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The Maintenance Management Blog

June 01, 2023

Up For The Count

Image: shelves of inventory

Your home workshop is organized. A place for everything and everything in its place. Drawers, shelves, and cabinets have all been stocked systematically.

So, what's the problem? You're not doing an important task for the continuation of a well-run workshop. If you don't take care of this particular procedure every so often, you're risking problems down the road. One of these problems is not having the correct number of needed parts or discovering you don't have the part in stock at all.

Solution? Be up for the count. Every so often, make a physical count of your inventory.

"Blech! That takes too much time. Let me watch the ballgame."

Yes, it can take time, but it's time well spent. A physical count at home shouldn't take too long. The same can't be said for the workplace stockroom, especially if you're in a larger company with a lot of inventory. However, it's no less important to spend the time having employees or taking personal responsibility by counting the number of parts/supplies/tools. You don't want an emergency repair to come up and have a needed part not in stock. Oh, sure, MAPCON tracks your inventory quantities but, hey, we're humans and humans make mistakes. Someone took or replaced a part and forgot to report it, an incorrect quantity was input into the system, or any number of errors.

However, MAPCON helps you with your physical count in four easy-to-follow steps.

Inventory>Physical Count Menu (seven down from the top)

Step 1 – Manage Inventory Cycle

The great thing about creating cycles is they'll be in the Lookup tab ready for present and future counts.

Create Cycle tab – What, where, and how many items you want to count is up to you. The size of the company, number of items, and time all weigh in on how you create your cycles.

The Cycle data field is required. The name or code you input can indicate the type of count. It could be a shortened description This will be further clarified by the Stockroom field.

For instance, here are two examples: Cycle = C-A and Stockroom = Central. Or, Cycle = M-All and Stockroom = Mezz

In the first example, C stands for Central as indicated by the Stockroom, and A stands for the inventory classification that will be counted. This classification will be explained later.

In the second example, M is for Mezzanine, and 'All' indicates everything is to be counted. ("Yes, Bob, 'all' means the bins of split lock washers.")

The Cycle # might include the shelf number/letter designation, in which case, using the first example, A is the Shelf to be counted within the Central stockroom.”

The next important area for the count is the Filtering Options. This has the final red field – Maximum number of items per cycle count sheet section. Let's be nice to Bob and not give him 1000 items to count per sheet.

For example, set the Maximum number of items to 50. The system will create multiple sections for the designated area, as many as needed to include all of those parts (if there are 500 parts, you will get 10 sections with 50 items each). Potentially different people can count different sections at the same time.

Maybe you need to count items within a certain price range. Price Filters can be All, Value Greater Than, or Less Than with the value in the Filter Price field.

Three checkboxes for more specific items:

Include items not assigned to a location. Be careful with this one, if they do not have a location, they could be anywhere. It could take more time to find them, so we suggest making a separate count sheet just for those, separate from all the other sections that are lined up neat and orderly by Aisle-Shelf-Bin.

Include items that are NOT seeded – This is a great way to provide a quantity.

Include Not-Valued Items ("Yes, Bob, I want every Sharpie and Number 2 pencil counted.")

Some companies have consignment items. Do you want only these counted, excluded from, or included in the count?

You can designate what class(es) of inventory to be counted. The small box in this section labeled Classes is for those classifications I mentioned earlier. Class A are fast-moving parts, B parts are used less frequently, and C parts are rarely used, so they don’t need to be counted as often.

Do you have Categories of inventory? This section lets you assign one or more of those.

On the right side, you can specify Location where the counts take place. ("Yes, Bob, the sixth floor. Sorry, the elevator is broken. It's scheduled for repair after the count.")

The other option is to count specific items and there's a checkbox to only include specific items on count sheets.

Don’t be afraid to create several different Cycles to cover all the possible scenarios.

After entering all the desired information, save the record and you're ready. Then, click the Generate Cycle Count Sheets Now button.

Image: inventory count sheet

Step 2 – Print Count Sheets

Pretty self-explanatory. This has plenty of filters to bring up the specific count sheets needed. Print, distribute, and let's get Bob to counting.

The other option is to save paper and conduct the count with the mobile app on a tablet or smartphone.

Step 3 – Enter Count Quantities

Bob turned in his count sheets. Double-click on the cycle in the Lookup tab to view the inventory information that MAPCON has. You'll see at the top, the generated date and the date this cycle was last updated.

In the Items to Count section, you'll see the column headers of Stock# and Description. Then the Location breakdowns for each item, depending on how you laid out your stockroom

Pay attention to the next two windows. The last column is the quantity MAPCON says is correct. The blue data field is Quantity On Hand (QOH). This is for the numbers Bob wrote on the count sheet.

Wait! Before you start filling in field after field with the count sheet numbers, compare the totals to MAPCON's Curr QOH. Do they match? Maybe a few differences? Instead of manually typing in all those numbers, click on the Copy Qty On Hand button.

Voila! The QOH column is filled. Now, you can manually change anything that is different on the count sheets.

Note: You must enter a number. If you don't, you'll receive an automated call from Mapcon chiding you with the message, "You can't do that."

Seriously, the system won't accept a blank field. If you don't have a certain item, input a zero.

Step 4 – Reconcile Counted Items

Again, the Lookup tab shows the list of cycles. Double-click one to bring up the Main tab. You'll see the Count Sheets window listing your count sheets. Before you go any further, let's make sure everything is really the way you want it.

Suggestion 1: As you're entering the quantities in the last step, you noticed a discrepancy you know or suspect is wrong. MAPCON said there are ten items, Bob came back with three, but you know there are ten. This is a good time to make a personal check. Perhaps Bob miscounted or missed the seven items in another bin.

Suggestion 2: Even if you do the above, make a double-check in this step. Click on Run a Pre-Reconciliation Report. Study it for differing totals. If you're happy, let MAPCON give you another chance to help. Click the Stop For Discrepancy checkbox, just in case you missed something. Remember, we humans are fallible creatures, and even the most meticulous of us miss a number or two (or was that twenty?).

In the Count Sheets window, click the box for Ready to Reconcile and Reconcile Now if you're ready to do this! Click Reconcile Checked Items. The system will ask if you've run a pre-reconciliation report. Then it will let you know that the reconciliation will begin…are you sure you're ready?

Sometimes, I experience frustration when I'm running a program that gives me repetitive warnings asking me if I'm sure I want to do the next step. "Get on with it!" I mutter.

If you have the same feelings regarding MAPCON's reconciliation messages, think about why it's asking you to be sure you want to proceed.

These totals will now become the official numbers MAPCON uses to track quantities. Sure, you can perform an inventory adjustment later, but this is for a big swatch of inventory. The quantities affect future issues and returns and if you've set certain parameters, the system generates purchase requisitions based on those quantities. Think of these messages as MAPCON keeping you in control of inventory. It's there to make sure you are sure of what you want to do

After it completes the process, MAPCON asks if you want to run a final reconciliation report showing you what's been done. Print or export the report to another type of file for your records.

You also can run reports from Cycle Reconciliation Reports. Other reports in this menu include Item Accuracy and Last Count Age.

MAPCON allows you to be in control, so it is suggested that you have a notification procedure when the physical count begins. Even though you start the process by Generating Count Sheets, MAPCON still allows changes in inventory quantities. For example, if the count sheet shows five of Part X and two minutes later, Bob takes one, the system now sees four. Yes, this will be worked out during reconciliation or after a second physical check, but keep the problems minimal by letting everyone know when a count will occur. Post signs. Set up barricades. String police tape across aisle entrances. Set up motion sensors with a blaring alarm if anyone enters the aisle. Whatever works for you so that no one interrupts the count. ("Bob tripped the snare trap again. He's hanging by one ankle.")

An inventory physical count takes time, but it's an important part of inventory management and control. Don't neglect this task. MAPCON assists you with logical steps. For questions on physical counts or any other MAPCON feature, 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, maintenance, physical count — Stephen Brayton on June 01, 2023