A Guide to Understanding Materials Quantity Variance

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Auto part suppliers that rely on steel will continue to scrutinize materials price variances and materials quantity variances to control costs, particularly in a period of rising steel prices. The difference in the quantity is multiplied by the standard price to determine that there was a $1,200 favorable direct materials quantity variance. This is offset by a larger unfavorable direct materials price variance of $2,520. The net direct materials cost variance is still $1,320 (unfavorable), but this additional analysis shows how the quantity and price differences contributed to the overall variance. In this case, the actual quantity of materials used is 0.20 pounds, the standard price per unit of materials is $7.00, and the standard quantity used is 0.25 pounds.

Direct materials quantity variance

A number of parties may be held responsible for an unfavorable quantity variance (or take credit for a favorable variance!). For example, the scrapping of a number of units in the production process may mean that the quality of incoming components was inadequate, which could be the problem of the purchasing department. Conversely, the same level of scrap may be caused by improper equipment setup, which is the responsibility of the industrial engineering staff. Or, the issue may be caused by improper training of the production staff, which is an issue for the production manager. Thus, some extra investigation is needed before the raw data represented by a quantity variance can be acted upon.

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If your business makes fancy bow ties, the direct material is silk, for instance. We actually paid $38,080 for materials we expected to pay $40,800 for. Our purchasing department was able to find materials for less than our standard, saving us a significant amount of money, which in turn improves the bottom line, which means this is a favorable variance. We could interpret the negative number as “below expectations” which is possibly a good thing when it comes to cost.

If the standard quantity allowed had exceeded the quantity actually used, the materials usage variance would have been favorable. From the accounting records, we know that the company purchased and used in production 6,800 BF of lumber to make 1,620 bodies. Based on a standard of four BF per body, we expected raw materials usage to be 6,480 (1,620 bodies x 4 BF per blank).

  • Connie’s Candy paid $2.00 per pound more for materials than expected and used 0.25 pounds more of materials than expected to make one box of candy.
  • Standard costing allows comparison between actual costs incurred and budgeted costs based on standards.
  • In a movie theater, management uses standards to determine if the proper amount of butter is being used on the popcorn.
  • Thus, the standard used to derive the variance is more likely to cause a favorable or unfavorable variance than any actions taken by the production staff.

This is a favorable outcome because the actual quantity of materials used was less than the standard quantity expected at the actual production output level. As a result of this favorable outcome information, the company may consider continuing operations as they exist, or could change future budget projections to reflect higher profit margins, among other things. The total direct materials cost variance is also found by combining the direct materials price variance and the direct materials quantity variance.

How to Calculate Materials Quantity Variance

The producer must be aware that the difference between what it expects to happen and what actually happens will affect all of the goods produced using these particular materials. Therefore, the sooner management is aware of a problem, the sooner they can fix it. For that reason, the material price variance is computed at the time of purchase and not when the material is used in production. A favorable materials quantity variance indicates savings in the use of direct materials. An unfavorable variance, on the other hand, indicates that the amount of materials used exceeds the standard requirement.

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The variance is calculated using the direct materials quantity variance formula, which takes the difference between the standard quantity and the actual quantity, and multiplies this by the standard price per unit of material. If the actual quantity of materials used is less than the standard quantity used at the actual production output level, the variance will be a favorable variance. A favorable outcome means you used fewer materials than anticipated, to make the actual number of production units.

In this case, the actual price per unit of materials is $6.00, the standard price per unit of materials is $7.00, and the actual quantity used is 0.25 pounds. As you’ve learned, direct materials are those materials used in the production of goods that are easily traceable and are a major component of the product. The amount of materials used and the price paid for those materials may differ from the standard costs determined at the beginning of a period. A company can compute these materials variances and, from these calculations, can interpret the results and decide how to address these differences.

Responsibility for Quantity Variances

For example, if a standard quantity of 10 pounds of iron is needed to construct a widget, but 11 pounds are actually used, then there is a quantity variance of one pound of iron. The variance typically applies to direct materials in the manufacture of a product, but it could apply to anything – the number of hours of machine time used, square footage used, and so on. The standard cost is the amount your business expected to pay for each unit of raw material. We’ll discuss this in detail later, but companies that use the standard costing system to value their inventory correct their inventory account balances with the materials quantity variance. Note that both approaches—the direct materials price variance calculation and the alternative calculation—yield the same result.

Thus the standard quantity (SQ) of 420,000 pounds is 2 pounds per unit × 210,000 units produced and sold. For Boulevard Blanks, let’s assume that the standard cost of lumber is set at $6 per board foot and the standard quantity for each blank is four board feet. Based on production and sales being equal at 1,620 units, the total standard cost would have been $38,880. The same calculation is shown using the outcomes of the direct materials price and quantity variances. The direct materials quantity variance should be investigated and used in a way that does not spoil the motivation of workers and supervisors at work place.

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Profit margins have been cut in half since steel
prices began rising. Before you start production, estimate the amount of direct material used in one product or manufacturing run. the 4 best reasons to use accounts receivable financing GR Spring and Stamping, Inc., a supplier of stampings to automotive companies, was generating pretax profit margins of about 3 percent prior to the increase in steel prices.

In the standard costing system, material costs are posted at the standard price. The actual quantity (1,200 sheets) of plastic is removed from the raw materials inventory at the standard price (4.00) giving a credit entry of 4,800 posted to the account. The standard quantity (1,000) which should have been used in production is transferred to work in process inventory at the standard price (4.00), giving a total debit entry of 4,000. The difference between the two postings is the variance of -800, which is posted to the direct materials variance account as a debit representing the unfavorable variance. These thin margins are the reason auto suppliers examine direct materials variances so carefully. Any unexpected increase in steel prices will likely cause significant unfavorable materials price variances, which will lead to lower profits.