• efficiency;
  • energy use;
  • industrial ecology;
  • industrial engineering;
  • material flow analysis (MFA);
  • scarcity


The Sankey diagram is an important aid in pointing up inefficiencies and potential for savings in connection with resource use. This article, the second of a pair, examines the use of Sankey diagrams in operational material flow management. The previous article described the development of the diagram and its use in the past.

Simple Sankey diagrams follow the requirement of conservation of energy or mass and allow a physical view of production systems. Advanced diagrams integrate stocks of materials beside the flows or show the different (ecological) quality of the materials. For the purpose of management, however, a further step is necessary: to illustrate the economic value of the energy and material flows and to use information from cost accounting. The use of flow charts showing added value or the costs of energy and material flows is particularly important for production systems. This article describes examples of each of these uses as well as assumptions that must be taken into account for Sankey diagrams to be used as an effective aid for decision-making in business and public policy.