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Vehicle Inventory Control, help

Joe_8 Member Posts: 32
To my respectected fellow tradesmen,

I manage a plumbing and heating operation with 15 vehicles.
While it is a simple matter to stock the vehicles, I would like your input as to how you may keep track of what material is on your vehicles on a daily basis. As you all know, the men, no matter how well intentioned do not always track their stock, and find themselves on a job needing items that should be on their vehicles, but were never replaced when they were used on a previous day.
Do tally sheets work? Who needs to inventory the vehicles and how often? What do you guys do that could help me get some control? I appreciate any and all tips and comments because I need some guidance. This is a problem that we all face and it is important to all our businesses.
Thanks, Joe


  • You might try what works for a one man shop

    Stock your trucks, document what's there, and whatever isn't there when you inventory (you decide how often) the truck operator buys to replace.

    Money is a powerful incentive. Whatever plan you choose takes willpower to stick with. The little things that don't seem worth counting when someone else pays for them won't seem so little when the mechanic himself has to replace them.

    If he gets to choose between writing it down, or buying it, I bet he writes it down. It worked on me!

  • Terry
    Terry Member Posts: 186

    I had my techs enter all material used on their job/work orders. These workorders would then be priced & converted to invoices.
    As I was going thru my paperwork & billing customers, I would also edit an excell database which would track truck inventory.
    on a weekly basis I would run the database to print out the discrepency between preffered & actual stock for each truck.
    This list would go out to suppliers to provide pricing/delivery and a stock order would be placed.

    I treated my service lockup (used for speciality and expensive components)as another truck & would replentish its stock as well.

    NOTE: the techs MUST note on their workorder whether they got it from their truck (T), the Service Lockup(S), or bought from a wholesale (W).

    Then twice a year we would empty out the vans & do a count check to make sure thiiings are upto par.

    Hope this helps...
    Time consuming at first, but once a routine is established, it becomes very easy.


  • Mark Walnicki
    Mark Walnicki Member Posts: 21
    Truck stock

    All new employess are issued "standard" truck stock for both tools and material. It is the employee's responsibility to submit requisitions on a daily basis for the parts they used during that day's work. If they get to the job, and do not have the part they need, and it should've been on the truck, "I forgot to re-order it" doesn't cut it, and they get an immediate verbal warning from their supervisor. Next time around they have to pay for it.

    As Noel mentions, money sure gets people's attention in a hurry. If your mechanic's are running around chasing down parts that should have been on their truck, their productivity and efficiency goes down. This not only reflects poorly in the customer's eyes, but their time and your technician's time could be better spent elsewhere.

  • Bill NTSG
    Bill NTSG Member Posts: 321
    Not exactly....

    the answer you were looking for, but what works for me. I tear the end flap off the cardboard box. If I use a waterfeeder ,hy-vent,ignitor,motor, control,etc. I throw the box ends with the part numbers on the dashboard and at the end of the day or first thing in the morning I go to the supply house and replace it. We are lucky , three supply houses and an electrical supply within a mile or so of the shop. Nozzles,I have many of each. I throw the cap in a coffee can and when it is time to restock I know what I need. Inventory is a necessary evil. It helps keep honest people honest. I disagree with making the tech having to pay for a part because he forgot to re-stock it. If it was lost or stolen maybe. If I use something off the company truck it is replaced in less than 24 hrs. Trust goes a long way . If you can't trust me, I won't work for you.
  • Hey Bill, I agree

    I only suggest buying a part that he "gave away", the ones that he put in his truck, but didn't sell or charge out in another way. In other words, what you said.

    I think the problem of not charging for or estimating how many elbows went in will go away.

    The biggest problem is that management usually finds it tough to stick with and make work. It takes actual time on a continuing basis. If you look around a little, you can find systems in place that work. Not all outfits make inventory control part of the strategy to keep costs in line so that wages and salaries can be high. I think it's worth it. It may attract a certain type of employee, as well. I've seen the other side, too. No inventory control. Some of their employees love it.......

  • billygoat22
    billygoat22 Member Posts: 124

    Our company restocks each truck in the morning before we go out. Each crew records what they used -down to each wire nut. Our boss also built shelves for each truck to store tools and materials. Also have aluminum shelves and "drawers" for each type task, like elec, so only make one trip. Beats buckets and heavy shelves, and you can put each thing in its place-each truck set up the same,too. complete inventory takes only an hour or two.
    shelving sold under name "service solutions", but can't say too much on inventory control system
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