16 October 2016
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Managing consumable supplies in industrial environments

In any industrial environment, having key consumable items available when and where they are needed can make all the difference between smooth, uninterrupted production and costly unanticipated downtime with all its associated issues. Employees dependent on specific equipment, supplies and materials to do their jobs can spend significant time searching for these items, resulting in a substantial loss of productivity. A new solution from Apex Supply Chain Technologies is now addressing these issues, with a measurable difference to the bottom line.

In any factory or processing environment there are numerous consumable items which organisations require in order to operate safely and effectively day-to-day.

While only some equipment may be deemed ‘mission critical’, availability of consumable stock in general has a huge impact on the efficiency of a site. Running out of consumable items can become particularly problematic when companies are reliant on manual distribution, counting and auditing processes.

Employees who are dependent on specific equipment, supplies and materials to do their jobs can spend inordinate amounts of time searching for these items, resulting in a substantial loss of productivity for their company.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one example which, if not managed correctly, can not only negatively affect operational efficiency but can even have dire consequences. In the event of individuals using the wrong PPE consumables or no PPE materials at all, safety could be jeopardised. Employers ultimately have a responsibility to their employees firstly by making materials and supplies available and accessible, but also in ensuring it is used, and used correctly.

Similarly, the unavailability of a key production consumable – even a low-value item - can impact significantly on overall productivity. Even one item not readily available when it should be, can result in unplanned production downtime. Running out of a production consumable has potentially significant commercial ramifications in terms of missed order deadlines, reputational damage and even an effect on potential repeat business.

The ultimate goal for a business should therefore be for vital consumables to always be available to workers where and when they need them.

For many businesses, operating an open stores policy is deemed to be the best way of ensuring staff can access the required consumables. However, while unrestricted access may seem like the best solution, in reality it presents a number of highly challenging issues. When freely available, people have a tendency to take more than they need as part of a ‘just in case’ scenario. This leaves little to none for others, frequently with no notification of the stock-out to those that need to reorder those items. This scenario may also lead to a loss of productivity as other individuals leave their tasks to go in search of items that may not be there.

Meanwhile the lack of a reliable documenting process means there may be no trackable usage patterns or traceability. Many businesses are dependent on manual counting processes, which leaves room for human error.

With this in mind, Apex Supply Chain Technologies, the leading provider of intelligent, automated dispensing solutions, has launched a new smart Kanban system to manage consumable stock and replace the need for manual counting, flags, labels and cards.

ActylusTM smart bin technology has been designed to provide a solution to stock replenishment issues, sending automated stock alerts and re-order notifications to suppliers to eliminate the need for counting trips, safety stock and emergency orders. It aims to keep lines up and running, boost supply chain productivity and grow bottom-line revenues.

Powered by TrajectoryTM Cloud, a secure analytics and inventory management platform that integrates and connects to existing in-house systems, the Actylus smart bin system improves productivity, visibility, reliability and accessibility throughout a business operation. The cloud-based platform is able to monitor the smart bin solution to see when items need restocking, simultaneously tracking usage patterns and trends through a reporting system. Stock levels can even be checked via phone or email anytime, and anywhere.

The Actylus automated replenishment system is available in a range of system configurations, and is capable of storing and monitoring any item traditionally kept in bins, from electrical components to PPE and healthcare supplies. It is fast and easy to set up, and interior lights keep bin contents visible to ensure swift selection.

Julian Adams, Managing Director at Apex Supply Chain Technologies, commented: "We have launched the new Actylus smart replenishment solution to resolve the common issue of inefficiency across several industries and applications. Automated low-supply alerts will reduce the cost and time to stock bins by 30 percent or more, significantly improving productivity and efficiency in a business."

For more information about Apex Supply Chain Technologies, go to http://www.apexsupplychain.com/gb/feature/actylus-2/, email info.eu@apexsupplychain.com, or call 0800 840 4776.

Phil Glover

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Apex Supply Chain Technologies Ltd


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