Materials Management is simply the process by which an organization is supplied with the goods and services that it needs to achieve its objectives of buying, storage and movement of materials. Materials Management is related to planning, procuring, storing and providing the appropriate material of right quality, right quantity at right place in right time so as to co-ordinate and schedule the production activity in an integrative way for an industrial undertaking. Most industries buy materials, transport them in to the plant, change the materials in to parts, assemble parts in to finished products, sell and transport the product to the customer. All these activities of purchase of materials, flow of materials, manufacture them in to the product, supply and sell the product at the market requires various types of materials to manage and control their storage, flow and supply at various places. It is only possible by efficient materials management. The materials requirements planning, purchasing, inventory planning, storage, inventory control, materials supply, transportation and materials handling are the activities of materials management. They will be discussed in details in various chapters to follow.
About 20-25 years ago, there was no cut-throat competition in the market to sell the various consumer items manufactured by different industrial undertakings and the availability of materials to manufacture these items was not scarce. Therefore, materials management was not thought to be so important and its separate identity in the organization was not felt. But today it has become an important management activity to streamline production.
Actually before the production begins it is necessary to ensure availability of all the types of materials needed for production and its supply at the various production centers. Planning, purchasing and scheduling are the main functions of materials management. It aims at improved productivity. It is used to reduce the cost, which increases profitability and streamlines the production. Apart from management of material cost and its supply it helps in its proper utilization, transportation, storage, handling and distribution.
The market research and forecasting both for sales of company’s product and purchasing of various materials required for producing the product are needed at the planning stage. Purchasing, procurement of materials, transportation, storage, inventory control, quality control and inspection of materials and goods supplied at various production centers before production are also managed as routine work. Materials handling, packaging, warehouse planning, accounting, scrap, surplus and obsolete materials disposal, finished goods safety and care are the activities managed by the materials management department. Selection of personnel for marketing, purchasing, inventory control, stores management and materials handling and their training and placement is also to be seen by the materials management department
This indicates that it is very essential to have a materials management department in any organization to support the management in the production activities. It also helps in the marketing, sales promotion and control of all the types of materials for its quantity, quality and cost.