Two Technologies...Double the Benefits

Software has existed to track the processes and replenishment of inventory items for over ten years and storage and delivery solutions have been around in the manufacturing workplace even longer, but not until recently have they met each other with open arms. ShelfPlus, headquartered in Lexington, KY, successfully married these technologies.

Tom Jameson, President of ShelfPlus, clearly states, "When we first realized the potential of combining such technologies, I had a hard time sleeping. I knew that putting these two proven systems together would provide so many benefits and cost savings that manufacturers would easily see the potential."

Since 1977, ShelfPlus has offered professional assistance with planning and implementing manufacturing storage solutions.

After a great deal of search and evaluation for a powerful software application to be the driving force behind CompCrib, ShelfPlus was able to make a clear decision on CribMaster software to drive their system. CribMaster is an inventory management software designed for managing production inventory in any type of manufacturing facility.

This new relationship between proven hardware and software has produced some exciting offspring. The world of manufacturing has witnessed the recent births of Accountability, Automation, Auto-Replenishment, Usage Reporting, Tool Management, Reduced Floor-Space and Re-Focused Labor.

According to Garry Ash at Regal Industries, the original deciding factor to purchase the CompuCrib system was originally driven by their client. Regal Industries is an integrator that serves its customers on-site with several employees dedicated to making sure inventory is handled properly. Regal Industries is a supplier of MRO and tooling items and are responsible for making sure stock is available when needed.

"We were actually totally against storage systems but through the sales process our opinions were totally changed", states Ash, "we have reduced the man-power needed to manage a customer onsite from 5 full time employees to three. We re-focused those employees and saved on management cost associated with keeping them running smooth."

The number one challenge to overcoming shop floor inventory management challenges is getting participants to change or adjust certain processes to improve the overall inventory management. Almost everyone knows how to start solving the challenge, but not many know how to begin getting everyone on board to do their part. With such a system, employees don't wait for crib personnel to locate and retrieve parts they need. Instead, they gain instant access to needed parts through password security, and are back on the job - with the parts they need in minutes. Without identification and following proper procedures, employees cannot retrieve their items and by following these processes items are retrieved much faster than at a standard crib or storeroom. It's faster and more efficient for the end-user so they are typically glad to adhere to the new processes.

CompuCrib requires the employees to log in to the system, identifying the item or items they are retrieving. These retrieval transactions ensure parts are reduced from inventory and automated replenishment ensures stock-outs are eliminated. CompuCrib also has a complete purchasing module that handles item replenishment from multiple sources, forecasts how many items to reorder and when, calculates item usage, lead times, order points and quantities and then prompts timely purchase agent orders. Authorized vendors can access the system and manage their inventories while locking them out of other inventory records. Authorized plant personnel have direct access to the parts they need via password security 24 hours a day. After entering the authorized password, authorized employees enter the part number, the quantity needed and cost centers associated with its usage. Parts are automatically retrieved and delivered through a safe, convenient access window. For added security, the take or return transaction can be captured on video and time stamped to match the transaction in the software. This eliminates any questions as to what happened to inventory.

Plants having a tough time managing inventory should take a look at the technology available to assist in the challenges of tool and MRO inventory. Thinking outside the box has allowed this type of technology to be brought together and provide benefits to both the end-users and distributors.