Utility projects are often labor-intensive affairs. Inventory management is one core part of projects to keep in mind. Keeping track of inventory levels means using inventory data to make sure the right materials are available for utility work. Inventory management solutions can improve inventory tracking and keep your project on track. Digital inventory management systems can increase inventory visibility, allowing project managers to know what they have on hand so work can commence when scheduled.
However, some managers and their utility companies still experience common inventory management challenges. Although maintaining safety stock can help offset the negative effects these challenges create, other solutions can prove more beneficial.
This article will explore some of the biggest utility inventory management challenges and the solution for defeating them.
Reliance on Distributors
Utility managers can not manage inventory they never received in the first place. Relying on distributors can prove quite challenging. With the recent COVID-19 public health emergency demonstrating the fragility of the world's supply chains, just ensuring project materials will arrive at a storage facility can cause headaches. Although project managers typically can not control distribution problems, they can follow the best inventory management practices to handle the items they do have.
Multiple Project Locations
Utility supply chain issues are not the only obstacles that project managers might face. One manager might be responsible for projects across several different parts of the country. For instance, a manager might have to oversee several jobs across the United States. Inventory may be stored at one or more locations, with projects in others. Keeping track of all of the different inventory, especially with various project timelines, is a major challenge. Coordinating all of the moving pieces of each project can prove overwhelming on top of having to track and manage inventory.
Managing several projects in various locations can be just one utility manager's responsibility. They have to supervise everything from their team's performance to material acquisition. Coordinating the logistics of each project can be too much for one person. Complex projects with many elements might require additional planning, which can take a manager from their other duties. They might forgo proper inventory tracking to take care of something else.
For example, they can expect a batch of utility poles to be available at a storage facility without any current information, just a shipment order that marked the poles as received. If their team arrives at the facility and finds the poles are not there, then work can stall. The project manager might miss a deadline because they were too busy focusing on other aspects of their job.
Utility Pole Sizes
Utility poles are often difficult to move. Their weight and length make them extra unwieldy. Utility teams must take special care when transporting and handling them. Transporting them usually requires permits and pilot cars, which can translate to more expenses and possibly more hassles. Storing them also requires space considerations.
Clear and frequent communication is critical in personal and professional relationships. Utility project managers must not only maintain communication with inventory storage facilities but also with their teams. If a particular item is not available, then the storage facility should inform the manager who can then tell the crew.
Lack of communication between any parties is a major concern. It may result in the crew showing up at the facility and leaving empty-handed, wasting their time and delaying work. Communication breakdowns are relatively easy to avoid with vigilance and openness. Managers can use inventory management software to stay in direct contact with their materials.
Manual Inventory Tracking
Using physical documents for inventory tracking can be just as problematic as choosing a storage facility that lacks effective communication practices. Paperwork can get lost. Getting replacement forms can take too much time if a deadline is quickly approaching. An automated inventory tracking system can eliminate paperwork. Project managers can access their systems to pull up the information they need. Plus, paperwork does not update itself. An automated utility inventory system can provide real-time data that keeps managers on top of their materials at all times.
A project manager juggling any number of projects must deal with the expenses related to each job. If they need utility poles transported to a location, then they might need to rent a truck and appropriate equipment to accomplish that task. They might also need to hire additional workers if none are readily available. Even if they hire a hauling company that can load, deliver, and unload poles, what if they need a storage facility to keep the poles until they are needed?
Storage is one more expense and sometimes it means dealing with another company, which can create communication problems. The cost of hiring separate parties to haul, store, and manage inventory can not only strain a budget, but create other issues. Partnering with a hauling company that can provide utility storage and management can be a cost efficiency that solves problems instead of creating them.
Blackwood Solutions' Utility Inventory Management
Utility inventory management can be just as grueling as the physical labor that goes into each backbreaking project. If you are responsible for that task, then you might know how stressful it can be. If you can not acquire the necessary materials to complete your projects, then you can not serve your company's customers how they expect to be served.
Blackwood Solutions can be your one-stop for utility pole hauling and inventory management. From storage to delivery, we make sure your materials get to your job site. Our experienced team can handle nearly every step of getting what you need so you can complete your project as scheduled. You do not have to get in touch with a transport company and a separate storage facility. We can keep your materials secure until you need them. At that point, we can safely and promptly deliver them.
We can give you a cost-effective, reliable solution to your utility inventory issues. You can leverage our efficiencies to optimize your workflows. Work can occur as planned. Projects can end as promised. Your company's customers can stay connected to the utilities they rely on.
Contact us now to find out how we can help you overcome the biggest utility inventory management challenges.