Factory Overhead

What is Factory Overhead?

Factory Overhead, also known as manufacturing overhead, comprise of all indirect expenses incurred by the business in the regular running of operations of a factory. It doesn’t include the direct cost incurred by way of labor cost as well as material cost.


  • These are all indirect costs, they can’t be attributed to a particular product or service directly and includes expenses like depreciation, rent expenses of factory, electricity, property expenses, supervision expenses, etc.
  • These expenses are allocated using a variety of methods, which can be based on the amount of time spent as a percentage to direct material cost or direct labor cost or prime cost, to name a few. Due to the Indirect nature of such expenses absorbing these expenses requires judgment and allocation skills on the part of the organization to provide a clear picture of expenses incurred.

Factory Overhead

Classification of Factory Overhead

These overheads are incurred on account of meeting the regular functioning of the factory and keeping the administrative expenses incurred regularly, associated with the working of the factory. It can be classified in several ways. Some of the most popular classification techniques are enumerated below:

#1 – Percentage of Direct Material Cost

It is the simplest and the most popular method, in those cases where the factory overhead cost is substantial to the total cost. Under this, the overhead rate is determined, and expenses are absorbed as per the rate.

Overhead Rate = (Direct Material Cost / Factory Overheads) * 100

#2 – Percentage to Prime Cost

Another technique to classify Factory overhead is to compute it as a percentage of the prime cost (which includes direct material cost, direct labor cost, and direct expenses cost).

#3 – Percentage to Direct Labor Cost

Under this, it is classified as a percentage of the direct labor cost incurred by the business. However, the method lacks in giving due recognition to time devoted to work by skilled and unskilled workers and leads to bias results.

Examples of Factory Overhead

ABC International is into manufacturing oh sports shoes. The company manufactures customized sports shoes based on customer requirements. Recently ABC International has decided to quote for a tender comprising deliver of 10000 sports shoes for LIFA brand based out of Norway.

You can download this Factory Overhead Excel Template here – Factory Overhead Excel Template

ABC International has furnished the following cost expected to incur in manufacturing of 10000 shoes:

Factory Overhead Example 1

ABC International charges a 20% gross margin on direct costs and a 10% margin on factory overheads. Based on the same the price at which ABC International will quote for manufacturing 10000 shoes is as follows:

Factory Overhead Example 1-1

Calculate the total manufacturing overhead:

Example 1-2

Calculate the selling price per unit:

Example 1-3

Thus ABC International should quote $3.33 to LIFA Brand for manufacturing 10000 sports shoes.

How are Factory Overheads Accounted for by the Business?

  • The allocation of factory overheads is quite challenging but, at the same time, crucial in a manufacturing set up. The cost involved is substantial and proper apportionment necessitates correct allocation to derive the real profitability of the respective departments.
  • These are firstly collected from all departments/divisions. Then these are bifurcated into those which can be allocated and those which cannot be assigned. After that, based on classification, as discussed above, overheads are accounted for each division/department. Based on this, an overhead rate is determined. It is used for budgeting purposes and comparisons over the period to determine under or over absorption.


  • It enables the business to determine true profitability by taking into consideration indirect expenses incurred by the business.
  • By determining this, a business can analyze and make peer comparisons to see how their competitors are faring in and whether such expenses are more than their competitors and accordingly can take remedial actions to control them.


  • These are indirect costs, and it is difficult to control them, unlike direct costs, as they don`t have a direct link with the output and, in some cases, are difficult to allocate as well.
  • The allocation of factory overhead is a cumbersome process, and there is no single method that is entirely objective. Due to this limitation, at times, such overhead leads to the wrong estimation of production cost or rendering a service.
  • Another big drawback is that allocation is generally based on machine hours or labor hours. However, it has been observed that not all factory overhead is linked to these factors; expenses like rent, insurance taxes are not affected by these factors much.


  • Factory Overhead is a significant expense incurred by the business, especially in manufacturing set up, and it involves all indirect expenses which cannot be directly attributable to any particular job or work is undertaken.
  • However, their importance is equal, just like direct expenses, and needs to be accounted for with utmost care. Another critical factor is the general nature of these expenses. Most of these are fixed or semi-variable, unlike direct costs, which are mostly variable. As such, business needs to understand these factory overheads holistically and keep a tab on them as these are most difficult to control and also at the same time pivotal to the success of a business.

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