Though it can be easily overlooked, lab inventory management is among the most effective ways to improve productivity and reduce costs in your lab. However, monitoring reagents, instruments, lab equipment, and consumable supplies can be challenging. Improving lab efficiency and stretching your budget is possible with the following creative and straightforward tips from experts in our dermatology pathology lab service in Dallas, TX.
DETERMINE A STARTING POINT
Whether making an effort to simplify an existing lab’s inventory procedures or starting a brand-new lab, determining a starting point is essential. You must take stock of absolutely everything in your lab. You can do this through a software program or with paper and a pen. Regardless of the tools you use, it is vital to account for everything. This initial inventory will help you take stock of what you need and what you don’t.
DETERMINING STOCKING LEVELS AND REDUCTIONS
Now that your inventory list is completed, it is time to evaluate what you need more and less of. During this process, it is essential to consider your daily routine, what products you use most often and how many you use weekly or monthly, what items get thrown away because they reach their expiration date before use, and so on. Taking notes during this process can be helpful and give you something to look back on.
Next, create a spreadsheet or list of items your lab will continue using and how many to keep stocked. This will act as your reordering threshold. Once in lab stock reaches this number, it is time to reorder. Again, automating this process using a Laboratory Information Management Software (LIMS) is highly beneficial.
It would be best if you also addressed reduction at this time. Do not continue ordering them when you notice that some supplies just sit on the shelf and rarely get any use. Buying in bulk can help save money, but not if the items will never get used.
ASSIGNING INVENTORY LOCATIONS
Once stocking levels have been determined, it is time to consider the best place for supplies to be stored with your space. Careful planning during this step can add to your lab efficiency. It is essential to keep things where they can be easily accessed and adequately stored. For example, you might choose to store items used in the same area or store certain items together according to expiration dates. Grouping inventory items by type, expiration date, and use frequency helps keep the lab organized and makes it easy to restock.
There are great ways to automate your inventory system when necessary and cost-effective. For example, Barcode systems allow you to place a barcode on inventory shelves for scanning inventory in or out. If automation is not an option or you simply prefer to work without it, you can post a spreadsheet to track inventory or even post a whiteboard for lab users to write what needs ordering.
When possible, store consumables in storage containers and organizing bins to help with cleanliness and efficiency. You should also correctly store instruments and lab equipment. Here are things to consider:
- Never store in or around excessive temperatures
- Do not store near water supplies like sinks and washbasins
- Invest in shields and cover to protect from dust and debris
- Make equipment easy to retrieve by storing at waist level
- Unplug equipment when not in use
- Store calibration and maintenance records close by
These are just a few tips for proper lab inventory. Contact us today for more information on our dermatology pathology laboratory service in Dallas, TX.