November 07, 2022
Organizing Your Stockroom
I'm sure you've visited a small-engine or auto repair shop and seen the area full of old, used parts, dirty tools, and piles of discarded items. Isn't your first question: How does this guy find anything?
As a sole owner, the repairman may know exactly where everything is and if he has a particular item in stock. Maybe he doesn't.
How about your garage or home workshop? Are you amazed at how much stuff accumulates over the years? It takes a real effort to keep everything organized.
Look at the storage or stockroom in your facility. Do you see the same clutter? Do you know if you have a certain part or tool and the quantities on hand? What if an emergency repair is needed and a required item either can't be found or the last one was used for another job?
If you need better organization, do you know where to start? I'm here to make life easier.
Think of the five 'W' questions reporters are supposed to ask when covering a story. What, where, when, why, and who. Add in 'how' as the bonus question. Use these six questions for six easy steps to help you get organized. Keep in mind, that some steps may take longer to complete. It all depends on how much disorder you have.
What do you have? Make a list. Get as detailed as you want on specifications. Size, weight, cost, etc. You might want to group them into categories. Tools (and even here you might make subgroups), belts, pumps, fasteners, filters, hoses, switches, etc. If you're looking at other supplies, what categories can you create? Cleaning, oil, lubricants, janitorial, breakroom, etc.
How many of each item do you have? Take a physical count and plan on regular cycles of counts. Determine how low you want the amount to be before you order more.
Where are they located within the stockroom? Specify aisle, shelf, bin, drawer, closet, etc. Knowing where an item is, saves workers searching for it and gets them onto 'wrench time' faster.
When was it last used? If no records have been kept, this may be a difficult determination. Maybe it's a spare part used once every year or so. Do you have an invoice for when you purchased the item? That could tell you how long it's been around. Knowing when a part/tool was last used helps avoid stuff taking up space better utilized for something else, especially if there are too many.
Do you have random parts/tools for which you haven't a clue why you need them? As part of the 'what do you have' list, add in the equipment on which you'd use the items. If you have regular preventive maintenance, some parts/tools might be used each time. Create kits or tool groups for the jobs. Again, this saves time searching for individual items.
Do items go in and out of the stockroom daily? Who uses them? When are they returned? Set up a system of issues and returns. One benefit is if a certain item is out for repair, you'll know you can't issue that item for something else.
Now that you have a good handle on the stockroom, let's use those same 'W' and 'H' words on purchasing those items. This is another part of organization.
Who are your vendors? Make a list of suppliers and what you'll be purchasing from them. Who is your main contact? Who, in your plant, will be using what you purchase?
Contact information for those vendors. Address, phone, fax, email, website, terms of purchase.
What are you buying? (This was mentioned in the Who question, too.) What, if any discounts do the vendors offer? What equipment will be associated with the stock you're purchasing?
How reliable are your suppliers? How often do they not deliver on time or send too many/few items? Is over or under shipments going to be a problem?
This is a bit trickier, but I'm thinking in terms of when you need a lot of items from one vendor. It's a stretch, granted, but relate this question to delivery times. Do you want forty from the same vendor coming one at a time or forty items delivered in the same shipment? Create blanket purchase orders. This saves time and costs.
Why do you need vendor tracking and reports? What if there is an invoice discrepancy? What if you've paid one price for years and now you've paid a different price? You want to know why.
Now that you have this list of organizational steps, you might have some more 'W' and 'H' questions to ask.
"What system would be best for inventory and vendors?"
Answer: Whatever works for you. Spreadsheets come to mind. They have worked in the past and, for some data, they still do. However, for some of the questions already asked, they don't do so well. Issue/returns, quantity changes, location, BPOs, or in fact, all the purchasing-related questions.
Another solution is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). A quality system handles all of those organizational questions and more. A CMMS would give you numerous reports for cost tracking and automated purchase requests for when quantities reach that minimum threshold.
"How would I go about using a CMMS?"
Planning comes first. Since we're talking about stockroom organization, you create the What do you have and How many do you have lists first. The rest are important options to consider.
With no plan, you won't know what you'll want the system to do for you.
Next, you'll input the information into the system, then receive training on operating the CMMS software. Then you'll be ready to use in actual practice and look for new features as you progress.
Stockroom organization is important for your operation. Otherwise, work isn't being done because no one knows where the parts are or if they're even available. You'll end up costing the company more with delays and downtime.
"Who do I contact?"
Do your homework to find out which system and features are best for you. Look at the price and especially customer service.
A rep from Mapcon Technologies will discuss your needs, answer all of the what, when, where, why, who, and how questions, and offer a free demonstration. 800-922-4336