Managing Electrical Inventory
Some of us tend to put quite a lot of forethought into stocking up on necessities in our homes and offices. Items such as toilet paper, bottled water, trash bags, and things that might normally be overlooked in the grand scheme of things. They don’t weigh as heavily on our minds as other items that we perceive to use more often such as coffee, makeup, and … wait, am I out of coffee?
The point is, some people have the tendency to wait until the last minute to replenish what they use. And when that happens, it is easy to make the decision to buy too much of an item. Consider if you purchased an underground bunker’s worth of toilet paper because you ran out once. Storage is a valuable resource that we don’t often consider. If stock space is taken up by an unneeded item, you are essentially wasting money. We need to start being smarter about our storage use and not only stock what we use daily, but what we would actually need in an emergency.
Let’s change focus now to electrical maintenance, because we’re not really talking about toilet paper. My goal is to impress the importance of keeping your facility’s inventory up to date when it comes to your electrical system. You’ll likely have plenty of lightbulbs in stock, but those are more or less on the cosmetic end of the spectrum. I want you to consider the nuts and bolts of the operation. Literally the nuts and bolts. When you consider some of the smaller items needed in your inventory such as wire, housings, connectors, conduit, fuses, and even spare breakers, you’ll find that there may be some items stocked that are specifically for that one “odd” piece of equipment that still works but is different from everything else in the facility. This can become an inventory management problem. Is it cost effective to store parts for something different, that could be made the same as other operation equipment? Naturally there is a cost with replacing or upgrading equipment, but have you ever factored your inventory into these decisions?
Here are some points that I have found helpful in determining what I need to stock and have readily available to my teams:
1. Cost Savings: When it comes to getting the best deal on something you will use frequently, shopping around ahead of time to find a reasonable cost is second nature. And typically, the more you buy, the cheaper the overall cost per unit. But have you ever tried to get just one or two items after hours? Or been in desperate need of the one item that just isn’t on the shelf? The cost for these infrequently used items can be quite a bit higher, and when the demand for them is great, the price seems that much more irritating. However, keeping a wide variety of items in your warehouse is not always easy if you don’t have a solid inventory management system. Decide what you need, how much you need, and when you need it ahead of time to avoid unnecessary charges.
2. Minimize Down Time: When you lose power, or equipment goes down, having the right parts on hand will greatly minimize your operational down time. Consider the last time a breaker tripped and couldn’t be reset or when a fuse blew, and you did not have a replacement on hand. For some, this might be something that happens all the time, but for others it may have only needed to happen once in order to realize that having a spare on site isn’t such a bad idea.
3. Controlled Quality: If your building is more than 15 years old, a lot of the electrical components could be obsolete and therefore not available new. It could take time to stock up on refurbished and tested components, and even longer to find one when the need is immediate. Keeping your older equipment in mind when purchasing parts is a smart way to ensure that they stay reliable and that they are able to be serviced when the need arises. Also, knowing that your parts are tested and certified ahead of time will ensure that you are replacing a failed component with one that will work once you have finished your maintenance.
Do not skimp on electrical components and replacement parts for your facility. It is far easier and cost effective to think ahead, than to react to a failure and not have something on hand when it is needed.