Three tips to declutter your storeroom and decrease inventory costs

How do you feel when you walk into your organization’s storeroom? Anxious? Frustrated? Maybe even a little afraid? For many organizations, storerooms are like attics: drafty, dark, and disorganized; places you only go if you absolutely have to. This blog post will provide fmxbottoolsyou with some insight to take back your
storeroom and improve your inventory management, enabling you to save time and money in the future.

Let’s look at some numbers

A typical organization overstocks about 29 percent of their internal inventory, according to the findings of CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management), Andrew Gager. Let’s say that your entire inventory store is worth about $50,000. That means that you likely have around $14,000 worth of overstocked materials. Now imagine what you could do if you had that amount back in your budget.

But overstocking is not the only way that inventory can be mismanaged. More than half (58 percent) of a typical organization’s inventory has been stationary for more than three years. Now, some of these untouched items are important, though uncommonly used parts. But a significant portion of these items are probably obsolete. Let’s use the same example as before: if your inventory storeroom is worth $50,000, that means that you have around $29,000 worth of potentially obsolete items.

Why do these problems occur?

  1. No system for obsolete part disposal

Parts and other inventory items can become obsolete in several ways:

Equipment replacement: The equipment that utilized the part was replaced and the parts cannot be used by the new equipment.
Damage: Improper upkeep or accidents have caused the part to become damaged.
Cannibalization: A section of the part was used for another purpose and was not replaced.
Expiration: In the case of consumables, cleaning solutions, etc., the part was not used by its expiration date and is no longer safe to be used.

Without a proper way to dispose of these items, they can take up valuable space in your storeroom, lead to unsafe working conditions, add extra time to simple maintenance tasks, and lead to the next reason, “disorganization”.

  1. Disorganization
    Storerooms are notoriously disorganized. Parts are often stacked on top of each other and are poorly labeled. According to Gager, facilities staff spend about 18 percent of their days searching for tools and inventory. Sometimes storerooms are so disorganized that facilities staff will go out and purchase what they need to avoid searching for it in the storeroom.
    Disorganization will often cause organizations to unnecessarily reorder inventory because parts are improperly labeled or lost. Your staff will then have to wait for the parts to come in before they can complete the work order or planned maintenance task.

How to take back your storeroom

  1. Create a catalog
    The first step in taking back your storeroom is to identify, document, and label what is currently there. This process will help you to identify obsolete items, commonly used items that were ordered and misplaced, and some real gems as well: you may very well be holding on to parts that are out of production but that you still need for your equipment. The best way to catalog your inventory is with a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), like FMX.
    As you go through this process, be sure to note the quality of each item and its priority to your organization. Is it in good condition? For consumables, is it still within its expiration date? For larger parts, does the item have all of its components? Is the part crucial to maintain operations or is it no longer needed by your organization? Enter these notes in your CMMS so that you can review them as you’re going through the next step, “obsolete inventory disposal”.

How FMX can help: Each inventory item receives its own entry in FMX, where you can include its name, supplier, and any details about its quality and relevance to your organization. Once the entry is created, FMX will assign it a unique QR barcode for easy identification and labeling. FMX also makes it easy to search for the exact item you’re looking for and edit its description or change its quantity. If you already have a spreadsheet of your inventory, an FMX customer success representative can import that information for you.

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Inventory entry
  1. Remove obsolete materials: Once you have identified obsolete items in your inventory, you’ll want to remove them. But wait, remember those numbers from before? You’re likely looking at removing 25 percent or more of your inventory store, and depending on the size of your storeroom, those items could be worth a lot of money. Before you toss them, check with your purchasing and/or financial departments. They may want to sell these materials or donate them for tax credit. At the very least, they’ll likely want to document the loss.

Regarding consumables—If your organization stocks a lot of consumables they likely already have a waste management process. If you are not aware of this process, ask around before you throw these materials in the trash or down the sink. If you have expired commercial cleaning products, check the labels. Manufacturers often include instructions for disposal on the label. If you can’t find any instructions on the label, check with your local waste disposal facility for how to properly dispose of the products.

  1. Determine appropriate stocking minimums and maximums: There is a thin line between being overstocked and being understocked. Think about the inventory used for your most common repairs and planned maintenance tasks. This should give you a good starting point to establish some preliminary stocking levels. Using a CMMS over time will give you a better indication of what your actual minimums and maximums should be.

How FMX can help: FMX can help you track which inventory items you’ve used in the past week, month, year, or more. This information will allow you to more closely predict how many items you’ll need in the future. FMX can also help you keep track of the amount of time it takes to reorder inventory items from suppliers. This information will give you a good indication of how much of a particular item to keep in stock.

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Inventory log

Another thing to consider when determining your stocking minimums and maximums is the item’s priority. For example, if you’re from a manufacturing facility and you do not have a critical part for a piece of production or safety equipment, that can be a big problem. Even if that piece of equipment rarely requires maintenance, it is important to keep at least a few of those particular parts in stock.

How FMX can help

FMX enables facilities managers and their staff to more efficiently and effectively track inventory, equipment, purchasing, and much more. FMX provides a unique QR barcode for every asset, and enables facilities staff to save time by scanning codes from any smartphone or tablet to adjust inventory quantities, obtain asset maintenance procedures and history, and more.

FMX also provides facilities managers with valuable insight into inventory usage and purchase histories.

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Allison is a product marketing manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not writing marketing content, she is likely hiking with her dog or cooking delicious Italian food. 


How to spring into savings by tracking heating complaints this winter

Turkey day has come and gone which means that winter is coming…and so are the heating complaints.

According to a survey by Building Operating Management, 68 percent of facilities managers said that the most common complaints they receive from occupants are about temperature. And 16 percent of respondents said they field a heating or cooling request every day. Complaints can be disruptive especially when you have preventive maintenance or capital improvement projects to get to, but tracking heating and cooling requests over time can provide valuable insight into your HVAC system.

Tracking heating and cooling complaints from occupants

I’ll bet that you can think of a particular person in your building who is constantly complaining about the temperature. How do you determine if the problem is in your HVAC system or your occupant’s imagination? Well, tracking these and other heating and cooling complaints across your building is a good place to start. You may start to see a pattern. Perhaps other occupants in the same area are also reporting issues. Maybe this person is only experiencing issues earlier in the morning or maybe they only experience issues when the outside temperature drops below a certain point. Tracking this kind of data may help you to determine whether a complaint has some substance to it.

Let’s say you’ve received a lot of requests for a certain area and have determined that the temperature in those rooms is not within range. So you check your HVAC system, but it looks okay. Maybe your problem isn’t your HVAC system at all, maybe there’s a leak or poor insulation is allowing heat to escape. Because you tracked the complaints, you were able to determine that there was a hidden problem.

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) like FMX can help you to track the frequency, location, date and time of heating and cooling requests.

Responding to complaints

Occupants want to be heard above all else. They will feel a lot better if you can show that you’ve heard them and are making an effort to solve their problem. If you are unable to solve their problem, offering them a kind explanation goes a long way. However, if you ignore complaints, occupants will often take it upon themselves to find a solution to their problems. In the case of heating complaints, occupants will often use personal heaters in their work areas. According to a report by the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA), 60 percent of facilities managers said that their building occupants have brought in personal heaters if they were too cold. Personal heaters can be a fire hazard, cause power outages and can potentially make the problem worse.

A CMMS can improve communication between your team and building occupants. And with FMX, requesters are alerted when any progress has occurred on their request.

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Tracking maintenance activities

In addition to tracking complaints, you should also keep a log of your maintenance activities. That way if you experience similar HVAC problems in the future, you’ll have documentation on how you fixed it last time. Tracking maintenance activities should also give you an idea of which pieces of HVAC equipment are requiring more maintenance than others: maybe a particular model is underperforming, maybe all of the models from a specific manufacturer are under performing. Having this information documented will help you determine when to replace your equipment and with what.

FMX can help you coordinate HVAC repairs whether they are performed in-house or by a vendor.  You can also track how often you’ve had to make an HVAC system repair and to which pieces of equipment.

Tracking costs

Determining when you should make a capital improvement to your HVAC system can be a bit tricky, but it is worth it. You’ll need to know the amount of worker hours it takes to repair your system and whether or not they’ve increased over time (or the amount of time it takes for your vendor to complete the project and what their hourly rates are). It is also helpful to know your cost of inventory for each repair. This should give a basic idea of how much you are spending on your current system and whether or not it would be cost-effective to replace part or all of your HVAC system.

With the reporting and dashboard module in FMX, you can track labor hours/costs and inventory expenses, so that you can focus on convincing your boss to invest in capital improvements.

How FMX can help

FMX enables facilities managers to more efficiently and effectively track work orders, schedule resources, and plan maintenance. Our cloud-based solution features a calendar view simple enough for your team and your occupants to use to submit, track, and manage their requests. You can also use FMX to track equipment histories, worker hours, vendor rates and inventory.

 

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Allison is a product marketing manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not writing marketing content, she is likely hiking with her dog or cooking delicious Italian food. 


Introducing: Custom Modules in FMX

Here at FMX, we believe that our “out of the box” modules are pretty awesome and our customers agree. But we also realize that our standard modules might not be everyone’s cup of tea. So, we’re excited to introduce the FMX Custom Module!

Check out the video below to learn how you can benefit from adding a “build your own” module to your FMX site.

What is a Custom Module?

Under the hood, a Custom Module starts with the same framework and workflow as our standard Maintenance Request Module. The difference is, your new Custom Module can be tailored to match your unique needs and workflows that don’t fit into the mold of our standard modules.

Have it your way

With help from your FMX Customer Success Manager, your Custom Module can be equipped with:

  • A unique module name and icon (e.g., Human Resources Requests, Custodial Requests, Time Off Requests, etc.)
  • Customized forms, fields, and request types
  • Customized user permissions, approval processes, and email notifications
  • Color coding on the calendar page to easily identify your Custom Module requests

Custom Module success story: Broadmoor Baptist Church

FMX customer Bill Watters, Director of Operations from Broadmoor Baptist Church in Mississippi, loved FMX at first sight. But, the standard FMX modules didn’t quite match all of his organization’s workflows and the vocabulary they had grown accustomed to using.

The FMX Customer Success Team consulted with Bill to understand his unique needs and created these tailored Custom Modules for his FMX site which you can see in the video above:

  • Access Control Requests: Issuing new key cards for building access
  • Clean It Requests: Managing custodial needs
  • Fix It Requests: Managing maintenance needs

“Your customer support has been fantastic. We don’t see you as vendors, we see you guys as partners–and there’s a big difference there…The interaction and the customization, that makes a partner. And that’s what you guys are to us.”

– Bill Watters, Director of Operations, Broadmoor Baptist Church

Interested? We’re ready to help!

To learn more about Custom Module capabilities and pricing, contact your FMX Customer Success Manager today to schedule a consultation (or email support@gofmx.com). Custom Module setup typically takes less than a day, so you’ll be up and running in no time!

6 CMMS Best Practices for Stress-Free Audits

Does anyone not like getting two things for the price of one? That’s basically the idea behind using your CMMS to streamline audits.

If you’re familiar with CMMS’, you know they’re commonly used for managing work orders, scheduling preventive maintenance, tracking inventory, and so on. One of the hidden benefits of these powerful programs is that regularly performing the activities listed above will result in a wealth of facility data that you can use to verify compliance!

If you are currently using a CMMS, there are lots of ways you can tweak your processes to optimize your CMMS to become the perfect audit-assisting tool. If you don’t have a CMMS in place and deal with audits on a regular basis, read on to see just how simple things could be.

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Click here to download the infographic shown above.


riana_blog_headshot
 Riana is the creative services manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not creating content or brainstorming new outfits for the FMX-bot, she can be found doing crafts and drinking copious amounts of green tea.

Prepare Your Crew, Equipment, and Grounds for Old Man Winter

Here in Ohio, stores are lining their shelves with fall decor and Halloween candy which can only mean one thing, winter is just around the corner. It also means this is the perfect time to get a head start on preparing your crew, equipment, and grounds for the colder weather ahead.

Check out the tips below for a smooth sailing winter, even when the “weather outside is frightful”. If you live in a warm weather paradise, share this post with a cold climate friend!

Prepare your equipment

Will your equipment be reliable when old man winter strikes? Do you have access to back-up equipment in case of equipment failure? Follow the steps below to make sure that your equipment is in tip-top shape so you can prevent unexpected emergencies.

  • Clean, repair, and store summertime equipment (mowers, trimmers, etc.) in a separate location to provide easier access to wintertime equipment.
  • Inspect existing equipment that will be used heavily in the wintertime (snowplows, salt spreaders, etc.) to assess each item’s condition and determine if any equipment needs to be repaired, replaced, or rented. If it will cost more to maintain a piece of equipment than it’s actually worth, consider replacing it.
    • Develop and maintain an accurate equipment inventory to track model #’s, serial #’s, purchase dates, warranty expiration dates, and odometer readings. This information will help you predict when to replace equipment before it’s too late.
  • Snow and ice removal takes a toll on equipment. Perform preventive maintenance before winter sets in to make sure your equipment can handle the job:
    • Hydraulics: Check hydraulic cylinders for stress cracks in the paint, leaking or bent fittings, and damaged hoses. Remove contaminants from hydraulic systems so they don’t turn into rust and gunk while in storage.

    • Electrical components: Inspect and protect motors, wires, solenoids, switches, and connections to make sure they’re operating properly. Use a rust inhibitor to protect electrical systems from damage.

    • Mechanical and structural components: Check for cracks, bent pins, broken cutting edges, missing or broken bolts, and twisted framework. Repair any damage that is found.

Protect key landscape components

Follow these steps to ensure that your landscaping elements will stand the test of winter and be ready to blossom in the spring.

  • Clean up fallen leaves.
  • Apply extra mulch to prepare beds and tender plants for winter weather conditions.
  • October is the perfect time to replace summer annuals with chrysanthemums.
  • Plant spring bulbs before the ground freezes, or around mid-November.
  • Drain and winterize irrigation systems to prevent damage due to freezing.
  • Aerate soil and apply gypsum along driveways and near low runoff areas to reduce the damage caused by the accumulation of salt based deicers.

Prepare your crew and grounds

Before those snowflakes start falling, follow the steps below to rally your crew and ensure that everyone is informed about your winter procedures and proper upkeep of your grounds.

  • Establish contracts with outside equipment and service providers.
  • Review snow removal and inclement weather procedures and responsibilities with your staff.
  • Leverage your seasoned veterans to train new staff members on safe operation of equipment.
  • Inclement weather can result in long hours for your crew. Keep your staff safe and sane by recruiting extra helping hands in advance from other departments or outside contractors in case you need them.
  • Map out and assign snow removal routes. Prioritize which areas on or around your property (roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, etc.) will need to be cleared first after a snowfall.
  • Determine what to do with excess snow and notify equipment operators so they know where to push the snow.
    • Place signage in the areas designated for excess snow so that your building occupants will know those areas are reserved for snow piles.
  • Pre-treat sidewalks and other paved surfaces with anti-icing products to make snow and ice removal easier when the time comes. Consider using liquid anti-icing products, rather than granular ones like rock salt.
    • Although liquid deicers are more expensive, they typically do a better job preventing snow and ice from sticking to paved surfaces. If you do plan to use salt as a deicing agent, be cautious when using it near landscaped areas due to the erosion it can cause and avoid using it around electrical boxes and structural materials since it causes corrosion.

Download the “Winter Preparation Checklist”

We’ve combined all of the tips above into a handy checklist you can download below and print out to track your progress while you prepare for winter.

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Click here to download the “Winter Preparation Checklist”.


How FMX can help

FMX is a cloud-based software that simplifies facilities management. With FMX, you can maintain an accurate equipment inventory and schedule preventive maintenance tasks to ensure that your equipment and grounds are properly winterized.


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Jamie is the marketing director at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not keeping the marketing ship afloat, chances are she’s out hiking with her high school sweetheart husband.


Sources:
http://www.facilitiesnet.com/groundsmanagement/article/Grounds-and-Equipment-Preparation-for-Winter-Often-Begins-in-Summer–14967
http://www.facilitiesnet.com/groundsmanagement/tip/Snow-and-Ice-Management-Focus-on-Equipment–30280
http://www.facilitiesnet.com/groundsmanagement/article/Hot-Buttons-for-Colder-Weather–3452

 

6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Your Facility Management Budget

By this time of the year, most facility managers are wiping the sweat off their brow and saying “good riddance” to this fiscal year’s budget plan. While this seems like a good time to relax and take a breath (you deserve it), it’s also the perfect time to get started on next year’s budget! ln fact, facility management professionals suggest starting the budget planning process as early as 10 months before the fiscal year is out. We agree — it’s never too early to start! So, to help get your mind in the right place, we’ve compiled six questions that all facility managers should ask themselves when planning their budget. Check them out in our SlideShare presentation below.
We’re interested — what’s the top priority for your budget plan this year? Is there anything you do to streamline your budget planning process? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

With FMX, you can plan your budgets with confidence. Our cloud-based software provides you with the tools you need to track spending, productivity, equipment status, and more. With the help of our robust reporting and analytics, you can use this data to uncover insights on your facility management processes. FMX tracks resources and inventory while keeping everyone up-to-date with work orders, event schedules, and planned maintenance. Talk to an FMX-pert today to simplify the way you manage your facilities.


riana_blog_headshot
 Riana is the creative services manager at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not creating content or running the FMX customer community, she can be found doing crafts and drinking copious amounts of green tea.

3 Ways to Avoid Facility Fiascos this School Year

Your school’s fresh paint job is drying, the floors are squeaky clean, and the classrooms are in tip-top shape for your students and staff. So, bring on the students, right? Not just yet! Phew, glad we caught you before you did anything rash. Now is actually the perfect time to start adding some to-dos to your list that will help you start the new school year off on the right foot. These tasks are a lot like the idea of preventive maintenance, which is the practice of performing routine repairs or inspections to prevent a future emergency and extend the life of your building. If you carry out these simple tasks now, it could help you avoid conflicts and costly surprises down the line.

1. Get your school’s staff onboard

Maintaining open communication with your school’s faculty and staff is paramount if you want your facilities to operate with minimal hiccups. A couple simple practices can be the difference between an educational facility that runs smoothly and one that constantly needs attention.

  • Get into the habit of explaining the reasoning behind any requests you make of your colleagues. By properly explaining why certain rules are in place, you can prevent misunderstandings that would otherwise result in disaster.
    • For example, you may ask your colleagues to keep their thermostats at 74ºF. In your mind, you know it’s to keep mold from growing and to cut back on cooling costs. However, a teacher may think you just like to make them miserable so one Friday, when they can’t take it anymore, they disregard your request and turn down the thermostat to 65ºF. Then, to make matters worse, they leave it on in the empty classroom over the long weekend! Unbeknownst to them, they just left behind the perfect breeding grounds for mold. How could this have been avoided? Next time, provide the “why” behind your request. Providing the context behind a request makes your staff feel like they are in the loop and helps the information stick when it matters most.
  • Sometimes emails don’t get read or announcements are tuned out, so take advantage of your empty school and arm your facility with adequate signage. Don’t want a door left open? Make a sign for it. Want to remind staff that lights should only be on during certain hours? Make a sign for it. Tired of students using the emergency doors to leave school? Make a — you get it. On your next walk through of your facilities, create a list of signs that need to be made. No need to be fancy, a simple word document can do wonders.

2. Start fresh

Just like a student gets a spiffy new haircut before their first day of school, tidying up your facilities will help you start the school year in style. When you’re focused on big tasks like facility remodels or repairs, smaller tasks, such as organizing your janitorial supplies and closets, can get pushed further down your to-do list. It’s not too late to set aside some time to get your department ready to take on whatever the school year throws at you.

  • Organize the little things. Start with your desk and surrounding office space, then move on to your supply closets, custodial closets and any other storage areas that may need a little TLC. Rally your staff to help cut organizing time in half. Depending on your storage spaces this may be a daunting task, but the first step is to set aside as little as an hour a week just to get started. Break it down into small, actionable steps. For example, start by disposing of old inventory or cleaning supplies and making sure all their usage and safety information is visible. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even replace your cleaning supplies with their environmentally-friendly counterparts. To encourage easy maintenance of your freshly assembled space, label items and ask that your team abide by your new organizational set-up.

3. Whip your workflows into shape

While summer may symbolize freedom for students and teachers, most of us understand that work never takes a break. However, since your facilities are emptier than normal, summer is the ideal time to usher in a new era of facility management for your building(s). Facility management software provides incredible value to schools and implementing one now could gain you many opportunities to save on costs and improve your facilities. A good facility management software keeps work order, vendor activity, and inventory information in one place. Ideally, a facility management software system should take the stress of keeping track of maintenance duties and following up with work orders off your shoulders. With the extra time gained from using facility management software, our customers managing school facilities have been able to take on initiatives focused on making their schools the best learning environments they can be.

  • Kick off your search by documenting and prioritizing your school’s needs and areas for improvement. Many of our customers in school environments come to us with an unstructured work request system and are overwhelmed with keeping track of vendor activity and maintenance requests. Do thorough research to find a software system that fits your school’s criteria. Make ease-of-use a necessity — the more people feel comfortable navigating through your software solution, the more people will use it. For more information, check out our eGuide on selecting a facilities management system.
  • If facility management software is out of the question, brainstorm ways to improve the efficiency of your current work order, preventive maintenance, and event scheduling workflows. What are your three biggest holdups?Are your work orders getting lost every few weeks? Can your staff’s efficiency be improved? Maybe it’s time to reestablish your expectations of your team. Find solutions that fit within your workflow and test them out to see if they have a positive effect. Taking the summer to establish these new practices gives you a good window to work out any kinks and develop the best way to instruct others on your new procedures.

How Facilities Management eXpress (FMX) Can Help
FMX’s simple interface and powerful capabilities like work order and preventive maintenance management, event and transportation scheduling, and reporting and analytics are providing value to schools around the nation. We work with onsite single sign-on and allow unlimited users, making us a great fit for schools of any size. Click here for more information and to learn more about how K-12, higher education, and charter schools like yours have simplified their facilities management with FMX.

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Riana is the assistant marketing director at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not creating content or running the FMX customer community, she can be found doing crafts and drinking copious amounts of green tea.

 

Sources:
https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2003/2003347.pdf