Material flow diagrams - definition and applications

Material flow diagrams - definition and applications

What is a material flow diagram?

Material flow diagrams (aka material flow charts) are used to visualize the use of materials. e.g. along a supply chain. Illustrated through Sankey diagrams they can be combined with energy and cost flows.

Definition & applications

A material flow diagram is used to illustrate material and mass flows in a visually appealing way. Thus they can show e.g. the distribution of goods or the consumption of resources within a production system. Furthermore they are applicable for holistic material flow analyses. They can cover a great number of areas, such as: 

  • Material flow analysis and management
  • Supply chain management
  • Plant planning
  • Process engineering
  • Logistics

Visualized by so called Sankey diagrams – with flow widths proportional to the flow quantity – material flow diagrams draw the attention to the biggest mass flows of the system.

Mass flows in material flow management

Sankey diagrams are well suited for an effective material flow management and analysis. Within the flow diagram all relevant material and energy flows as well are visualized.

The focus is on improving energy and material efficiency and on the creation of closed loops. By doing this, companies can save resources as well as costs which leads to a more sustainable production.

Distribution of goods and logistics

Material flow charts can also be quite helpful for the visualization of the distribution of goods, within a factory hall, an entire location or for regional and supra-regional transportation.

The benefit is evident: ways and flows containing a high level of traffic volume can be identified and later on modified. Bottlenecks can be reduced and the distribution of goods can be handled more efficiently.

Our software solutions

e!Sankey

Using our software e!Sankey you can visualize material flows through appealing Sankey diagrams. Furthermore you can link flow values to Excel tables. This is quite helpful, e.g. for periodical changes (per month, per year...). To the software e!Sankey

To the software e!Sankey
Umberto Efficiency+

If you wish to analyze your entire material flows rather than just visualizing them, our material flow management software Umberto Efficiency+ is the perfect solution. Using Umberto you can analyze the entire use of materials and energy. Through a holistic material flow cost accounting (MFCA) you can increase your resource efficiency permanently. To the software Umberto

To the software Umberto

Advantages:

Material flow charts provide a lot of benefits for the visualization of material usages.

  • holistic view on material streams
  • Illustration through Sankey diagrams with widths proportional to the amount
  • Clear distinction through color sets
  • Balance check of input and output flows
  • Combination with energy and cost flows

Rising material costs and a sustainable consumption of resources are the most important challenges of the time. Material flow diagrams support you identifying losses, closing loops and increasing resource efficiency in a sustainable way.

ifu Expert News

Monthly whitepaper, best practice examples etc. on sustainable production