Material Inventory Management

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Measuring and Improving Productivity in the Clinical Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

Learn more about Measuring and Improving Productivity in the Clinical Laboratory (online CE course)
Material Inventory Management

Inventory management of reagents and supplies is important for maximizing productivity. By implementing real-time automated consumption tracking, checkout, and ordering of reagents and consumables, personnel time will not be lost in manually tracking and inventorying those materials. In addition, the chance of running out of materials and thus creating testing delays, additional ordering expenses for rush orders, and hospital staff (physicians/nurses) dissatisfaction will be minimized. Also, automating inventory management eliminates or greatly reduces the chance for time-sensitive reagents and materials to expire before use.
Implementing convenient, well-organized storage with easy-to-access materials, whether at room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen, adds to better productivity. Implementing a barcode system for material management is therefore considered a productivity measure. When stocking your supply orders, correlating barcodes can be applied to the product and scanned into their appropriate locations. Whenever an item is removed for any reason, it is scanned out and the stocking level is automatically removed from inventory, allowing the tracking of stocking levels and locations easily and quickly.
When automation is not available due to the cost and size of the laboratory not warranting the expense, a simple hand-written map showing the layout of the storage area and materials in it can be quite effective. Keeping a spreadsheet posted to manually add and subtract supplies as they are used can be helpful. This can be created on your computer using an Excel spreadsheet. An example spreadsheet is demonstrated in the image.