Stocking commonly used components in the lab

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by RG23, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. RG23

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 6, 2010
    301
    2
    Hello ppl,

    I have been assigned a task to cut down frequency of ordering components by stocking commonly used components in lab.

    Sub tasks are:
    1)Identify all common components needed by end of this year

    2)Create a procedure to highlight, refill components running low

    3)Stock the components storage area with common components

    Excel will be too messy as the components are quite many.
    Does anyone have a better approach to this?
    Please share your ideas.

    Thanks
     
  2. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,140
    3,054
    Don't underestimate Excel. It's what I would use, and I've handled far more complex problems than this one. You need to learn about pivot tables. If you've never used them, take a class or find someone to get you started. It's a little daunting at first. Excel's data filtering tools are also a big aid worth learning.

    Your problem is a standard inventory management problem. These have been solved! Inventory management routines are considered part of a field called "management science" and you'll find textbooks on the topic.

    The basic idea is to define the probability and cost of a stockout (running out of a part) and weigh that against the cost of holding stock.

    But don't waste time re-inveting the wheel. Stand on the shoulders of giants. Look up the textbook solutions and adopt them to your project.
     
  3. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    1,425
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    Often a simple min/max system with quantities based on usage history and re-order lead times is best. If parts are not being issued, just taken as needed, perhaps a Kanban system would work.

    Having good awareness of upcoming changes in need is crucial to inventory planning. For example, if it's a school lab, changes in curriculum or student numbers will drive changes in lab stock; in industry, product changes or development initiatives will. Make sure you are "in the loop" to know about such changes as early as possible.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  4. bwilliams60

    Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
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    89
    I'm with wayneh on Excel. If used properly and coupled with Microsoft Access, it is one of the most powerful tools out there. The trick is you want to turn your inventory roughly four times a year minimum. Otherwise you are holding dead stock. To start, you are going to have to go back to invoices and parts orders andd see what you use the most of and set up for those parts. Going forward, get your hands on some good software related to your business that has inventory tracking and then set it up properly. Spend money and time to do it right the first time. It will be well worth the effort.
     
  5. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    2,375
    998
    I used Excel for keeping parts inventory when I was working as electrical lead on a defense project. It works beautifully. You can automate many tasks using Excel's VBA interface. If you want more horsepower, use Access.
     
  6. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    4,302
    1,988
    I wonder if any electronics distributors offer a bin service, like Fastenal does for bolts. Fastenal will bri g you a bin rack with bins of whatever you want; you purchase it outright and then they come by once a month or quarter, count your bolts, nuts, washers, etc, replenish your stock, and then send you an invoice. They're much more efficient at counting the widgets than you would likely be, because they have an awesome system with barcodes and weights per unit; they just scan the bin, put it on a scale, and fill it to the desired quantity.

    I've also seen places like MSC and Applied Industrial do similar things. I've been in machine shops before that had MSC vending machines all over the place, with drill bits, taps, carbide inserts, etc inside. You have to punch in your employee ID or swipe an ID card or something to get something out of it. They track who is using up all the bits and complain at you for using too many.
     
  7. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
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    Your advice is astute but you're assuming a consistent use scenario such as a school lab. If I used the four turns rule for the R & D lab I stock, I'd have to eliminate 90% of the items, including many very basic components such as resistors and fasteners. My users are fickle engineers but I'm good at anticipating their needs. Today, one of them used a few surface mount resistors that probably had been sitting untouched for at least two years. In a previous job, I supplied parts for maintenance and repair in a production environment so usage was consistent enough, order lead times were known and these statistics were used with other factors to drive planning.
     
  8. bwilliams60

    Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
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    You are correct although OP never told us too much about their business. Mine is based on production. If they have the cash to let money sit on a shelf, not sure then why anybody would need a spreadsheet program of any sort. You order what they need and a few extras, make sure they all get paid for and then maybe stock the free parts with an Excel program. Lots of different ways. Trick is to make sure it isn't costing you anything to store parts. Lots of wasted cash sits on shelves.
     
  9. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
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    Production doesn't use lab stock; it uses raw material inventory.
     
  10. bwilliams60

    Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
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    89
    Thank you for the clarification.
     
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