What is a material flow analysis?
A material flow analysis systematically records transport and storage processes within a factory (internal material flow) or outside the factory (external material flow) and provides a deeper analysis. A material flow analysis is the basic for holistic material flow planning.
An internal material flow analysis takes into account all goods and material flows included in the production chain - from goods receipt and storage locations to production and goods issue. As part of the material flow analysis, costs are assigned to the individual material flows in order to uncover cost drivers and weak points in the course of optimization
What are the goals of a material flow analysis?
The goal of material flow analysis is to uncover and eliminate bottlenecks and weak points in material flows. Through a targeted improvement of transport processes the company will experience:
- Lead times reduced,
- Production processes and synchronization improved,
- increased flexibility and
- cost reductions.
Evaluation Methods Within the Framework of Material Flow Analysis:
Different methods can be used within the framework of material flow analysis:
- The flow chart makes material flows clearly apparent and how they are interconnected.
- In material flow matrices, all positions involved in the material flow are recorded and compared. The adjacency matrix, for example, shows whether there is a material flow relationship between location1 and location2 (1) or not (0).
- Within the framework of a cost evaluation, the investment costs for logistics equipment and means of transport are considered on the one hand and the operating costs for personnel on the other.
- The calculation of area capacity shows where bottlenecks are to be found. The following formula can be used for the area capacity: area used/total area. The size of the material area and the number/size of the containers on this area play a role.
- A heatmap (e.g. the route heatmap) shows the number of routes over a route section. The heatmap makes bottlenecks at certain times easily visible.
- With the help of simulation, changes to material flow can be compared and validated before operational implementation. This advantage is often almost impossible without the support of software.
Reasons to use material flow analysis and planning
Increasing complexity leads to a supply that is hard to keep under control. This leads to delays in the production process as a result. An inventory of the situation as part of a material flow analysis reveals cost-causing bottlenecks.
Transport systems are often purchased when bottlenecks are apparent. However, it is often enough to assess the capacity utilization, control the transport system differently, or adjust work schedules instead of making an expensive investment in new means of transport. A material flow analysis helps you reveal this potential.
The better the planning, the better the supply in the production process. The basis of material flow optimization is a systematic material flow analysis. In the best case scenario, processes can be visualized and transparency created.
Procedure: Plan & Optimize Material Flow in 5 Steps
Planning fundamentals (resources, processes and time modules, parts lists, shift schedules, parts data, production data, Excel sheets) are established.
2. Determine Layout & Spatial Situation
A layout of the situation on site is created. Storage locations and stopping points are defined. A layout is then created based on the information collected. Solid layout planning is important for the systematic linking of conveyor technology with the defined spatial conditions.
3. Modeling of Material Flows
In the created layout, the flows of goods are modeled and the parts are assigned. Lead times are defined.
4. Calculation of Resource Requirements
In the next step, calculation methods are used to determine the resource requirements based on the product range and production quantities.
5. Calculation of Costs
In the last step, a cost and personnel evaluation can be generated.
What are the benefits of software-supported material flow planning and analysis?
- Automated transportation planning and evaluation
A continuous and optimized planning of tugger trains and means of transport is possible with the right tools. This planning can be evaluated, simulated and visualized. Software calculates the amount of transports required to implement the specified production program and evalutes them with a Sankey diagram.
- Quick rescheduling & analysis
Support through software makes it possible to quickly react to a changing product range. New key figures are available at the push of a button.
- Line back calculation
The necessary resources are determined and planned based on the production program and the raw material used.
- Detailed process times
Process times for thousands of parts can be stored at once, all within one software.
- Automated evaluation
The software allows for automated evaluations of resource demand and employee demand (dynamic, not a static Excel daily average). Based on a value stream analysis, for example, automated tugger train planning can be created with direct results such as tugger train requirements, employee requirements, tours per day, total distance and process times.
- Simulation and visualization
A 3D simulation for visualization and validation help the planner in optimizing the material flow. No more unfortunate surprises because an Excel formula was copied incorrectly.
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