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What Is a Product Flow Diagram?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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A product flow diagram is a resource that makes it possible to outline the sequence of events that must occur during the manufacturing of a product. The idea is to identify each step in the process in a logical sequence so that manufacturers can ensure the current process is functioning in the most productive manner possible. Key to the diagram is accounting for the number of products that are used in the creation of a new product and identifying when those sub-products are introduced into the overall production process.

One of the easiest ways to understand how a product flow diagram functions is to take the example of the manufacture of an automobile. In order to construct a car or truck, it is necessary for the manufacturer to purchase or make in-house a number of different components or products that are then assembled into a working automobile. With a product flow chart, each of those components is identified and arranged for use in a logical sequence so that the automobile can be manufactured efficiently. When the diagram is properly organized, this helps to eliminate waste of all resources involved, and also helps to keep labor costs at reasonable levels.

The concept of a product flow diagram can be translated into a number of different settings. Multi-national companies as well as small businesses operating with a single location can make use of this type of business tool. Restaurants can use the diagram to identify the products necessary to the preparation or items offered on a menu. Canneries can make use of this strategy to stay on top of all the supplies needed to manufacture canned goods containing a number of different food or other products. Even locally owned shops can use this approach to provide guidance on the products needed to create those items that are then sold to customers.

At its best, the product flow diagram can help businesses operate at a higher rate of efficiency by making sure there is no phase of the production process that is slowed down by the lack of available materials needed to successfully complete the process. When and as needed, the diagram can be adapted to compensate for changes in the products themselves. Since the elements are arranged in a logical sequence, it is relatively simple to determine when and where something needs to be added, changed, or omitted in the product flow diagram, and make the production more efficient.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Sep 05, 2011

How do I go about creating a product flow diagram?

Is there a software for it? Is it possible to do it in one of the Office programs?

I really want to do one for my marketing assignment, but it looks like it's going to be too difficult on Office Word.

By bear78 — On Sep 04, 2011

@turkay1-- Product flow diagrams are used similarly in food safety. Instead of looking at where we can find lower cost and higher efficiency though, we look at which steps in food production we need to do controls to make sure food is safe.

We don't only check for the quality and safety of food after harvest. We also do it at different points in production, during plantation, fertilization and so forth.

Just as you said, the flow diagram makes the stages easier to understand. So we think about which stages have the highest chances of affecting the safety and quality of food and put controls there.

By candyquilt — On Sep 04, 2011

Product flow diagrams were really important in my previous job. I worked in the manufacturing department of a company and we often used the product flow diagram to determine which steps in manufacturing were essential or were not.

The product flow diagram is really good for that because you can see each and every step leading to the next very clearly. We actually saved a lot of money by checking through the product flow diagram and determining which steps were unnecessary.

For example, one of the last things I did for that company was to combine two of the production steps into one which saved us money and made the process more efficient.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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