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The Maintenance Management Blog

July 28, 2022

Making the Count

Image: hand holding barcode scannerA while ago, you finished a home project. At that time, you noticed you were getting low on certain parts (screws, 2x4s, bolts, etc.). You meant to order/purchase more, and you meant to keep better track of the inventory quantity in the future.

Time passes and you have another project. Uh-oh! You discover—maybe too late—that you don't have enough parts to finish. What if the job is important, critical, or urgent? Now you're regretting not keeping a better count of what you have.

Not keeping up to date on inventory quantities can be much riskier in the workplace. Many companies will institute routine physical counts.

"Bob, go count everything and bring back the numbers."

After Bob completes the arduous task, you, his supervisor, update the spreadsheet column by column, row by row. Are you taking into account discrepancies? Are you okay with those?

Or what if you wanted only a certain set of items or a shelf of items counted? Or inventory in multiple locations? Do you write down what you want Bob to count? Isn't there an easier way?

The CMMS from Mapcon Technologies simplifies the physical counting of inventory. In three easy steps, the quantities of parts and tools, and supplies are organized within the system. To start, go to: Inventory>Inventory Physical Count Menu. There are four reports that will be affected by the information entered into the other three steps.

Manage Inventory Cycles

This is where you create the count cycles, the list of what you want counted. Of course, as with all lists in MAPCON, the Lookup tab is the current set of cycles. Let's move on to the Create Cycle tab. There are three required fields but be aware of the options.

Cycles – You have to name the cycles, so give each an identification that makes sense to you. Part of the name might correlate with a stockroom. Part of the name may indicate where in the stockroom the parts are located. A lot is determined by how you've stored inventory and what you want counted.

Example 1: For this, I'll keep it simple. One stockroom, three shelves, four cabinets. What do you want counted? Everything? Name it All. Want only items on a certain shelf or cabinet? The name might be Shelf 2 or Cab 4.

Example 2: Multiple stockrooms in Buildings 1-4 with various shelves, bins, and cabinets. Name a cycle B1-All indicating you want everything in Building 1 counted. Name another B2-Bin 5.

The choice is yours. You keep it simple to understand.

Stockroom – This is easy. Follow the above examples. If your company has only one stockroom, you've probably named it Main or Storage or something easy to recognize. For multiple stockrooms, input those names.

Maximum Number of items per cycle count sheet section – How many items do you want counted? All of them, or do you want Bob to stop when he reaches 900? This is a way to break up a large number of parts to count into smaller groups. Let’s say you had 1000 parts to count and entered 250. You would get four sections of 250 parts each. That way, you can hand out the sheets to different people to count simultaneously or count in more manageable sections. Let's face it, after counting hundreds of anything will turn Bob's brain to mush for a moment and you need a break. This is a way to enforce that so counts will be more accurate.

Another suggestion is that you set this number even lower for easier and faster counts. Along with this, develop a plan to 'freeze' the stockroom. You don't want parts going in and out between the count and the reconciliation. How you manage this is up to you. Posting guards in suits and shades at the head of each aisle might be a bit intimidating. A more interesting method came from a real-life experience where a former police officer turned supervisor was in possession of rolls of Police Line. Do Not Cross tape. He'd block off certain aisles during the count.

I'll highlight the options but, again, these are determined by what you want counted.

Price Filter and Filter Price – Do you want everything or only items that are greater/lesser than an X price? ("No need to count the 1¢ items, Bob.")

Classes – Some industries use classes for cycle counts. For an explanation of them, visit Indeed. MAPCON gives you the option of inputting a Class.

Checkboxes will allow you to include items not assigned to a location, items that are not seeded, and whether to count non-valued items. ("Yes, Bob, count the safety goggles and each pair of gloves."). Since they have no 'location' they are sorted by part number. It is suggested that this box be unchecked for all other cycles. Save these for a special count since it might take longer to find these parts. (Wouldn't want to pay Bob overtime.)

The second box might be important because MAPCON wants a quantity of an item before it can be issued. Seeding the part gives it a quantity. By counting the non-seeded items, now you have a quantity to input, thus the item becomes seeded.

Three other windows allow you to further refine what is counted. Location, Specific Items, and items by Category.

Once this cycle is saved, you can come back to it for future counts.

Ready for one of the fun parts? Click Generate Cycle Count Sheets Now. This will bring up a window asking you if the sheets are to be printed. Click yes for a preview, print, give the sheet(s) to Bob, and send him on his way. These sheets will have all the information he needs on where and what to count.

Or wait until you have created all your cycles and print the sheets at the same time. That's what the Print Count Sheets menu item does.

Enter Item Count Quantities

"It's about time you got back, Bob."

Yes, your diligent employee has taken the printed sheets, counted everything, and hands you the quantities to input into MAPCON. Once again, the Lookup tab shows you the created cycles. Normally, you'll double click on the specific cycle to bring up the information on that inventory. Stock #, item, where its located, Quantity On Hand (QOH), and Current Quantity On Hand (CURR QOH). It is with these last two where you are concerned.

CURR QOH – This is the amount MAPCON shows you have.

QOH – This is the amount Bob counted. Input the numbers into the blue field.

Wait! Let's make it easier. Depending on the item, the numbers may not change from cycle to cycle or may have minor variances. (The CURR QOH says 5, and Bob counted 5.) Why input the same number time after time for each item?

Solution: Click Copy Qty On Hand. This puts the CURR QOH totals into the QOH fields. Now, all you have to do is change any that are different on Bob's sheets.

By the way, you have to input a number even if Bob found no items. MAPCON won't let you leave it blank. This is a good thing because MAPCON doesn't want you inadvertently to skip something. Nothing in stock? Input zero.

Reconcile Counted Items

The last step is approving what Bob counted, what you input, and if it did differ from what MAPCON showed.

Once again, double-click on the cycle you want. This opens up the information in the Main tab. In the Count Sheets window, search for and add further count sheets. The window shows when they were generated, printed, updated, and reconciled last. Two check boxes indicate that the sheets are ready to be reconciled and to Reconcile Now.

Wait! Want a preview of the report? Click Run Pre-Reconciliation Report. It'll show you all those totals and discrepancies. Before you Reconcile Checked Items, indicate if you want MAPCON to cite any discrepancies. This is a good way to double check before approving the count. The system will ask if you want to accept the new information. Maybe there is an item you need to double-check. ("Bob, go count those power drills again.")

Once everything is reconciled, you're off and running with an updated MAPCON.

The other reports in the menu, as mentioned, are based on these cycles and reconciliations. One to especially note is titled Item Count Accuracy. This report will show the item, date it was last counted, the Counted Quantity on Hand, the Difference, and the Accuracy rate. It's another to ensure the correct quantity.

An adage states that you shouldn't have too much inventory because it's not cost-effective. However, don't run out. With MAPCON's Inventory Cycles, you keep better track of exactly how many parts you have.

For more information, on cycle counts, call 800-223-4791.


Stephen Brayton

About the Author – Stephen Brayton


Stephen L. Brayton is a Marketing Associate at Mapcon Technologies, Inc. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a degree in Communications. His background includes radio, hospitality, martial arts, and print media. He has authored several published books (fiction), and his short stories have been included in numerous anthologies. With his joining the Mapcon team, he ventures in a new and exciting direction with his writing and marketing. He’ll bring a unique perspective in presenting the Mapcon system to prospective companies, as well as our current valued clients.


Filed under: inventory management, count cycle — Stephen Brayton on July 28, 2022