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What are Sankey diagrams?

A Sankey Diagram Says More Than 1.000 Pie Charts

What are Sankey diagrams? Engineers and environmental scientists will be able to answer this question: Sankey diagrams visualize mass or energy flows with arrows whos magnitude correspond to the quantity of the flow. They are named after the Irish engineer Cpt. Phineas H. R. Sankey, who first published such a diagram in 1898. Visualization is key to understanding. Sankey diagrams immediately draw the focus to the widest flows (i.e. the largest quantities in the system displayed) and are a great way to convey flow data without many words in presentation or reports.

Visualize environmental impact, value streams (cost), or even risk

They also help to discuss energy consumption, material losses, or value streams within the company to identify hotspots or discuss measures for optimization. The more than 7.000 e!Sankey users worldwide are mostly process engineers, plant managers, people in facility management and energy management, but also financial controllers. This light-weight and easy-to-use software helps them to visualize flow data. Many Sankey diagrams published in reports, presentations or on websites deal with energy flow data (energy distributions and consumption within a company; see figure at the top). However, Sankey diagrams are also popular to show flow of material/goods in a production line or along a supply chain. In addition to the actual physical streams of material and energy, the idea has also been taken to a higher level by visualizing environmental impact, value streams (cost), or even risk.

e!Sankey on the SustainHub

The iPoint SustainHub enables you to collect information along the supply chain and tackle material and product compliance and e!Sankey complements these areas of action visually. Availability of flow data may be an issue when looking beyond the next tier in the supply chain. Nevertheless, for a company’s own processes and production flow, data should be available in a Manufacturing Execution System (MES), an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, or in local databases. We use the e!Sankey Software Development Kit (SDK) for customization and integration of Sankey diagrams with other solutions where flow data calls for a Sankey diagram visualization.

Try the e!Sankey software free-of-charge and start drawing your first Sankey diagrams right away.

> Download a free 14-day trial version of e!Sankey 4 pro

(Special Offer: SustainHub users can order a 1-year subscription license for only 195 US$ / 160 €.)

Daniel Maier

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