Power to the people: Inventory Management

Jon Lawson

How proper inventory management can improve operations for those working in the power gen industry

Power generation is a heavily regulated and highly competitive market. Most power gen companies are under great pressure to improve their efficiencies and safety standards, demonstrate innovation and reduce costs. With an emphasis on large and expensive equipment, small tools and consumables that are found in much larger quantities are often forgotten. In the power industry, small tools and consumables have big role to play but most of the time, they are used carelessly, lost, stolen or misplaced.

Improper management of tools and plant upkeep supplies can lead to dramatic consequences for production: rocketing costs, safety incidents, damaged reputation and losses in productivity and profitability. According to industry experts, companies actively implementing new technologies and asset management processes are 26% more profitable than their competitors.

Too many power companies reportedly underestimate the importance of 24/7 availability of consumables or timely tool calibration of items such as jackhammers, multimeters, drills and many others that keep the valuable machines running smoothly. Whether it is preventive maintenance tasks performed on regular basis or emergency repairs, it is crucial to ensure that personal protective equipment, inserts, rivet, screws, cutting and power tools, and other MRO items are always at hand to do the repairs properly and fix all critical assets in an accident-free environment. Reducing walk time leads to greater productivity.

It can, however be very hard to accurately forecast the use of such consumables items. Orders based on rough approximation can result in up to 50% inactive stock, including low-turning products and obsolete items. Carrying excess inventory can add as much as 25% to its initial cost.

It is very common nowadays to have a software for managing the inventory and tools. But there is a missing link since the software cannot hand out the materials to the workers - it is still done either manually, which leads to a large downtime in production and idle time, or through an unattended and uncontrolled storage unit, which can lead to rocketing costs. It’s estimated that one minute of production downtime due to a lost or misplaced tool or unavailability of a consumable item can cost tens of thousands of Euros!

This is where Stanley CribMaster can improve inventory management by offering both software and hardware that fully automates the process of controlled inventory dispensing, stock re-orders and replenishment, tool calibration scheduling, tracking and locating consumables and tools.

ProStock is a simple but smart carousel and locker type machine. Not only can users have full visibility and control of their consumables and tools in real-time, they can also reduce inventory spending by 25-45% in the first year, but most importantly, provide their workers with 24/7 controlled access to materials right where they need them.

Any time workers access the machine, they are required to identify themselves in the system, which then records and keeps accurate counts of item flow. When the stocks reach their pre-determined minimum, the system automatically places an order with the preferred supplier. Thanks to customisable settings users can limit the access by worker, by product type, by quantity and run their plant in a safer, smarter and more efficient way. In addition, managers automatically receive scheduled overstock, understock and dead stock reports, upcoming tool calibration alerts, and can track their consumable spending by employee, job or time period for accounting and budgetary analysis to have a reliable intelligence that enables more informed purchasing decisions.

The pie-shaped sections of the carousels in the ProStock allow facilities to accurately manage the distribution of hundreds of items to their workforce. The ProStock, with its high-capacity storage capability but small footprint, powered by CribMaster software, can improve workflow in any plant.

The original ProStock comes as standard with 10 carousels vending up to 560 items. With the new ProStock mini users have the ability mix and match carousels and lockers to dispense up to 280 items at the point of use. Each self-calibrating carousel is configurable for custom section dimensions and can function as a main or auxiliary unit.

For more information visit cribmaster

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