Storeroom, tool crib, stockroom – whatever you call it, storerooms are a central part of any manufacturing facility, fulfillment center, or jobsite. The storeroom is the heart of all Operations activity, responsible for stocking and distributing tools, PPE, equipment, and supplies to the entire workforce on a project. The Foundry estimates that inventory accounts for 15% of assets for a public firm in the United States, contributing to a significant line item in the P&L of a business when factoring costs like warehousing space, maintenance and upkeep on parts, and personnel to manage stock.
With this much cost tied to inventory, MRO and Finance Managers need to be sure that storerooms are running at peak efficiency with minimal waste. Inventory Management or Tool Crib Software can help automate many of the once manual processes that can cause storerooms to be wasteful or inefficient. Industry reports value the inventory management software market at $3 billion and rising – so how can you pick the best solution in this massive market?
Below, we break down the top 5 things to look for in your tool crib management software.
Specialization in Manufacturing Tool Cribs
Inventory management in a retail store is much different than inventory management at an aerospace OEM, or a construction jobsite, or any manufacturing environment that manages highly specialized assembly parts and supplies.
Inventory management systems geared towards the Manufacturing industry will have added features, like preventative maintenance modules that will help you manage maintenance requirements, that off-the-shelf solutions used in a variety of industries don’t require.
Options for “Un-Manned” Storerooms
When selecting a tool crib software tool, think carefully about both the current state of your storeroom operations and what your ideal future state would be. Maybe you currently rely on a dedicated team to manage all transactions from the storeroom or tool crib, in which case a simple barcode scanning solution would be useful.
But what if your inventory management system eliminated the need for a dedicated storeroom team? Think about how you may be able to utilize your storeroom personnel in new ways that add more capabilities or value to your Operations. There are storeroom solutions in the market, like the AccuPort, that use RFID to track items going in and out of a secured location, eliminating the need for barcode scanning by a team member. If this is appealing to you, you want to ensure the system you choose has these options before committing.
Despite our best intentions, technology can sometimes run into issues, and we need to find ways to minimize the impact on Operations. Offline capabilities are a critical feature of any storeroom solution in manufacturing that allow you to store inventory data locally during a disruption in connectivity.
Make sure to ask what type of connectivity the barcode scanners or tracking equipment requires and confirm that it works for your environment. Cordless scanners allow storeroom personnel to carry their barcode scanners around the warehouse easily and are a requirement for many. Bonus points if you ask for what type of back-up system, or Offline Mode, is in place when there’s a connectivity issue.
Robust & Easy to Use Reporting
Reports deliver all your inventory data in digestible format to help managers identify trends, opportunities, and issues that need to be addressed. Most inventory management solutions have reporting capability, and you should ask to see an example report from the system to make sure the format, report type and available customizations will work for you.
Ask about Dashboards for an even more visual representation of your data. Dashboards are a highly illustrative, birds-eye level view of the most important data, usually presented with colors and large charts. CM Web is a great example of the type of Dashboards you should look for.
Reliable Technical Support
Anytime you implement a new solution, you should understand what kind of support you can expect from the service provider. Do they offer Technical Support just over the phone, or can you chat, text or email? Will they send someone on-site for the installation or is it all remote? What kind of hours and response time does the Technical Support team promise? Does the Technical Support team work during your normal business hours? What happens in the event of an after-hours issue?
Bonus Tip: Find a Reputable and Stable Brand
Implementing a new inventory management system is a big undertaking, and well-worth the investment. You want to make sure the solution you choose is backed by a reputable and stable brand with longevity. We’ve all heard horror stories of a software company shutting down and leaving their customers with no support. Make sure you choose a company that is there for you for the long haul.
CribMaster has almost 30 years of experience in storeroom solutions and is part of the Industrial division of Fortune 500 industry leaders Stanley Black & Decker, making us a knowledge and reliable partner for your storeroom solutions.