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The Importance of a Maintenance Storeroom Inventory Clerk

Ruth Hughes, CMRP & CDG Founder & CEO

It’s morning and you head to the kitchen to have a bowl of cereal before leaving for work. First, you grab your favorite box of cereal. Then, you open the cabinet door to get a cereal bowl, but the bowls are missing. And when you open the silverware drawer to get a spoon, there isn’t any silverware. You think to yourself, “Hmmm. That’s strange. I guess I’ll just grab something else on my way to work.”

Little did we know that we all are inventory clerks. Every time we go to the store to buy something that we ran out of, we’re performing the inventory management function of replenishment. Every time we put dishes or laundry away after they’ve been washed or put away items that we bought, we are performing the inventory management function of stocking.

When it comes to retail stores and auto repair shops, they have inventory clerks and inventory management systems to provide optimal service and to maximize profits. When you go to a retail store or auto repair shop, inventory is categorized, organized, labeled, priced, and given a home. What if this wasn’t the case? What if you asked a retail store employee where something was and they replied, “I don’t know.” What if you went to a restaurant and each time that you ordered something the server replied, “We’re not sure if we have the ingredients needed to make that for you.” What if your car needed to be repaired and the repair shop didn’t have or didn’t know where the parts were that were needed to fix it?

Many times, manufacturing companies don’t provide their maintenance departments with inventory clerks and inventory management systems because they don’t consider Maintenance to be an auto repair shop or service center even though it is. Hence, significant time and money is wasted when a part is out of stock or can’t be found. This hurts the company’s bottom line and morale.

Imagine if you were a maintenance technician and a critical piece of equipment is down causing an entire manufacturing line to be down. Additionally, the entire company is putting pressure on you to repair it, but you can’t because the part that you need can’t be found or is out of stock. Each minute that the equipment is down is not only stressful but quite costly as follows:

Equipment Downtime

Assumptions for a Typical Plant Running 24 / 5:

  • Average Amount of Downtime (caused by not having available parts): 2.5 Hours / Day
  • Estimated Cost of Downtime: $500 / Hour
  • (2.5 Hours / Day) x (260 Days / Year) x ($500 / Hour) = $325,000 / Year

And when it’s determined that the part must be reordered, you as a maintenance technician have to order the part and then get approval for expedited shipping. Again, more stressful, inefficient, and costly activities.

A manufacturing plant is quite different from your kitchen. When a manufacturing plant can’t find a needed part, it’s not as easy as finding something else to eat. Maintenance departments within manufacturing plants, just like retail stores and auto repair shops, need an inventory clerk and an inventory management system to maximize profits.

Where there are people, there is inventory. When significant costs can be associated to inventory when it’s unavailable or can’t be found, an inventory clerk is a must. In a typical manufacturing plant, an inventory clerk helps eliminate the annual $325,000 cost of parts-related equipment downtime by ensuring that parts are available and easy-to-find. Additionally, employee satisfaction will increase, and happy employees make happy customers!

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