You Can’t Use What You Can’t Find
That statement is never more valid than when discussing maintenance, repair, and operations components and retail merchandise. Much of the heavy lifting manufacturers and stores ask their inventory management systems to perform involves keeping track of the stock and supplies they have on hand. Stock and inventory location are essential components of warehouse management systems’ ability to manage the supply, storage, cost, and accessibility of materials businesses need in order to maintain productivity and profitability. With thousands of MRO hardware items, spare parts, lubricants, solvents, cleaners, PPE, etc. in inventory and dozens of sizes, colors, and styles for hundreds of consumer goods lining the shelves, it’s no wonder businesses crave more agile and robust inventory management solutions for keeping tabs on their inventory and stock.
Often these include vendor-managed inventory processes and third-party warehouse automation technologies.
Don’t Let This Happen to You
MRO items often are more difficult to track than production inventory because they represent a diverse catalog, are often small and difficult to count, and may be stored at multiple locations within a plant or storeroom. Because of these factors and the fact that they are not part of the finished product, MRO items are often seen as less worthy of active inventory management. This is a mistake, and can lead directly to multiple poor outcomes:
- Stockouts that delay manufacturing, bottleneck orders, and may result in cancellations, lost customers, and damage a company’s reputation for reliability and service.
- Increased picking time which translates to drags on productivity higher costs, supply hoarding, and inaccurate inventory counts.
- Additional costs associated with expedited shipping, off-contract purchasing, overtime, and overhead.
- Suboptimal storage space usage for MRO items that are diverse and have irregular demand patterns making them difficult to organize and store. Imprecise location management wastes valuable stockroom space and increase their chances of becoming damaged or obsolete.
- Uninformed decisions regarding restocking, scheduling, and demand forecasting caused by inaccurate data and poor visibility into the overall supply chain.
Inventory Management to the Rescue
Most MRO inventory management problems can be alleviated by implementing strong stock location procedures. Start by ensuring you’ve allocated enough staff to cover specific storeroom duties without giving anyone so much responsibility that quality suffers. You will need a team large enough to accomplish their tasks on time and without mistakes. Follow these additional proven steps for streamlining stock location and inventory management solutions:
- Consider storeroom design that facilitates access. Options include placing heavy-use items in front or grouping materials that are used in concert next (such as rags, cleaning solutions, and rubber gloves) to each other. It’s best to place heavy items on lower shelves and, of course, you’ll take special care of noxious, flammable, toxic, and caustic materials.
- Build a taxonomy that identifies the exact location of each replacement part and maintenance item. This could be as simple as an alphanumeric string. For instance, 9L03G could indicate identifying the warehouse row 9, rack L, shelf 3 and bin G.
- Establish a process for receiving, moving, storing, and distributing goods in the maintenance storeroom. When shipments arrive, crosscheck quantities and part numbers, inspect for damage, add barcodes or RFIDs to components.
- Automate and customize a computerized maintenance management system like ZEUS to keep a record of MRO inventory items’ locations, movements, and anticipated need.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
These best practices are often easier to implement when partnering with a supply chain-as-a-service provider. With SDI’s cloud-based ZEUS inventory management platform, companies leverage a comprehensive picking, packing, and shipping operations control center. ZEUS provides real-time visibility into inventory levels and locations. It optimizes inventory replenishment, allowing management efforts to be redeployed to more strategic and revenue-generating activities. ZEUS adheres to MRO value chain best practices and amplifies the value of SDI’s vendor-managed inventory management solution.
ZEUS performs a variety of tasks that make life easier for warehouse managers, production supervisors, and strategic planners:
- Centralized inventory database: ZEUS tracks all MRO items, including their location, quantity, and status, and makes the information available in a single repository so you always know when supplies run short and when you can delay ordering.
- Forecasting: ZEUS combines a variety of factors, including historical demand data, seasonal trends, and maintenance schedules, to accurately predict demand for MRO items.
- Reorder thresholds. ZEUS automates the ordering process, considering lead times, safety stock levels, and expected burn rate to place restock orders at the right time and in the proper quantity.
- eProcurement: ZEUS provides a single platform for ordering MRO items from a variety of suppliers, comparing pricing, maintaining contract rates, and finding you the best deals.
Learn how SDI’s inventory management solutions can help you optimize your supply chain and production efficiencies. Call 888-397-5093 or schedule a demonstration today.