Growing your Efficient Storeroom


From foundational to intermediate: Part II


Last month, we spent time discussing some of the Strategic Practices, those items identified in yellow blocks on our road map:

·         Critical Spares Evaluation

·         ROP/EOQ, MIN-MAX, OOR

·         Problem Solving

·         Open Stock

·         Lighting Survey

For July, we are going to continue discussing the remaining Strategic Practices, those remaining items identified in yellow blocks:

·         Special Tools

·         Safety Items

·         Materials Scrap

·         Disposal of Scrap

·         Salvage Value


Intermediate Effective


Figure 1:  Intermediate-Efficient


The items up for discussion this month really set the tone for the primary purpose of the storeroom: to provide service and convenience.  What better way is there to demonstrate that mantra than to have practices that don’t outwardly suggest MRO spare parts?


I am extremely ‘old school’ in my approach to setting up and running storerooms.  My approach is that nothing will be stocked in the storeroom that is not in direct support of an asset in the plant.  With that mentality, only MRO items that actively appear on an asset’s Bill of Materials should be in the storeroom.


I’m not naïve enough to ever think that other agencies will refrain from requesting secure storage and documented usage of their respective items.  This would include, but certainly isn’t limited to:

·         Hard hats

·         Safety vests

·         Ear protection

·         Special tools (torque wrench, laser alignment tools)

·         Safety harnesses


Additionally, the storeroom may be asked to oversee central programs such as: scrap, salvage, and disposal (i.e. recycling).  This is all part of being on a team.  How a world class storeroom handles these non-MRO duties makes all the difference in effectiveness and efficiency and thus is a part of the Effective and Foundational grid of our roadmap.


Special Tools: The first thought should be to locate special tools in the general maintenance shop.  However, there are tools that are critical to the maintenance mission, and their misplacement, or lack of positive control, could lead technicians to make very poor choices.  Mentioned above, as examples, are a torque wrench and a laser alignment kit.  In the absence of, or inability to locate a torque wrench, the technician may choose to use a 20’ stick of conduit as a cheater bar, or choose not to torque a bolt at all.  An inability to find the alignment kit, or all the pieces to the kit, could lead to equally poor choices.


Special tools need positive control and safeguarding.  They also require routine PM actions such as cleaning, calibrating, lubricating, and even part replacements.


A storeroom operations that is tasked to secure and guard these special tools may look for other means to positively control them outside the confines of the physical storeroom itself.  I’ve seen the successful application of vending lockers used for this very purpose.  A technician gains access to the tool through a badge scanner, which documents the date and time of removal and return.  There is no question as to who put the tool back in the locker in less than ideal condition.


Some maintenance sites have even gone as far as to drill a small hole in the back of the locker and run the cordless battery charger unit wires into the locker for recharging of batteries.  There are many very clever ideas in use  relating to the guarding and distribution of these common and necessary tools.

Typical Locker


Image 1:  Typical locker for special tools


Similar to special tools, and as discussed briefly above, safety items are often requested to be stocked and distributed by a central storeroom.  Safety items lend themselves to a serious discussion about point-of-use locating, and automatic distribution and accountability.  For example; this might apply to ear protection, cut resistant gloves, safety glasses, etc.  These consumables would be ideal candidates for vending machine distribution, and are often seen around various plants, in all types of industry.



Typical Vending Machine


Image 2:  Typical vending machine for safety items


The vending machine, of course, is not suited for other safety items such as safety harnesses, hard hats, etc., and some of those could be located in vending lockers, or as a final location, the storeroom.

Every possible approach to reducing the traffic to and from the storeroom should be used; traffic in-and-out of the physical storeroom should be eliminated.


I’m going to combine materials scrap and disposal of scrap for this segment, as they go hand in hand.


In a previous edition of this blog series, we discussed the Stores Stock Committee.  One of the issues that the SSC solves is the collection of work residue around the facility that has some remaining value : essentially recycling material. 


A Stores Stock Committee should be tasked with determining what types of material will be collected, for example:  cardboard/paper, ferrous and non-ferrous metals.  The SSC should further identify collection points around the site, and (this is very important), who is responsible to keep those collection sites clean and orderly.


Typically, the Purchasing Department will establish the necessary bonds and relationships with vendors who collect the materials, on some schedule, at some agreed upon rate (the recycler pays you).  But, it is often the case that the storeroom runs this practice from an oversight position: making phone calls about service, and establishing additional needs (for projects and such).


In addition to these traditional scrap removal services, it is paramount that there is an ironclad agreement on the disposal and disposition of the material once it leaves the site.  Many companies have had to answer for their XYZ Company scrap floating in the local river.  Dubious scrap dealers take out what they want, and illegally dump the rest.  Don’t let this happen to you.


When MRO items become obsolete, or if project or repair materials that are still serviceable remain after a job, those materials and items still have an inherent value to them.  The salvage value practice is brought to bear in an effort to return as much fiscal value from the component as possible, in lieu of scrapping it.


The typical process for seeking any salvage value follows this route:

·         The supplier will take the item  back (without a fee, or with an acceptable restocking fee)

·         The item can be sold through an equipment broker

·         The item can be sold via the internet

·         The item can be donated to a technical school or college (for tax credits)

·         The item has any scrap value


Again, these are ‘serviceable’ components; scrapping should be a last ditch thought.


Keep in mind, if the item is to be sold or donated, that there might be a need to involve your organization’s legal services to ensure your company has no liability against injury.


Next month we will begin the discussion on the Tactical Processes that enhance the efficiency of the storeroom.


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