Effective inventory management is essential for the success of any laboratory. It enables you to maintain the perfect levels of stock, reduce costs, and enhance operational efficiency.
When you’re handling a large team of researchers and managing several projects at once, having a great inventory management system allows you to focus on other aspects of your laboratory. You can have peace of mind knowing that your stocks will never run through and your staff will have everything that they need for high-quality research.
In this article, we’re going to cover what inventory management is, why it’s important, and how you can optimize inventory management in your laboratory.
What is Laboratory Inventory Management?
You may already know what laboratory inventory management is but if not, don’t skip this section of the article!
Laboratory inventory management is exactly what it sounds like. It refers to the process of managing the stock (or inventory) in your lab. The overarching aim of inventory management is to ensure your staff always has all of the resources that need for their research.
Why is Laboratory Inventory Management Important?
Effective laboratory inventory management is essential for any lab, whether you’re working on drug development, gene therapy, or cancer research. It can:
- Maximize efficiency and productivity
- Reduce costs
- Prevent stock losses
- Increase staff satisfaction
- Improve the accuracy of results
- Increase health and safety
When you manage your inventory correctly, you can ensure that you always have the most up-to-date inventory in your lab. You can make sure that you never run out of essential equipment, chemicals, solutions, and PPE.
Your lab inventory management prevents you from overbuying or underbuying stock, which saves time and money. It makes it easier for you to monitor where your stock is being used and identify if any goes missing.
Top Tips to Improve Your Laboratory Inventory Management
Follow the tips below to maximize the efficiency of your lab inventory management.
- Use Great Inventory Management Software
It’s always advisable to use strong software when you’re trying to manage the inventory of a large laboratory. The software makes it easy to organize your stock and notice when you’re running low on certain items in the lab.
Some software has built-in modules that enable you to order inventory directly through the platform. Many also have invoicing modules to track your payments and budget. You can streamline your ordering processes, and save time and money doing it manually.
When deciding on the best digital tool to manage your inventory, it’s worth looking at an ELN and LIMS comparison. There are pros and cons to both options, so make sure to do plenty of research when choosing between the two.
Switching to a digitalized method of inventory management reduces errors and enables you to automate the process. You can quickly adjust your stock when necessary.
- Create a Stock List
Every effective lab inventory management system starts with creating a stock list. When you know exactly what your lab staff requires to complete their work, you’ll know what, how much, and how often to order certain items.
Creating an extensive stock list can make it easier for you to:
- Identify when stock is low
- Accurately forecast and plan your stock demands
- Easily audit your stock every month
With the ongoing advancements in technology and science, your stock demands may change. You’ll need to evaluate your stock list regularly so you can meet any changes in stock demands.
- Assess Maximum and Minimum Stock Levels
Once you have assessed all of the stock that you currently have in your laboratory, you need to identify the maximum number of each item that you can hold in your laboratory without overstocking. You’ll also need to consider the minimum levels of stock that you need for your lab to operate efficiently.
To successfully identify your maximum and minimum stock levels, you’ll need to collaborate with your laboratory staff. Since they’re working with the equipment and solutions in your lab on a daily basis, they will know exactly what is required for maximum productivity.
Consider the products that your staff use every day. These items will need to be restocked frequently. It’s worth ordering a little more than needed to make sure you always have backup stock if there have been major errors during an experiment or analysis.
However, you must also make sure that you don’t order too much stock to the point where you can’t house it in your storage cupboards. Surplus stock can get in the way of your staff, reducing productivity and efficiency. It can also increase your daily expenses.