Six tips for your stores room
Depending on the size of your business, scope of services, number of bases in operation, and available resources, managing an efficient stores room and tracking inventory can be a challenge. Regardless of business size and stock on hand, however, if you are not accurately maintaining proper inventory control, you are negatively impacting the company’s bottom line.
August 30, 2018 By Michael Perrotta
To assist you with better managing your stores room and improving your supply chain management, the following six key tips can save countless work hours, preserve capital and enhance business efficiencies.
1. Location, location, location
To ensure parts within a stores room are easily identified and located during busy times, it is imperative for the location of parts to be clearly defined on the parts label when received. A recommended method to use is a 6-code bin-location system consisting of: Building, Room, Row, Section, Shelf and Box. It is better to use an alpha-based system, as opposed to a numerical one, since the former provides you with more options per character than the latter (26 letters versus 10 numbers). A code like AAAEFC, for example, would describe to a stores clerk that the part is located in Building A, Room A, Row A, Section E, Shelf F and Box C. If all stock is to always be housed in a main building and not at any other base, then this system can be applied using a 4-code structure, by using the titles Row, Section, Shelf and Box.
2. Where did that come from?
Another key element to managing a stores room more effectively is using a batch reference field. This field can be populated as consumable batches get split apart, which makes tracing back to the original Vendor Lot number a simple task. It is critical for an operation to easily ascertain the original vendor, for example, if there is a recall on parts. A recall on defective washers can be a nightmare for a business that does not utilize a batch reference field.
3. We’ve got Issues
Parts should never leave the stores room without a listed job that they were used on, along with corresponding details. The practice of real-time data processing benefits stores room accuracy when issuing parts, but its also extends to other activities like receiving, shipping and returns.
Stores departments can leverage a ‘No Task Card, No Parts’ mentality. A strict policy like this may seem rigid and overbearing, particularly to those technicians who follow their own set of procedures out of habit, but, in reality, one of your highest expenses is carrying stock. So when stock walks out of the room and cannot be traced, you end up with inaccurate counts, causing shortages or overages.
4. Is too much ever enough?
When managing stores rooms it is important that the principles of Min/Max are implemented to guarantee that you have adequate stock levels at all times, without exceeding what is economically feasible. Individual parts can all have a master Min/Max level set, but this can be taken to another level, as software allows for the setting of an economic value. A good system should be able to recommend a reorder quantity without over-purchasing – as defined by the Max level. Min/Max values in any setup should be adhered to as closely as possible. Reporting should be done on a weekly basis to ensure there will always be enough stock on hand.
5. What do we have?
It is not uncommon for operators to perform inventory counts on a biannual or quarterly basis. Regular stock counts ensure a more accurate current inventory. This goes hand-in-hand with the first four principles, as they all lead up to the inventory count.
I recommend that you take inventory one step further and facilitate cyclical stock counts. These types of counts occur all year long, simply by counting a few boxes a day. Quarterly and biannual stock counts are a real distraction to your team and cost to your business, because they take much longer to complete.
6. Is this a fixer upper?
It is critical to conduct consistent reviews of what is in your quarantine area, whether it is a cage or an entire room with its own shelving, and actioning anything required on an ongoing basis (repairs, scrapping parts, sales, etc.). Addressing these issues in a timely fashion can save an organization on costs, not only from AOG situations, but also from having to always purchase parts.
A regular process of review and actioning allows users to always stay on top of the items within the quarantine area. A good system should also tag any items waiting to be actioned.
Michael Perrotta is a subject matter expert at WinAir, an industry leading aviation management software provider.