There are many theories and a lot of good practices relating to storeroom management and more specifically, inventory management. We have written about many of these practices in this space. You can read about more about these best practices areas at the following links:
Electrical storeroom assessments, what happens next
Critical spares, is your storeroom ready to serve?
What’s hiding in your electrical storeroom?
Conduct a self evaluation of your electrical storeroom
Enhancements to VMI offer big benefits
This post will cover where to get started optimizing your storeroom inventory. As noted, there are many theories out there. A popular and proven one is the so-called ABC method of inventory counting. The task of starting can be daunting especially if you are faced with a lot obsolete inventory, or you simply don’t know what you have in inventory. Our practice in this area – proven out at a number of customer locations – is to start with inventory that meets a couple of key criteria.
- High use items such as fuses, sensors where appropriate, and lighting.
- Item is essential to the continued operation and usually the safety of the plant.
Consider a fuse analysis
One of our best practices is to perform a fuse analysis. That’s right, fuses. You might wonder why start with fuses and the answer is simple. Fuses tend to be high use use items that are essential to continued operation and facility safety. This approach is relatively straightforward, but it has some important elements that we’ll discuss in detail.
To start, let’s take a quick look at a well-organized fuse storage area in the storeroom, one that we have cleaned up and optimized with the right inventory, in the right place at the right time. Note the bin labels, the compact arrangement of inventory. (Charts on the cabinet doors at right have conversion tables for quick crossover to the standardized fuse). We thought this through carefully before implementation. We looked at what the customer had on the shelf and what was actually in use.
We approach fuse consolidation from the perspective of –
- Upgrading fuse ratings to mitigate the impact of arc flash incidents
- Consolidating part numbers so fewer fuse part numbers serve more applications
- Improving overall PPE ratings
Our goal is to upgrade to the highest possible protection now so that customers have better protection for a longer period of time. For example, we will recommend upgrading from RK5 to an RK1 fuses. While both are Class R, the RK1 offers significantly higher current limiting capacity than the RK5. This approach offers the best possible upgrade for a minimal price difference.
EC&M wrote an excellent overview of fuse class ratings a few years ago, in case you need a refresher.
We also encourage, where possible, that a customer choose one brand of fuses. This minimizes confusion in the storeroom while offering the best use of inventory dollars.
Benefits of lighting standardization
A great deal has been written lately about lighting conversion, specifically from HID or incandescent to LEDs. And while there are great advantages to LED migration, the other approach is standardizing on one brand of lighting. Reality is that many plants have a mix of incandescent, fluorescent, HID and even LED lighting,
To start, we will suggest that the customer migrate T12s to T8s. Conversion kits are available. This is a timely decision as T12s begin to be phased out. Where it makes sense we want to migrate from HIDs because of the savings. And finally, standardize on one brand to get the best possible combination of reduced part numbers and cost savings. We accomplish this with Philips lighting and Advance transformers. There are, of course, other lines offering the above advantages.
For some customers, sensing counts
Any customer who has a large number of sensors in use will benefit from a sensor review. In one instance, we reviewed the sensors on a single large machine and found more than 35 sensors from 19 different manufacturers. With the help of plant operations, we were able to reduce that confusing mass of sensing down to just four sensors from one manufacturer. You read that right, four sensors from one manufacturer.
The customer benefit is standardization. This approach reduces downtime because electrical techs spend less time looking for the part and with fewer sensors to learn, less time setting up and configuring the sensor. There is also greater confidence that it’s in stock, eliminating the question ‘do we have it’?
A final benefit that purchasing management will appreciate is that reduction of inventory may means returns and credits on account. And who doesn’t like that idea?
Storeroom management through standardization can pay big dividends when you focus on the right path to optimizing your storeroom inventory.