June 08, 2022
Stockroom Challenges - Part I
Presenting the first of a five-part series discussing challenges in your stockroom. Yes sir, you have a brouhaha brewing in there. Your inventory is disorganized, missing, and not being used. Because of this disarray, repairs and preventive maintenance has been delayed or halted, workers are frustrated, production costs have risen, and you're getting narrow-eyed looks from the CFO, the CEO, and the rest of the alphabet management.
Chaos, unfortunately, is the natural order of things. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it's true. If you don't believe me, take a look at the middle drawer of your desk. It used to be organized, but now you scrounge through folders and pens and whatnot to find a single paperclip. Look at your home workshop. For further evidence, head down to your local small engine or auto repair shop. How many are clean and spotless with everything in its place?
Yes, it takes time and effort to stay organized. It takes determination, dedication, discipline, and probably a couple other 'D' words to remember to put rearrange everything the way you found it. How many times did you hear that as a child or told your own children? "Put it back where you found it."
Never fear, dear reader. As your humble servant, I am here to assist with practical advice. Yes, I have the solution. Actually, it's pretty simple, but you have to have the wisdom on how you're going to utilize it. Otherwise, you'll encounter other problems for which I won't have time to handle. I'm too busy organizing my own desk drawer.
To keep these blogs as organized as possible, I've separated the challenges into groups that share commonalities.
First, let's look at two scenarios you may find familiar.
Scenario 1 - home
A. You have an emergency repair at home. A pipe burst or a piece of machinery has broken at a crucial moment (and I'm not talking about the television going on the fritz when you're watching the ninth inning, bases loaded). You rush to the workshop to discover—oh no!—you don't have the one part that's needed. You didn't replace it after you used the last one.
B. You had promised to devise a system, or said you'd try to remember, that when you reached a certain quantity, you'd buy more. The flip side of this is, when at the store, you think you're out of another item, so you buy more, only to discover you have too much.
C. One of the problems you have at home is watching the ballgame instead of conducting an inventory count. Yes, I mean a physical count (using your fingers and toes if you must) and recording that number somewhere you can easily reference. Because you haven't done the count…
D. You have no idea how many of each item/part/tool/supply presently are on hand.
You are in trouble. The water is rising, and tonight's guests will be arriving soon.
Scenario 2 - office
Take the above situation and transfer it to your workplace. A piece of equipment breaks down, but your stockroom doesn't have the necessary parts for the repair. No one set a minimum threshold before replenishment. No one remembers doing a physical count of inventory. Therefore, you don't know how many items you have.
You're in trouble, because that machine is a vital part of the production line.
At home, a bit of discipline is so valuable. Depending on how much stuff you have, create yourself a spreadsheet to help. Then, each time you use an item, update the document.
For your facility, let's go beyond the spreadsheet (because it's too limited) and use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). This is a more comprehensive method to track inventory. With proper utilization, you'll create your list of inventory. When doing so go ahead and make that physical count so you have a place to start. Schedule regular counts. The system will show you discrepancies, so you'll be up to date. You'll be better assured of the quantity on hand.
The best part of this is you tell the system what the minimum quantity will be, then a purchase request or purchase order will automatically be generated.
Once you have the data set, your CMMS will keep you rolling. First, however, you must plan. This may take some time and effort, just as it would for your home workshop. What information do you want input into the CMMS? What's necessary will differ from facility to facility. Meet with your team and/or management. Bring doughnuts. Discuss the company's need in regard to inventory control. You've done your research and discovered a CMMS is the way to be cost effective, but you'll want to know exactly what inventory information you want.
Afterward, give a call to 800-922-4336. That'll get you a friendly Mapcon Technologies representative in Des Moines, Iowa, who will further discuss your plans.
It's the first step to defeating your inventory challenges. Meet me here next week for more. (I know, you can't wait.)