Extreme Storeroom Makeover Plan – Special Report
Got Wasteful MRO Storerooms? Follow this Extreme Makeover Plan.
By Tom Jameson, President
Based on my numerous visits to industrial storerooms, I’d venture to say at least 70%-80% are infected with wasteful practices and storage policies. and when all the waste in a typical Maintenance, Repair and operations (MRO) storeroom comes to light, it’s not unusual for the storeroom’s manager to be stunned at what he learns.
But, that’s not to say that most MRO storeroom managers would be totally SURPRISED to learn their operations were not as efficient and profitable as they should be. In fact, a recent survey of storeroom managers by Grainger Industrial Supply produced these findings:
- 73% of storeroom managers believe they have too much inventory
- 87% suspect there are substantial cost-savings opportunities they have not tapped
- 71% admit inventory management in their storeroom operation could likely be improved
How to think about your storeroom makeover
Unlike the celebrity team featured on the Extreme Home Makeover television series, you can’t just bulldoze your storeroom and start over. Your storeroom may have been put in place when the plant was built, including the original shelving and old pallet racks. You may also be shackled by out-of-date storage facilities and material handling equipment.
Your first step: conduct a gap analysis assessment, which provides a snapshot of the current state of stores operation, and identifies barriers and behaviors creating inefficient results. Often, as you analyze data from your assessment, you’ll find that many barriers and behaviors identified as problems are actually workaround solutions floor level employees have developed to compensate for undocumented or poorly designed work processes and undocumented changes to operating equipment.
When basic business processes for storeroom operation are not followed, other areas of management begin to be ignored. Within a remarkably short time, a storeroom can accumulate materials stacked in the aisles. . . develop safety hazards created by improper storage practices. . . and create inventory in excess of the maximum stocking level.
As part of your gap assessment, implementing a series of storeroom Kaizen projects based on the 5S visual management system is a good starting point. Assessing your storeroom to identify what needs to stay and what needs to go will increase employee safety awareness. . . and provide the shelf space needed to reorganize inventory.
Figure 1 Before and After photos show a Kaizen project that eliminated several safety hazards, increased storage efficiency through a small investment in new pallet racks and allowed more time for storeroom employees to relocate inventory in more effective commodity groupings.