Lab Management Error #1 – Ordering Too Much Inventory for Your Needs

 

There are perks to being in the right place at the right time. If your money is in the right place at the right time, then you’ll be able to buy lunch and pay your mortgage. If you are in the right place at the right time, you might find your dream romance.

If the right chemicals are in the right place at the right time, then the research personnel is happy and the whole enterprise benefits from the inventory efficiency. This is not as easy as it sounds, and there are many challenges to setting up an efficient chemical inventory system. In large and complex organizations, this is even more critical.

Inventory control is an important part of every business from the latest hip salons to the big box stores to the tech companies, and it’s extra important in labs with hazardous materials. This is the first post in a series about the top eight chemical management errors.

Earlier this year, Lab Manager Magazine hosted a best practices chemical inventory webinar for lab managers and EH&S professionals. The presenter, our very own Jon Webb from ChemSW, talked us through the common errors in lab management and solutions to save the lab precious resources. Here is #1 – ordering too much inventory for your needs.

 

Too Much of a Good Thing Is a Bad Thing

The first common error in chemical inventory management is over-ordering chemicals. Why does this happen? This is often a result of not know what materials are on-site, or at least not knowing where they are. This is bigger problem than it seems. When many people use materials, a paper spreadsheet may not be updated or materials may be misplaced. With the old paper spreadsheet system, there is no real-time list, and when people can’t find what they are looking for, they reorder. And reorder and reorder.

 

Excess materials mean waste, especially when we consider that the missing chemicals may expire before they are found. In the ChemSW webinar, Jon Webb tells us about his tours in various facilities. In one story, he was speaking with a lab manager, and she lamented the tragedy of sending unopened containers to chemical waste. She said, once we find this stuff, it’s no good. And the tragedy doesn’t stop there…

 

Where Did The All the Money Go?

When researchers are suddenly out of a chemical, especially in an awesome R&D lab, it may be so time sensitive that they put a rush order on it. If this happens over and over because of problems in the inventory system, those rush order fees can add up.

Other operating costs include extra storage space that is taken up by the excess chemicals and oh no! being out of fire code compliance since the container locations are unknown and not documented. This is dangerous and could be costly in the event of an audit. In a real accident, the facility will be responsible for costs if it is found that the inventory was out of compliance. That hurts in more ways than one. The emergency responders, community members and your own researchers depend on good safety compliance for their very lives!

Can you imagine if your department was suffering from budget cuts while inventory costs were more than they had to be? This is a problem that could potentially affect the whole organization! It’s time for a change!

 

More Time and Money for Research

With a best practice chemical inventory system, lab managers will know what chemicals are on site, where they are, how they are stored, who uses them, and how much will be needed soon. If that seems too good to be true, think again. For example, ChemSW has a software solution that can create inventory harmony in any lab facility. It’s based around bar code technology, and it provides a real-time inventory list that helps everyone in the lab. So make sure your lab isn’t over-ordering chemicals and come check out our site if you’d like a little inventory support.

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