Layout optimization with the circle method according Schwerdtfeger

Kreisdiagramme in Ausgangs- und Endzustand

There are a variety of methods for optimizing the layout in a factory planning process. In many cases the method of Schmigalla is used. However, it is quite complex to implement for the start. Much faster for first solutions are the graphic methods. A method for this is the circle method according SCHWERDTFEGER.

The method

In a graphical method the result is up to the planner. Through experimentation and experience leads to more and more optimized solutions.

The starting point in the process of SCHWERDTFEGER is a circle. Along the circle are located the examined departments (or work places, resources, equipment). The order of departments plays no role at the beginning.

Structure for the Schwerdtfeger circle method
Structure of the departments along the circular line

Next, the transport links between the various departments are located. I use it mostly for the annual demand of a product. Which is usually immediately on hand or can be easily determined using the ERP system. And it gives a good orientation in case of similar products.

Depending on where the focus of optimization should be, other transport relations fit better.


  • Number of orders
  • Load weight
  • Number of transport processes

The correct procedure would use the number of transport processes, because this has to be mostly optimized.

The relationships must exist in a so-called from-to matrix.

From - To - relations departments
From – To – relations departments

When you are drawing the lines it’s best to store more information in it. Depending on the importance – eg. B. transport volume – varying the thickness of the line:
The thicker, the more transports.

Instead of the lines, I prefer to use arrows. This one gets additionally a sequence information into the system.

After SCHWERDTFEGER following conditions apply for optimization:

  1. The most important connections are as close together as possible
  2. Important connections do not pass through the circle
  3. If possible, all connections are made on the circumference

The actual optimization process is a rearrangement of the departments to the above conditions as well as possible met.

An example

In the initial state there are several lines right through the circle. Red and yellow lines indicate the main material flows.

Example for the Schwerdtfeger circle method
Example of a circle chart in the initial state

After optimization of the main material flows in accordance with the above rules, the arrangement might look like this:

Example of building the circle
Example of a circle chart in the optimized state

When you look at the results, you may see a potential arrangement of the departments in your layout. Or if it’s maybe better do create areas of isolated department groups.

Optimized circle method
Analysis of the result

And now good luck for your optimization!


For further information have a look at the following articles:

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