Monday, July 21, 2008

Time out for better inventory control.

I know I'm obsessing about parts, but I want to track them better. So, I now I am using parts drawers and a labeler to go along with the database. Now every time I check a small part, it goes into it's own clear plastic drawer with a label. Large parts still go in the big toolbox. I've found that checking in parts slows things down, especially since I need to make the database agree with the receipt from the store (which isn't always clear) and finally the label on the drawer. However, it hopefully will save quite a bit of time later when I can just grab a part rather than make a special trip to the store just for being one part short.

This system also provides a method of keeping track of substitutions where used and difficulties getting parts (eg, Perhaps a store carries it, but they are out of stock and a substitute may be available from an alternate supplier). Many of the substitutions are for more robust versions of a part (eg using #12 instead of #16 wire). Others may have bigger consequences (eg. The somewhat experimental galvanizing treatment I'm using). For each part, the database notes where it was used, how many ordered, unit cost, unit packaging (eg. 6pack, box of 20), sales tax, shipping paid, steps the material or tool is used in and if it's a substitute from the original specification. Later, I'll be editing the database as I find a trade off between the expense of collecting info for each field and the cost or time saved by having it.

Entering the remaining small parts plus labeling took about 16 hours (over two full days) to represent them correctly in the database as well as being categorized so I can pull them quickly. Blogging took about 2 hours. Naturally, when I get faster at knowing what parts look like, this time will go down. I'm sure at the end of the project, I'll find some efficiencies. Time will tell if these efficiencies are worth the effort to get them. (it may not be - in the case of small nuts, it's less expensive to just buy a quantity that is known to be more than enough) I might be short a bolt or two but it looks like most pieces and tools except for the Optima Blue Top batteries are now on site!

Further parts should come to about $500. I think a blanket $500 statement should be more than enough to account for materials I may have forgotten and parts I may already have in my shop - which I'm also tracking.

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