Ad Hoc Inventory Management: Risks & Benefits


When I talk to maintenance managers and operations people about inventory management, the responses I get are very interesting, to say the least. One of the most common responses is: “we don’t keep any inventory.” Well, you and I both know, this is bunk! (Of course I can’t say this to folks I’m talking to.) What I mean is, this raises many inventory management risks.

Now, it would be extremely inefficient to order and fetch every part or piece necessary on an as needed basis. Maintenance departments have to keep some form of inventory on site just to get by day to day, otherwise, they raise a plethora of inventory management risks. It might seem like a small amount, but it’s inventory never the less. Let’s label this strategy “Ad Hoc Inventory Management.”

The meaning of Ad Hoc for Ad Hoc Inventory Management is “we don’t keep track of the stuff lying around the shop, we only use/buy it when necessary.” You know you’re using Ad Hoc Inventory Management when you buy items two at a time: one to use and one to hide, just in case. Of course, when the next time rolls around you can’t find the extra you purchased last time so you buy two more!

There are no bad choices in maintenance management strategies; as long as you make them with your eyes wide open. Just as “Run to Failure” is a perfectly valid preventive maintenance strategy, so is Ad Hoc Inventory Management. An ad hoc strategy allows you and your staff to track inventory in an informal, impromptu, and off-the-cuff manner. It also requires that you be willing to absorb the associated financial loss (or breakage) in order to save on the cost of a fully managed inventory control system.

As the saying goes, “paint it or salute it!” Just don’t deny it. Protect yourself. Avoid inventory management risks!