02 Mar Battlefield Strategies for the Supply Manager
It’s been an eventful year for us here at HUB. It began when we announced in January that we were being acquired by Applied Industrial Technologies. In the months that have followed, we have continued to be true to our mission and vision while working out our new identity as part of the Applied MSS division.
One thing that did change is our horizon. It expanded. As a part of Applied MSS, we have ready access to a lot of resources. We now have a strong incentive to explore avenues to serve our existing customers in ways that we were never equipped to undertake before.
The area that is most affected is the area of inventory management. Even before our acquisition, we had identified that many of our customers would find value in being better able to manage their supplies. Our technology team has developed a concept called Inventory IQ where our customers can choose from a buffet of tools that we offer to empower them and simplify the management of their supplies.
This is a big deal because the smallest items—the items that have the smallest cost to buy—tend to take up a disproportionate amount of resources to manage. A figure that is commonly cited is that the 10% of your inventory that has the lowest cost takes as much as 50% of your time to manage compared to the rest of your supplies.
Historically, companies have turned to suppliers to help them with this problem, and thus was born the vendor managed inventory (VMI) model that many large manufacturers subscribe to. A variation on this theme is the more recent trend of vending machines to improve monitoring of usage.
VMI and vending are both worthy methods of managing inventory, and we now can offer both on a nationwide scale very competitively through our corporate connections. However, there is a third option in inventory management that is coming into its own, and HUB is gearing up to play a role in its evolution. That third option is Customer Managed Inventory, or CMI.
We are at a period in history where technology is making available very powerful tools to automate inventory management to the point where a manager can track consumption and place orders in a fraction of the time itexperience both cost effective and minimally demanding of a manager’s time.
In case you haven’t seen them yet, these pocket scanners are designed to instantly read the barcode on labels that we provide. A pushbutton on the scanner emits a bright laser line of light that you focus on the barcode label. In an instant, it reads the barcode and beeps to acknowledge the code is read. Every beep stores an order of a predetermined quantity of that item in the memory of the scanner to be uploaded to your computer.
When you connect your scanner to your computer, it will open up a shopping cart on the HUB website and populate the cart with all the things you have scanned. You are in control at all times because the order will not be placed until you have looked it over, made whatever adjustments you want to make, and pressed the “enter” button.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to inventory management. This scanner is going to work really well for many of our customers, but it’s not going to fit every scenario. That is why we are offering the buffet we call Inventory IQ. Our technicians are very creative in devising ways for companies of any size to improve their costs by better management of their supplies.
Until next time,