Material Control

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on March 23, 2023

Material Control: Definition

Material control is the process of systematically controlling materials over the stages of procurement, storage, and usage so as to help maintain the regular and uninterrupted flow of the materials in the production pipeline.

No system of costing is complete without an effective material control system. Material control is a system that ensures the provision of the required quantity of materials of the required quality at the required time with the minimum capital investment.

Material Control: Explanation

Materials are all the commodities consumed in the production department to produce items either directly or indirectly.

Inventory is a common term used for raw materials, components, work-in-progress, and finished goods stocked in the store.

Materials are also vital for calculating the cost of production. In some cases, materials account for more than 65% of a product's cost, and so proper control over them is necessary.

An efficient material control system helps to substantially reduce the cost of materials and, in this way, limits the total production cost.

Systematic and effective control over materials also helps to maintain production schedules, meet market demand, and avoid excessive investment in inventories.

Scope of Material Control

The following functions are within the scope of a material control system:

  • Receiving of materials
  • Storage of materials
  • Issuing of materials

Objectives of Material Control

The main objectives of material control are the following:

To Ensure Uninterrupted Production

The first objective of material control is to ensure smooth production by making available all types of required materials in the required quantity at the right time.

The uninterrupted supply of materials is essential for the smooth flow of production, which is important for the success of any business.

To Provide Required Quality of Materials

The second objective of material control is to ensure the availability of all types of materials of the required quality.

If the quality of the materials is low, it will affect product quality. In turn, this will affect the company's reputation and sales.

To Minimize Wastage and Loss of Materials

Material control systems also aim to control or minimize all types of wastages and losses of materials that may arise due to carelessness in the storing, issuing, and handling of materials.

To Control Investment in Stock of Materials

An important aim of material control systems is to minimize the capital investment in the stock of materials.

Materials are purchased and stored before the actual production commences. A large amount of capital may be locked up in materials that may not be required at that time.

Similarly, there may be sometimes be under-investment in materials, leading to interruptions in production due to non-availability of the required quantity of materials.

An efficient material control system helps to ensure the optimal investment of capital in the purchase of materials.

Advantages of Material Control System

The main advantages of an effective system of material control are summarized as follows:

  • Prevents production delays due to lack of materials by ensuring steady supply of required quantities of materials at the right time
  • Ensures the production of high-quality products by purchasing high-quality materials
  • Eliminates wastage in the use of materials
  • Reduces the risk of loss from fraud and theft
  • Reduces the cost of storing and issuing materials
  • Minimizes capital investment in the stock of materials
  • Quickly and accurately assists in valuing materials used in other departments
  • Helps to keep perpetual inventory and other records to facilitate the preparation of accurate material reports

Principles of Material Control

As discussed above, the functions of an effective system of material control include scheduling of the requirements, purchasing, receiving, inspecting, and maintaining stock records.

To ensure the effective and efficient operation of the material control system, it is important to follow these principles:

  • There should be proper coordination among various departments, particularly the production department, purchasing department, inspection department, stores department, and cost department.
  • There should be a centralized purchasing set up under the authority of an experienced and competent purchase manager.
  • Standard printed forms should be in use for making requisitions, placing orders, receiving materials, inspection of materials, and issue of materials for consumption.
  • There should be an efficient arrangement for storing materials to avoid the possibility of deterioration of quality, theft, and wastage.
  • There should be an effective system of internal checks covering every aspect, thus ensuring proper control over transactions at every stage. Each transaction relating to materials must be approved by the relevant authority.
  • There should be a proper system for the valuation of materials issued to production since it strongly influences costing records.
  • A perpetual inventory system should be used to ensure that the stocks of various items of material are recorded after each transaction.
  • Regular reports should be prepared on the quantity and value of materials received and issued, as well as the balance in hand.
  • There should be regular reconciliation of the reports on materials with corresponding accounting records.

Material Control FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.