What Is a Material Flow System?

material flow systemsMaterial flow systems are used in the manufacturing process as automated units in industrial production. The primary function of these systems is to transport or feed blanks, parts, pre-fabricates, or other components to a machine tool or remove items once finished.

The material flow process does not have to utilize only one machining process; it can use multiple machine stops along a designated path. Essentially, when discussing material flow systems, we are talking about the transportation of a raw good to a finished product through production.

What Is a Material Flow Analysis (MFA)?

Material flow analysis, or substance flow analysis as it is sometimes called, is the study of material flow management for costs, efficiency, and sensitive data analysis in the industrial production process. This process is used by to study the method and quantities of a well-defined system and to interpret the effects of human interactions of temporal and spatial scales during such procedures.

While there are ecosystem applications, many industrial engineering companies mainly focus on the method’s role in industrial and manufacturing processes.

Material Flow Basic Principles

There are two main principles of material flow analysis (MFA) system approach and mass balance. The system approach is about system definition or model definition. An MFA system includes specific processes and a system boundary, allowing for control over the study’s parameters and a more focused analysis. The system approach also includes precise definitions of goods, substances, and materials.

Mass or process balance is about quantifying individual elements of processes, not just an economic accounting. Taking such a specific approach is vital to implementing a href=”/”>industrial engineering solutions and maintaining optimal operations while reducing waste.

Why Is Material Flow Important?

manufacturing material flowMaterial flow and material flow analysis are important parts of industrial manufacturing and production for many reasons, in particular efficiency and costs. A manufacturer relies on a lean manufacturing process to ensure profitability, but if there is too much waste in the production process, the company loses money in the long run.

By working with lean manufacturing consulting firms and committing to MFA and restructuring material flow when necessary, a manufacturer saves money and optimizes performance, resulting in improved fiscal performance.

Types of Material Flow

When considering the types of material flow, we are typically looking at external material flow versus in-house material flow. External material flow refers to logistics, the transportation of raw materials and finished goods. In-house manufacturing material flow refers to any movement within the facility. For example, the delivery of raw materials, the transfer to machining and assembly, and the loading of the finished products onto delivery trucks are examples of a basic material flow.

Manufacturing Material Flow

In manufacturing material flow, a company must optimize processes to save money and improve efficiency. An MFA can help you make the most out of your operations in several crucial areas, including dock utilization, space utilization, tool collaboration and consolidation, and reduced congestion.

Space utilization alone can help improve material flow, increasing safety and reducing expenses. To make the most of your space, designate specific areas for raw materials and finished goods. Beyond that, you want to identify storage needs and methods, focusing on reduction.

Material Flow in Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is about the flow of physical products and materials and the communication required to form a profitable supply chain. When reviewing supply chain management processes, there are three definitive flows: material flow, data flow, and money flow. Material flow is the primary consideration because, without it, the other flows would not exist.

As a leader amongst manufacturing engineering companies and experts in material flow systems and analysis, Design Systems Inc. looks to help all manufacturers optimize their flows. We provide insight and analysis to help you make the most of your processes.