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System Outshines Spreadsheets in Stock Room Management

July 15, 2011
Maxim Integrated Products found that inventory control software outdoes paper in giving them a better handle on the whereabouts and status of thousands of parts worth millions of dollars.

Keeping track of an $8-million inventory of more than 14,000 parts, each ranging in from $0.20 to as much as $50,000 is both important and challenging. For Maxim Integrated Products, designers and manufacturers of integrated analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, these parts must be deployed quickly and accurately to keep expensive equipment operating. Maxim’s San Antonio production facility houses expensive equipment of its own to produce and test semiconductor wafers.

As a large manufacturer, Maxim Integrated Product’s inventory is constantly moving. At any given moment, a part may be removed from a stock room to repair equipment. When repairable parts break they are checked back in to the stock room then checked out to the repair vendor. When Javier Saenz joined Maxim as an inventory control specialist for the San Antonio facility, there were eight different departments with more than 130 people responsible for tracking the location and status of parts—using only Excel spreadsheets.

Maxim needed to ensure that inventory counts were accurately maintained and that no parts were lost. “Each department had numerous spreadsheets and their own process for tracking inventory,” notes Saenz. “This system proved to be time consuming and costly. It was nearly impossible to run accurate inventory reports, so we had a lot of redundant and overstocked inventory—tying up a lot of cash.”

Sacking the Spreadsheets

Charged with overhauling and updating Maxim’s inventory tracking system in San Antonio, Javier Saenz and his supervisor, Michael Suarez, researched inventory management solutions. Ultimately, Maxim Integrated selected Wasp Inventory Control Enterprise Edition.

Inventory Control was deployed slowly, starting with one small storage room. “We wanted to make sure that the product would work with our complex tracking needs,” Saenz noted. “Once we were comfortable with its capabilities, we rolled it out to the rest of the storage rooms.”

“The employees were skeptical at first, because they were content using the spreadsheet system—not realizing how counterproductive it really was,” says Saenz.

Convincing Results

Once Wasp’s Inventory Control was deployed in all eight stock rooms and all 14,000 parts were labeled with barcodes, Maxim saw instant results. “We discovered we were housing many parts that we didn’t need to keep in inventory. We were able to send those parts back to the vendors, share with other sites, or to one of our other U.S. manufacturing sites reducing the overall cost of our own inventory and freeing up a lot of cash and space,” Saenz noted.

In addition, Maxim Integrated Products reduced the down time of the manufacturing equipment. “If equipment breaks down, or goes down for preventive maintenance we can find the parts or consumables to bring the tool back up to production with the click of a button,” explained Saenz. “Ultimately, we’re bringing in more revenue since we’re able to keep our machines running 24/7.”

Maxim is also operating much more efficiently. “We’ve seen a 30% increase in stock room efficiency. We’re no longer digging through inaccurate spreadsheets to find one part. The system’s reports provide insightful information, quickly.”

After the success of the San Antonio facility’s deployment, Maxim’s four additional production facilities implemented the same system to achieve the same level of proficiency.

“Now that all of our production facilities are using Inventory Control, we are able to share parts,” Saenz concludes. “We have several parts that cost upwards of $50,000. “If we’re able to house one of those expensive items and share it, we have already saved $100,000 on just one part.”

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