IDBS Blog | 22nd March 2016
Taking stock: The cost of not managing lab inventory efficiently
As labs find themselves under constant pressure to reduce costs and save time, there’s a lot of talk around how organizations can streamline various lab processes. One area that often slips under the radar is inventory management. And yet, organizations could be sitting on a goldmine and in today’s fast paced environment, they must start to ask themselves – what is the real cost of not managing lab inventory efficiently?
#1 Working capital squeeze
The amount of working capital tied up in lab inventory and stock is a significant ‘cost of business’ for research and development (R&D) labs. This is money that can’t be used elsewhere in the organization. Streamlining the amount of stock held in storage can free up cashflow for other projects.
#2 High levels of waste
When stock isn’t monitored closely or in real-time, keeping an accurate track record of inventory is a big ask. Many labs today still rely on paper processes or Excel spreadsheets which see them wasting high levels of out of date items that scientists perhaps didn’t even know were there.
#3 Research delays
Conversely, when a research team can’t garner a clear picture of its inventory it also leaves them open to delays. What happens when a scientist can’t find the specific chemical needed for an experiment? Time is spent looking for that needle in a haystack and more often than not, it’s quicker to re-buy the item than waste further time trying to find it.
#4 Storage space bursting at the seams
Lab space tends to cost a premium and storing high levels of inventory can require significant room. Liberating some of these square feet, by cutting out waste and better managing stock that needs to be held onsite day to day, can save costs when it comes to lab real estate and storage space.
#5 Hazardous environments
With no clear view on what’s in the cupboards there is every chance that labs could be sitting on out of date, hazardous chemicals and items. This can create unsafe lab environments which fall short of regulatory requirements for the way certain chemicals must be stored or the audit trails required around certain items for safety.
Inventory is often mismanaged at lab level because of a lack of solutions in place that are effective, simple and up to date. But this is a real drain on cash and time resources, and that’s before we reflect on the hidden costs of storage space and creating hazardous environments in the lab.
This is high impact stuff and increasingly labs are turning to smart tools to support lab inventory management. By overhauling the way they manage their resources, organizations stand to make thousands of dollars which can be ploughed back into research.