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A Strategic Approach to Inventory Control

Grainger Editorial Staff

We know the one question that can influence most business decisions—what is the cost? Even in the most lucrative economies, cost is the driving factor behind all the best decisions you make for your business. Minimizing cost boosts your company’s ability to enhance production and gain that competitive edge.

When evaluating a company’s cost margin, one typically first looks at things like the price of materials, production and labor. You may start to evaluate operating expenses, such as utilities and maintenance fees. You will look at use and you will look for possible waste.

One area often overlooked in the quest for cost savings is Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) inventories

What is MRO inventory? These are the various supplies and activities that keep your business up and running. These could be as simple as that closet stock of light bulbs and printer paper. Or, it could be items more complex and specialized. Do you keep replacement machine parts on hand? Back-up generators? Those are all part of MRO inventory.

The Cost of MRO Items

We don’t have to ask why you keep certain items on hand. Even in your home, there are a bunch of items you need within an arm’s reach and a moment’s notice. Running out of any given item could slow or even stop production, and sending employees off site to purchase emergency products is both costly and time consuming. That’s why you need to be sure that you have everything you need at the time that you need it, that is, to have the right product, in the right place, at the right time.

But most companies are completely unaware of how much their MRO is really costing them. Depending on the size of the facility, an organization could have thousands or even millions of dollars tied up in MRO supplies and parts. Stock items are often inaccurately tracked, stored haphazardly, and their use is poorly monitored.

How, then, can you strike that balance between having all that you need on hand when you need it, and making the most cost-effective choices possible? How do you find out what your inventory control is really costing you? And how can you make the most informed decisions about what you really need on hand, and in what

Strategic Inventory Management

Approaches to building an effective inventory management strategy differ widely depending on the size and nature of the business, as well as its inventory requirements and challenges. Fortunately, Grainger offers several creative ways to manage inventory that offer flexibility and cost control. All of our solutions can be boiled down into three categories: Customer-Managed Inventory (CMI), Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) and Vending, or allocation via Localized Secured Cabinetry.

Customer-Managed Inventory

Customer-Managed Inventory (CMI) systems are well-suited for facilities desiring a relatively simple program and self-managed tools. The Grainger approach involves the use of barcoding and handheld scanners to track your inventory. Via our KeepStock Track® program, you will be alerted to low and out-of-stock inventory items. With just the click of a button you can identify inventory usage and trends, while accessing quantifiable asset valuation for your physical on-hand inventory.

Grainger-Management Inventory

Grainger-Managed Inventory (GMI) is often the most cost-effective option for organizations with larger, more diverse inventories. The Grainger-Managed Inventory solution provides valuable inventory management services right inside your facility—helping you save time and money. Via this method, a Grainger Inventory Management Specialist administers all of your inventory needs at your own location: replenishment, tracking, ordering, stocking and more.

Vending Machines or Localized Secured Cabinetry

If your company requires controlled access to inventory, a localized secured cabinet (vending machine) could be a good option for you. Are you interested in having point-of-use inventory access, so employees spend less time in the storeroom searching for goods? Would you like to track what you have right now, who used which items, and control product distribution? Do you need easy, unattended secure access? These are the needs that are best met with the KeepStock Secure® vending machine solution. Employees simply swipe a card and choose the item they need. Inventory is tracked so that you not only know what you have, but where it’s going.

A Solution Right for You

The key to successful inventory control is to partner with a reliable MRO supplier who’s willing to take the time to evaluate your business model and understand your inventory needs. The Grainger KeepStock® Inventory Management Solutions offers a range of flexible solution options that address your most critical challenges and concerns. With inventory control that is created to meet your specific needs, Grainger can get your facility operating at its maximum level, for your minimum cost.

Grainger KeepStock® solutions are subject to customer eligibility and agreements.

© 2016 W.W. Grainger, Inc. 16-Content-057

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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