Absorption of Overheads: Definition, Bases and Methods

Overhead absorption helps the company to understand the true cost of producing each table and chair, taking into account both the direct costs and a reasonable share of the indirect costs. This information can then be used for pricing decisions, profitability analysis, and other important business decisions. This process is known as absorption costing because a proportion of the fixed cost is absorbed into the product cost. For example, the costs of all the raw materials used to make a product can be added to the direct labour to provide the cost of making each item. (i) It does not consider the share of other factors of production other than direct labour. In many concerns, machinery is considered the major factor of produc­tion but not the labour.

  • If the factory overhead for department ‘A’ for a particular period amounts to $10,000 and the department manufactures 2,000 units, the overhead rate per unit amounts to $5 ($10,000 + 2,000 units).
  • (i) It is a more realistic, logical and scientific method for absorption of ‘overheads’.
  • Calculating overhead absorption rate per labour hour is the simplest way to establish overhead costs.
  • (5) The total of standing charges per hour and machine expenses per hour is the ordinary machine hour rate.

If the factory overhead for department ‘A’ for a particular period amounts to $10,000 and the department manufactures 2,000 units, the overhead rate per unit amounts to $5 ($10,000 + 2,000 units). Then machine hour rate is obtained by dividing the total overhead for the machine cost centre by the anticipated machine hours. Care must be taken to compute anticipated machine hours, only normal https://quick-bookkeeping.net/ idle time (for repairs and maintenance etc.) is considered but abnormal idle time must be excluded. Machinery hour rate means the expenses incurred while running a machine for one hour. No doubt, it is quite logical and- scientific method for absorption of factory overheads used in production. This method is applicable where machinery is predominant and where there is uneven production.

Our work has been directly cited by organizations including Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Investopedia, Forbes, CNBC, https://kelleysbookkeeping.com/ and many others. This ensures that the cost pertaining to a cost center must be absorbed as per the set norms.


But where a pre-determined rate is used, there is generally a difference between the overhead absorbed and the overhead incurred. If the absorbed amount is less than the actual overhead, there is said to be an under-absorption of overhead. Importantly, using the direct wages as a base for calculations ensures that the costs are allocated proportionally, as larger projects need to cover a larger fraction of overheads. If 25 hours are spent on a job, then the absorption on the job will be of $0.2 x 25 hours (i.e., $5). This method should be applied when labor is the main factor of production. Therefore, it becomes necessary to charge overheads to the cost of products, jobs, and processes according to certain well-established norms and scientific reasoning.

  • It considers the time factor and so it is a rational method for the absorption of factory overheads.
  • At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content.
  • The graph shows that absorption costing takes what is a fixed cost ($10,000 per year), and converts it to a cost per unit of activity, effectively treating it as a variable cost ($10 per unit).

The direct materials cost is $30,000, and the direct labor cost is $20,000. Furthermore, it predicts the labour hour for each product to be 2 hours. To calculate this rate, ABC Co. must decide which basis to use for calculation. If ABC Co. uses total units produced, this rate can be calculated using the following formula. The hours may be the number of hours for which the machine or group is expected to be operated, the number of hours which would relate to normal working for the factory, or full capacity. So, under this method, overhead absorption rate is calculated by dividing the overhead to be absorbed by the number of hours for which the machine operates.

What are the benefits of using a blanket absorption rate?

This means the amount of overabsorbed and underabsorbed overhead should eventually offset each other. The amount of the under-absorbed overhead is adjusted by adding it back to the cost of https://business-accounting.net/ production. For example, if during the month of March 2019, overheads absorbed are $9,500 and actual overheads are $10,000, there is an under-absorption of overheads to the extent of $500.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Absorption Costing

(1) If wages are paid on piece rate basis, the time factor is totally ignored. The formula to calculate the rate using a percentage basis is as below. (3) Ascertainment of machine hour rate requires skill and detailed working knowledge.

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A common absorption rate is not appropriate when a factory has many departments, or when the jobs or units of production do not spend an equal amount of time in each department. The company for Production 1 has calculated the OAR as 7.38 per direct labour hour. We know that the actual hours worked were and are now told that the actual overheads are £102,650. Additionally, it is not helpful for analysis designed to improve operational and financial efficiency or for comparing product lines. In the case of under-absorption, the cost of production is deflated to the extent of the amount under-absorbed. For example, if during the month of march 2019, overheads absorbed are $9,500 and actual overheads are $10,000, there is an under-absorption of overheads to the extent of $500.

Here, according to this method of overhead absorption, $5 per unit will be taken as factory overhead. It refers to the application of overheads based on the number of units of output manufactured during the period. The total amount of overhead accumulated for a production department is ultimately charged to the various cost units of that department. Overhead absorption is defined as the allotment of overheads to cost units. When the amount of overheads has been determined on the predetermined basis for each cost center, the next step is to charge it to production. Assigning overheads to departments ensures that all jobs and Units of Production are charged with their fair share of overheads.

This method is simple to operate as the prime cost data is easily available. If there is only one rate of wage per hour paid throughout a cost centre and no form of incentive scheme exists then the Direct Wages system would be more appropriate to use. This method of overhead absorption is not commendable since its use leads to some absurd anomalies. Certain factors are considered for choosing a particular and appropriate base for absorption of overheads, but final choice is a matter of judgement arid common sense. (1) When material forms major part of total cost, time factor is ignored.

The chosen base should have a reasonable correlation with the incurrence of overhead costs. While both the rates are different, the cost of a product will not change regardless of which basis the company uses. That means the company will still charge $10 ($5 overheads absorption rate x 2 labour hours per product) overhead absorption rate to products even if it uses the labour hours basis. If the company has different products that take require different labour hours, the overhead absorption for each product will significantly differ for each product based on which basis it uses.

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