complete shop layout in sections. This permits easy access to any section when working on it separately. 

Scale of Shop Layout

The best scale to use is with ¼" equal to one foot for the shop lay­out; in this way, it is large enough for adequate detail yet not so large as to be difficult to work with. When making the prelimi­nary sketches of large work areas for the first general plans, you might find it advantageous to use a smaller scale such as ¼" equal to one foot. When laying out smaller areas or when you need to show considerable detail, you could use larger scales such as ¾" or ½" equal to 1. 

Steps in Making the Shop Layout

When making the scale drawing of your shop floor plan, do not lo­cate any movable items such as machinery or material racks. Fol­low these steps:

  1. Locate all existing walls, columns, power sources, doors, and loading areas. 
  2. Draw to scale the equipment or machinery you now have, such as benches, material racks, shears, brakes, notcher, etc. Draw these preferably on col­ored paper and label each piece.
  3. Cut them out and proceed to place them in the best possible order. Keep the previously mentioned "principles of shop layout" in mind. If you use ¼” graph paper, you will be able to save the time and trouble of measuring.