Factors for consideration in planning material flow


Many factors have to be taken into consideration for planning material flow in supply chain. In this article we are listing below each and every factor with necessary explanation wherever required. These factors will determine some of the characteristics of the flow pattern. All these factors must be taken into account before the actual task of designing a flow pattern. The factors are listed below:

Material or product (elements flowing through the facility)

1. Characteristics
a) Receipts: These pertain to inputs for production like raw materials, factory operating materials, packing materials etc.,
b) Shipments: These are mostly finished goods. The latest development is direct dispatches from plants on the basis of intranet communication from various distribution points.

2. Volume of production.

3. Number of different parts including Spares required for machinery in the plant and also for the spare parts market required for finished products of the company.

4. Number of operators: A HR specialist may be required here for categorization of various jobs and determining the number.

5. Storage requirements like layout, material handling equipments, automation if necessary for removal and transferring the items to manufacturing shop floor, protection of stores from weather and are of storage required for different value of materials. Secure storage facilities may have to be provided for high value items like Brass and copper, Silver and Gold and special electronic gadgets.

Materials movement:

1. Frequency
2. Speed
3. Rate
4. Volume
5. Scope
6. Area.
7. Distance
8. Sources.
9. Destinations
10. Required flow between work areas.
11. Location of receiving and shipping.

Handling Methods

1. Types of items to be handled
2. Possible use of gravity
3. Desired flexibility
4. Equipments required.
5. Possible alternatives

Activity Centers

1. Process development of using both the hands through fixtures and suitable wok bench storage bins. Low tension switch gear encompasses this type of process.
2. Sequences of operations.
3. Possibility of performing during move.
4. Product or Process layout
5. Quantity of equipment.
6. Space requirements.
7. Number of sub-assemblies.


1. Size
2. Shape
3. Type
4. Number of floors.
5. Location of doors.
6. Location of columns.
7. Aisle width location.
8. Ceiling height
9. Desired location of departments (Plant layout).


1. Topography
2. Infrastructure facilities like power, main road accessibility, water, markets of consumer goods and schools in the vicinity for working personnel & families
3. Transportation facilities.
4. Expansion possibilities.


1. Number
2. Movement
3. Safety
4. Working conditions.
5. Supervisory requirements.


1. Location of auxiliary services and activities.
2. Possible damage of materials.
3. Cost of implementation.
4. Production control.
5. Flexibility
6. Expendability
7. Levels of activity.

In conclusion the committee of specialists appointed by the firm may adopt a 10 or 100 point scale and ascertain importance (like 3 highest, 2 medium, 1 least) to each attribute work out the score before taking a final decision on each factor. The specialists must include from each and every functional area. This must be headed by the Chairman and Managing Director or President of the company so that decisions are not kept pending for approval of authority.