Chapter 3. Material flows and logistics operations
3.1. The concept of material flow
The concept of material flow is the key in logistics. Material flows are formed as a result of transportation, warehousing and other material operations with raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products - starting from the primary source of raw materials up to the end user.
The concept of flow as a moving mass is intuitively well understood: the water in the glass on the table is a reserve, we start pouring water, a stream of water will appear. Cars standing in a traffic jam - stock, cars moving on a free highway, - a stream. Material flows in logistics have a similar nature: the set of any real objects, considered not in a state of rest (reserve), but in a state of motion. However, the movement in logistics means not only the movement of something in a certain direction, but also the transition from one state to another, for example:
o goods that are not packaged in a shipping container are converted into a packaged product (packing operation);
o the consignment of goods in the transport unmarked container is converted into a consignment of goods in the transport package marked (marking operation);
o the goods, in the marked transport container, laid on a pallet, but not connected to the pallet into a single whole, turns into a convenient cargo package for processing (packaging operation), as well as many other operations.
Material flows can flow between different enterprises or within a single enterprise. Before formulating the definition of the material flow, let us consider an example of finishing finished products (canned food) from the manufacturer to the store's store:
In Fig. 15 shows the operations that must be performed in order to physically promote the canned food along this chain.
The product (in this case canned goods), considered during the application of the listed operations, is a material flow, which is the main object of management in logistics. Logistics plans this process, determines the technology and chooses the technique for performing certain operations, determines where and in what volume to contain the stock of the product, organizes the document flow, i.e. information support of goods movement, operatively manages the whole through process.
We would like to emphasize that the canned products produced by the manufacturer are transferred to wholesale warehouses, and then come to retail trade for more than one century. However, never in previous centuries the chain of operations for the movement of canned goods (as well as other products) was not covered by a unified management system. Necessity in such management was not, the possibility of such management was absent. Accordingly, there was no need in the term denoting the object of this control.
A commonly accepted definition is: a material stream is a product with tangible form (goods, parts, inventory, etc.) , considered in the process of applying various logistical operations to it given time interval.
Fig. 15. Sequence of operations to bring finished products from a cannery to the store's store
Using the term material flow is justified only if there is a single system for managing the end-to-end chain of operations for the promotion of products and only within a controlled chain. The lack of a logistics approach to the organization of commodity circulation deprives the use of this term both practical and scientific meaning.
Allocations for the movement of goods, parts, inventory through transport, production, warehouse links allow:
o see the general process of moving a changing product to the end user;
o Design this process to fit the needs of the market.
The dimension of the material flow is a fraction, in the numerator of which the unit of measurement of the product having a real form (pieces, tons, etc.) is indicated, and in the denominator - the time unit (day, month, year, etc.). ). For example, tons/year, wagons/month, containers/shift etc.
For some logistic operations, the material flow can be considered for a given point in time. Then it becomes a material reserve. For example, the operation of cargo transportation by rail. At the moment when the cargo is on the way, it is a stock, the so-called stock in the way.
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