According to VDI, “material flow” is the interlinking of all processes involved in extracting, processing and distributing goods within defined areas. Material flow includes all forms of the passage of work objects (e.g. materials, parts, data carriers) through a system. A distinction is made: processing, testing, handling, conveying, staying and storing (cf. guideline VDI 2689 (draft), guideline for material flow investigations, basics).

System” in this case describes the range between the input and output of working objects. The system can be a single small area (e.g. a workstation) or a conglomerate of different areas (a company, complete plant).

“Work objects” can exist in many different forms, for example in the form of objects, people, information or energy.
A material flow is created when system states (position, quantity, composition, quality) of work objects change.

More information on material flow control can be found under Material flow control as a service for a distribution center.

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