## Definition

Fixed Manufacturing Overhead Volume Variance quantifies the difference between budgeted and absorbed fixed production overheads.

## Formula

=

-

=

Actual Output x FOAR*

-

Budgeted Output x FOAR*

* Fixed Overhead Absorption Rate per unit of output

## Example

Motors PLC is a manufacturing company specializing in the production of automobiles.

Information from its last budget period is as follows:

Actual Production

275,000 units

Budgeted Production

250,000 units

\$2,000 per unit

Calculate the fixed overhead volume variance.

(275,000 x \$2,000)

\$550 m

(250,000 x \$2,000)

(\$500 m)

\$50 m
Favorable

Note:

It may appear strange to you that even though the absorbed fixed overheads are higher than the budgeted overheads, the variance is described as being ‘favorable’ which is usually not how cost variances are interpreted. In short, this variance is used as a balancing exercise when fixed overhead expenditure variance is calculated. For more detail on this, see the explanation below.

## Explanation

Fixed Overhead Volume Variance is the difference between the fixed production cost budgeted and the fixed production cost absorbed during the period. The variance arises due to a change in the level of output attained in a period compared to the budget.

The variance can be analyzed further into two sub-variances:

The sum of the above two variances should equal to the volume variance.

Fixed overhead volume variance helps to ‘balance the books’ when preparing an operating statement under absorption costing.

Sales Quantity Variance already takes into account the change in budgeted fixed production overheads as a result of increase or decrease in sales quantity along with other expenses.

At the same time, fixed overhead expenditure variance accounts for the difference between actual and budgeted expense rather than the flexed expense unlike other expenditure variances.

This implies that the difference between budgeted and flexed fixed cost is included twice in the operating statement. Sales volume variance removes the effect of such duplication.

As fixed costs are not absorbed under marginal costing system, fixed overhead volume variance (and its sub-variances) are to be calculated only when absorption costing is applied.

Fixed Overhead Capacity Variance calculates the variation in absorbed fixed production overheads attributable to the change in the number of manufacturing hours (i.e. labor hours or machine hours) as compared to the budget.

The variance can be calculated as follows:

= (budgeted production hours – actual production hours) x FOAR*

* Fixed Overhead Absorption Rate / unit of hour

Fixed Overhead Efficiency Variance calculates the variation in absorbed fixed production overheads attributable to the change in the manufacturing efficiency during a period (i.e. manufacturing hours being higher or lower than standard ).

The variance can be calculated as follows:

= (standard production hours – actual production hours) x FOAR*

* Fixed Overhead Absorption Rate / unit of hour

## Example

Continuing the Motors PLC example above, we have the following data from its last period:

Actual Production

275,000 units

Budgeted Production

250,000 units

\$2,000 per unit

Standard machine hours per unit

10 hours

Actual number of machine hours

3,000,000

Budgeted production hours (250,000 x 10)

2,500,000

Less: Actual production hours

(3,000,000)

500,000

Fixed Overhead Absorption Rate / unit of hour (\$2,000 / 10)

x 200

Variance

100,000,000
Favorable

The variance is favorable because Motors PLC managed to operate more manufacturing hours than anticipated in the budget.

Standard production hours (275,000 x 10)

2,750,000

Less: Actual production hours

(3,000,000)

250,000

Fixed Overhead Absorption Rate / unit of hour (\$2,000 / 10)

x 200

Variance

50,000,000

The variance is adverse because Motors PLC utilized more manufacturing hours in the production of 275,000 units than the standard.

Proof Check

\$100,000,000

Favorable

(\$50,000,000)

Total

\$50,000,000

Favorable

\$50,000,000

Favorable

## Limitations

Fixed Overhead Volume Variance is necessary in the preparation of operating statement under absorption costing as it removes the arithmetic duplication as discussed earlier. However, besides its role as a balancing agent, the variance offers little information in its own right over and above what can be ascertained from other variances (e.g. sales quantity variance already illustrates the effect of an increase in sales quantity on the overall profitability).

The traditional calculation of sub-variances (i.e. fixed overhead capacity and efficiency variances) does not provide a meaningful analysis of fixed production overheads. For instance, if the workforce utilized fewer manufacturing hours during a period than the standard (the effect of which is more adequately reflected in), it is hard to imagine a significant benefit of calculating a favorable fixed overhead efficiency variance.