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snomaha
12-18-2011, 12:08 PM
Looking for experience from 500k and above in sprinkler revenue on managing parts inventory. Anyone using a software system? techs responsible for stocking their own vehicles? We do not have a documented process in place and it's killing me in excess late season inventory sitting on the shelves.
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Mike Leary
12-18-2011, 12:19 PM
I never had much luck with any of the above: I tried to buy "for the job" and keep a stock of everything needed for service work in the shop or the truck, but, I was like you, I never liked sitting on inventory, especially pipe. I would have a much larger motor home if I'd collected a nickel every time one of my guys said, "we're out of 1" 45s". :hammerhead:

greenmonster304
12-18-2011, 12:24 PM
"we're out of 1" 45s". :hammerhead:

Switch to poly and you will never need another 45 again
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DanaMac
12-18-2011, 12:41 PM
I think we all get that way. After July, I tell me guys to watch what they buy, and ask each other if the other guy has something before they go buy a box of whatever. I have a ton of 1" poly ells right now because both guys bought a box late in the season.
Sorry can't help ya, I don't have a system in place either.

Mike Leary
12-18-2011, 12:51 PM
Switch to poly and you will never need another 45 again

:laugh: Reminds me of a product one of my REPS turned me onto years ago. It was called "glueable poly", I think it was a pool product, took a special glue and it seemed to me, a cool way of getting over/under roots/mainline, etc. We tried it on one job, seemed to mate with sch 40 pvc fittings, until I got a call one Saturday morning and found that all the connections had blown. Seemed it was not made for pressure applications. :dizzy::hammerhead:

Wet_Boots
12-18-2011, 01:00 PM
someone had the "flex pvc" tubing at a show, but did caution the (drooling) onlookers that it was not for continuous pressure

snomaha
12-18-2011, 01:00 PM
Had a install crew foreman put in a 4k stock order mid November the day before a 6" snowstorm????? I'm sure my vendor loves us.
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Mike Leary
12-18-2011, 01:10 PM
someone had the "flex pvc" tubing at a show, but did caution the (drooling) onlookers that it was not for continuous pressure

Geez, an honest REP? I was smart enough (sorta) in those days to not consider it for mainline applications, but she blew (to the moon, Alice) on laterals. :cry:

Wet_Boots
12-18-2011, 01:39 PM
Yeah, whoda thunk it? I forsaw it solving manifold rebuilds, especially considering that pvc unions weren't inventoried by distributors at the time.

mitchgo
12-18-2011, 01:58 PM
What kind of invoicing setup do you have?

You got to figure out some way to to keep track of all the parts used from your invoicing

FIMCO-MEISTER
12-18-2011, 02:45 PM
Maybe Koster will weigh in. Seems he has a nice inventory arrangement. The supply house checks his inventory and adds what is needed. I suspect they adjust the quantities seasonally based on past history.
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Kiril
12-18-2011, 02:56 PM
Quickbooks Pro has inventory tracking and auto ordering, at least my stone age copy does. That said, your inventory tracking accuracy is only as good as the people who are tracking it.

snomaha
12-18-2011, 02:57 PM
We are missing the base of inventory control which is physically accounting for what is in vans and trailers on a regularly scheduled date. Don't feel *we can automate inventory *until we get a base process *in place. QB has inventory capabilities - anyone have experience with it?
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Kiril
12-18-2011, 02:59 PM
QB has inventory capabilities - anyone have experience with it?

Yes ... a very old version of it.

snomaha
12-18-2011, 03:00 PM
Quickbooks Pro has inventory tracking and auto ordering, at least my stone age copy does. That said, your inventory tracking accuracy is only as good as the people who are tracking it.
Exactly - give me a good system we can execute at 100% rather then a great system executed at 50%.
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snomaha
12-18-2011, 03:02 PM
Yes ... a very old version of it.

We use QB enterprise 12 - what is your experience with the older version?
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Kiril
12-18-2011, 03:10 PM
I track inventory, but my failure to audit my inventory and/or update quantities when not generating purchase orders means the inventory database is only good for generating invoices. At one point it was all accurate .......

If the counts and pricing are off, everything else (with respect to tracking and ordering) goes out the window. If you have a large inventory it can be daunting to set it up and maintain it. Not sure how the new versions of QB work, but if you have a massive inventory, I would be looking for solutions that use a real database, not a flat one.

txirrigation
12-18-2011, 03:27 PM
I usually make a bulk order in Jan of about 50k based on our average install parts list. That usually gets us through 3 months, maybe a few weeks more. I do not stock parts larger than 2", for those commercial systems we get the parts delivered to the shop and put on the install trailers.

After we dwindle our supply we start a 2 week delivery system where the supplier checks our shelves and re stocks as needed.

Once every few months I do inventory before the supply truck arrives and then inventory after they leave to make sure we are not getting anything less or more than we order.

On a 6-12k re stock they are always within about $5 either way on what is invoiced. That is pretty good for all the random parts that are stocked.

The best way to make sure your not getting robbed by your guys is to pay your techs well. They will not want to loose their job, and will not tolerate theft. I also pay my shovel guys $20 more per day than the average in my area. The competition still can not figure out why I can install systems so much faster with less guys....

Kiril
12-18-2011, 03:29 PM
I track inventory, but my failure to audit my inventory and/or update quantities when not generating purchase orders means the inventory database is only good for generating invoices. At one point it was all accurate .......

If the counts and pricing are off, everything else (with respect to tracking and ordering) goes out the window. If you have a large inventory it can be daunting to set it up and maintain it. Not sure how the new versions of QB work, but if you have a massive inventory, I would be looking for solutions that use a real database, not a flat one.

If I may expand on this. One of the things that makes inventory tracking a PITA is similar priced items ... for example nozzles. Most nozzles (not all) are priced the same for a given type, so when invoicing it makes more sense to me (with respect to time spent) to just have a generic nozzle item that covers all nozzles in that pricing group. Now if you want to maintain an accurate inventory for ordering purposes, you need to track every single nozzle you stock and invoice it by nozzle as well. Of course, that means any kind of automatic tracking and ordering of those items is impossible.

txirrigation
12-18-2011, 03:34 PM
I track inventory, but my failure to audit my inventory and/or update quantities when not generating purchase orders means the inventory database is only good for generating invoices. At one point it was all accurate .......

If the counts and pricing are off, everything else (with respect to tracking and ordering) goes out the window. If you have a large inventory it can be daunting to set it up and maintain it. Not sure how the new versions of QB work, but if you have a massive inventory, I would be looking for solutions that use a real database, not a flat one.

daunting is an understatement. Especially when RB or Hunter increases prices a little and you have to go through your invoicing system for repairs and adjust everything.

snomaha
12-18-2011, 03:37 PM
Our problem is not so much the sprinkler parts room but the vans and trailers - you look into one of the service vans and it could be an episode of hoarders!
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Kiril
12-18-2011, 03:41 PM
daunting is an understatement. Especially when RB or Hunter increases prices a little and you have to go through your invoicing system for repairs and adjust everything.

That is one of the biggest hassles of implementing and maintaining automated inventory tracking and ordering next to accurate counts .... keeping the pricing accurate .... and pricing differences between vendors. Pricing differences between vendors is one thing my version of QB didn't do, which is a major hassle if you deal with multiple vendors for the same item.

Mike Leary
12-18-2011, 03:45 PM
Towards the end of my career, the prices changed so often, that I had to bill from the branch invoice, especially with pvc pipe. :dizzy:

Kiril
12-18-2011, 03:48 PM
Our problem is not so much the sprinkler parts room but the vans and trailers - you look into one of the service vans and it could be an episode of hoarders!

You need to implement a system where everything is tracked when it leaves the warehouse, and then when it gets invoiced. You also need to account for items that get broken on the job, in which case it never sees the invoice in most cases, all the intangibles and the stuff that somehow just mysteriously disappears (not necessarily theft).

Spot auditing on the trucks inventory will verify if the system is working or not. It will also allow you to correct inaccuracies and identify employees who are not doing their job.

Mike Leary
12-18-2011, 03:52 PM
identify employees who are not doing their job.

You mean the boss man has to stay on top of things even though he pays the lead to take care of inventory? :dizzy:

Kiril
12-18-2011, 04:02 PM
You mean the boss man has to stay on top of things even though he pays the lead to take care of inventory? :dizzy:

It is all too easy to guesstimate (usually high if you are unsure or you can't remember) what you have used on a job, instead of tracking what you actually took off the truck and used. I know we all have been there. Service trucks almost beg for an on board computer inventory tracker which syncs with the main database daily. You then train your guys to log everything that comes on and off. Naturally this would need to have a very efficient interface so your techs/supers aren't spending 30 minutes at every stop logging shiit that comes off the truck.

mitchgo
12-18-2011, 05:05 PM
As a tech- it's my responsibility to take care of my truck. Parts and tools included.

During the summer we have a weekly re-order on all parts I used the past week. It generally takes about 30 minutes to put all parts away and to verify the parts I received matches up with my order list and invoice list. I can't work in a choatic truck- there are times even after my 12-14 hour work day that I will stay after and re-organize my truck/ clean it up.

When I work with crew I'm always on their case to write down everything they grab out prior to leaving the truck because they will forget! ME for the most part I have a pretty good photographic step by step memory so tend to remember all of my parts.. If I miss something it's no big deal because it's my own accountability

GreenI.A.
12-18-2011, 05:08 PM
I set up my stocking assortment in quickbooks last winter which killed qa few days. The problem I sound is that when I adjusted my system cost this season (mid season) due to vendor price increases it changed the past pricing to changing the income purchase orders and my sales costs. So it completly messed up all of my records. Now I just use excell. It's not ideal but i can customerize it how I need it unti;l I'm ready to by an actual inventory management program. I've playesd with the system my father implemented for his company, it would work perfect for this industry because it gives you a total company wide inventory, while letting you control inventory and restock levels for multiple smaller warehouses, and lets you easily transfer product from one warehouse to another. I figure you could just set up each service van, or install truck up as a seperate warehouse. The problem with his system is, it costs over 20k

txirrigation
12-18-2011, 08:00 PM
As a tech- it's my responsibility to take care of my truck. Parts and tools included.

During the summer we have a weekly re-order on all parts I used the past week. It generally takes about 30 minutes to put all parts away and to verify the parts I received matches up with my order list and invoice list. I can't work in a choatic truck- there are times even after my 12-14 hour work day that I will stay after and re-organize my truck/ clean it up.

When I work with crew I'm always on their case to write down everything they grab out prior to leaving the truck because they will forget! ME for the most part I have a pretty good photographic step by step memory so tend to remember all of my parts.. If I miss something it's no big deal because it's my own accountability

This is how I do it. We have one dedicated repair truck, it is a utility body f-250 that sometimes turns into an install truck. Most repairs turn into system re-models because of the regs that changed in 2010 in TX. Otherwise I would have a more eco truck on repairs.

There is a place for everything. I will take some pictures, but having the truck organized with labels is a must. We always keep a system's worth of components on the truck with the exception of pipe. We only keep about 160ft of pipe from 1/2-1, and about 40 ft of 1 1/4-3in on the repair truck. That way when you look in the MPR2000 3"x6" slot and the tech only has 4 left he knows he needs to turn in an order sheet.

All order sheets are turned in to me, and then they can go pull a bag off the shelf.

Mike Leary
12-18-2011, 08:19 PM
The tech that says, 'Boss, we're getting low" gets my vote. :clapping:

txirrigation
12-18-2011, 08:58 PM
The tech that says, 'Boss, we're getting low" gets my vote. :clapping:

Honestly it's the best way. Then all you have to do is keep track of the "order sheets" for your inventory. If you notice something keeps coming up short... then micro manage that one item until you get to the bottom of it. I usually pick one big ticket small item once a month to keep tabs on. MPR nozzles seem to be a big ticket item, because they are small and expensive. When the guys notice me asking questions every month they know I am keeping tabs, which is why I usually never have problems.

koster_irrigation
12-18-2011, 09:28 PM
Yes.

Our supplier agreement works with us on a 'consignment' deal, as our shop is stocked to the brim with pretty much everything under the sun.

This deal was started with JDL and I ran with them for a few years, and I have been with Simmons for the last year, and have enjoyed my relationship with them by far.

We are invoiced after each time they come and 'recount' whats been taken only. They count about every two weeks or as needed.

We're still a small enough company that i can keep up with whats going on without to have some computer system to keep track of our inventory. But im not sure as to what sized company you would need to be, to be offered this setup. I would imagine around 100k+ in parts a yr. Or just have a really good relationship with your supplier.

AI Inc
12-19-2011, 08:03 AM
What kind of invoicing setup do you have?

You got to figure out some way to to keep track of all the parts used from your invoicing

Thats the easiest way. At the end of the day when ya bill , keep a blank service order handy and mark each item that ya bill. Next morning give it back to the tech to restock it.