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Inventory Management

  • Award-Winning Responsiveness

    • Elizabeth Rennie

    Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals is a global specialty pharmaceutical company dedicated to managing complexity and improving lives. The company operates in two segments — specialty generics and specialty brands — offering a comprehensive portfolio of specialty generic controlled substances for pain management, substance abuse and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, as well as a broad line of active pharmaceutical ingredients.......Read More

  • The Art and Science of Supply Chain Collaboration

    • Michael Morand

    The health care landscape is rapidly evolving, and more pressure is placed on hospitals and health systems to reduce costs, improve outcomes and increase patient satisfaction. The following real-world account demonstrates the benefits that can be realized when partners work together.......Read More

  • Asking the Right Business Questions

    • Dave Turbide
    September/October 2017

    Several years ago, I visited a manufacturing company that was just putting the finishing touches on an impressive, highly automated warehouse. Meanwhile, another area of the company was involved in a lean manufacturing initiative that promised to greatly reduce the amount of inventory that the company would have on hand at any given time. Of course, after successful completion of the lean project, it was quite likely that this expensive, new warehouse would not really be needed. ......Read More

  • Control Unruly Parts Lists with Kitting

    • Randall Schaefer
    September/October 2017

    I once had a long-term consulting assignment with a manufacturer of large-vehicle chassis. The chassis were sold to motor-home manufacturers that would add the bodies and interior accessories. Each chassis consisted of the frame, engine, axle, transmission, brakes, electricals and anything else necessary for safe and legal driving.......Read More

  • Optimize Inventory Levels with a Replenishment Mindset

    • Dave Turbide
    July/August 2017

    To many companies, inventory reduction is always a desirable objective. Inventory ties up cash, takes up space, tends to deteriorate and sometimes becomes worthless. It must be stored, protected, managed and counted. And there’s always too much of it — or so it would seem.......Read More

  • Cycle Counting Is Not a Guessing Game

    • Randall Schaefer
    May/June 2017

    Throughout the years, I have seen countless companies doing what they call “cycle counting,” which, in reality, is no such thing. These situations often result from managers who are unwilling to invest in a true cycle counting program. They seem to understand the cost of cycle counting but fail to appreciate the value of accurate inventory records. The subsequent poseur systems these managers create are so concerned with limiting costs that, when errors are ultimately uncovered, no money is allocated to address the root causes.......Read More

  • Hiring Advice You Can Take to the Bank

    • Randall Schaefer
    March/April 2017

    Years of consulting have taught me that the most perilous time for a small company is when it has grown to a point where it can no longer be managed informally. The founder of the business realizes that it is impossible to keep up with everything without some kind of help but has qualms about suddenly having to share decision-making responsibility.......Read More

  • Managing a Rising Tide of SKUs

    • Jonathan Thatcher
    March/April 2017

    SKUs seem to drench today’s supply chains with numerical complexity. In anecdotal research about SKU growth, one professional told me, “Almost half of our current SKUs did not exist 36 months ago.” This situation points to a few possible scenarios.......Read More

  • Wise Managers Keep Teams on the Right Turf

    • Randall Schaefer
    January/February 2017

    Sometimes very successful managers grow to believe that they are invincible. Such was the case with the new general manager of food producer ABC Company. At ABC Company, products had to stay frozen until people were ready to consume them. But the business had a small freezer that could only hold a few hours' worth of production. The good news was that the firm enjoyed a long-standing relationship with XYZ Company, which would haul away food production every few hours and distribute it via a network of refrigerated trucks and warehouses. For many years, this resulted in mutual profitably.......Read More

  • 10 Retail Replenishment Musts

    • Wambui N. Gathu
    January/February 2017

    Replenishment managers are responsible for ensuring that items are replaced the moment they leave shelves—whether they have been purchased by an end customer or removed by a retail professional because of damage or age. At the heart of this effort is inventory management, as replenishment managers walk that very thin and precarious line between stockout and oversupply.......Read More

  • Reinforcing Productivity in the Steel Industry

    • Wes Wells
    • Mike Toombs
    • Frank Roberto
    • Demetri Michaelides
    • Brad Kern
    • Pat Farragher
    • Mandyam M. Srinivasan
    January/February 2017

    The steel industry encompasses both the producers that melt and form steel and the processors that add value by conditioning steel for downstream customers. As a result, trends and shifts in the steel industry significantly influence material costs for automotive, construction, consumer appliance, energy, heavy machinery, and many other sectors.......Read More

  • Push, Pull, or Both?

    A combined approach to replenishment planning
    • Ron Crabtree
    November/December 2016

    Lean purists insist that it’s possible to manage any kind of inventory with some form of a pull system, which uses consumption-based triggers for replenishment. Alternatively, the material requirements planning and sales and operations planning folks typically prefer the zero-inventory benefits offered by a more traditional method involving replenishment that is triggered by planned orders only. As is so often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between: Certain operations do lend themselves to pull, while others are better managed with a push approach. ......Read More

  • Cycle Counting by the Probabilities

    Why the best systems weigh the inventory-variance odds
    • David Ross
    September/October 2016

    The most effective cycle counting programs reflect the realities of managing inventory in a dynamic environment. Within successful frameworks such as these, inventory managers are able to reach their inventory accuracy goals and balance the cost of cycle counting with the cost of analyzing variance causes and maintaining accuracy controls. Unfortunately, many programs suffer from ambiguity and imprecision related to the mechanics of assembling the cycle counting system. Furthermore, too many inventory managers struggle to determine the optimum cycle for item review, how many items to count, and how to use cycle counting results to continuously improve record accuracy.......Read More

  • Don’t Alienate Your Inventory Managers

    Intelligent life forms put turnover responsibility in its proper space
    • Randall Schaefer
    • Deb Smith
    September/October 2016

    Inventory turnover is a powerful marker. It communicates a company’s inventory management values, compares one business’s inventory velocity to that of similar firms, measures internal trends, and sets the desired standard for group and individual goal attainment.......Read More

  • Achieving Inventory Nirvana

    Get there by analyzing turns levels in context
    • Dave Turbide
    July/August 2016

    Do you know the current inventory turns measurement for your company? Do you have a goal for improving that performance? These are important questions for any company that has inventory.......Read More

  • Amplified Availability

    Spare parts inventory simulations hone network operations
    • Margaret S. Wise
    • David K. Peterson
    • Vitali Volovoi
    July/August 2016

    Today’s communication networks, air traffic control systems, national electrical grids, unmanned aircraft systems, and numerous other industries depend on complex systems or systems of systems—that require a delicate balance of component functionalities to achieve a greater common objective. It makes sense that these highly engineered and intricate tools dictate a correspondingly sophisticated level of support.......Read More

  • Powering Your SKUs with Data

    Automated statistical analysis drives inventory management efforts
    • Thomas R. Willemain
    July/August 2016

    Supply chain and operations management professionals recognize the importance of inventory management to both customer satisfaction and cost control. They also understand the inherent tension between the goals of customer satisfaction and cost control: In short, doing better on one puts a strain on the other. Easing this tension relies on finding the optimal balance point where customer service goals can be met with the lowest possible inventory investment.......Read More

  • Got Holes in Your Books?

    Don’t be blind to purchase price variance mischief
    • Deb Smith
    • Randall Schaefer
    July/August 2016

    Metrics such as inventory turns, on-time shipments, production efficiency, and the like are woven into the fabric of most manufacturing operations in order to gain control over production and costs. But each has the potential to be subverted for personal advantage. The most-often-abused metric is purchase price variance (PPV). ......Read More

  • Get Repair Parts Right

    Military Inventory-Planning Model Offers Universal Lessons
    • Michael Brackney
    • Steven Hurt
    May/June 2016

    When a new weapon system is introduced, program managers aim to implement a system-maintenance model that will increase performance, reduce costs, provide timely execution and responsive service, and facilitate sustainable supply chain management. One way they work to achieve these objectives is through an interim period of support from the system’s prime contractor, who almost certainly has the most intimate knowledge of the weapon system and its subsystems.......Read More

  • On-the-Mark Innovations

    RFID targets superior work-in-process, inventory, and quality controls
    • Elizabeth Rennie
    January/February 2016

    At American Woodmark Corporation, kitchen and bathroom cabinets are built to order using more than 500 product lines and while holding no finished goods inventory. The build process on an individual project starts only when an order is placed and processed, and each kitchen or bathroom cabinet is manufactured in sequence for delivery to the customer’s home. ......Read More