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The Biggest Utility Inventory Storage Challenges

Inventory management is critical for the utility industry due to its unpredictability and continuous changes. Proper management of materials like utility poles is necessary for each service call, ensuring that vehicles and technicians are equipped with the appropriate items to complete their work. Utilizing traditional paper inventory tracking methods can be prone to errors, inefficiencies, and a lack of timeliness, resulting in manual updates that are both time-consuming and prone to inaccuracies.


Utility providers strive to deliver their services accurately and efficiently. To achieve this, it is crucial to maintain an organized inventory, with accurate information on inventory location, and proper loading of vehicles with necessary products to complete each job successfully.


What are the biggest utility inventory storage challenges? What are some effective ways to beat them?


Read this article to discover the answers to these questions so you can make utility inventory storage management a breeze to deal with.


Limited Visibility

Utility project managers might feel dread sinking in when they can not locate their inventory, even if the items should be in a secure storage space. That dread could be magnified if the missing inventory is immediately needed. A project can stall and fall apart.


Inefficient inventory and warehouse management practices can contribute to missing materials. While storage facilities must bear their responsibilities, project managers must also keep an eye on their inventory. If they do not, then they might find out necessary materials are missing with little time to adjust their plans. However, they sometimes partner with storage solutions that do not offer them access to up-to-date information regarding their inventory.


Project managers can overcome limited visibility by teaming up with a reliable storage company that supplies real-time data via a centralized inventory tracking system.


Inconsistent Tracking

Having deep visibility into inventory can reduce mishaps and delays. Having access to information is only the tip of the iceberg. Inventory data must be current and accurate. Using manual inventory management products and spreadsheets is time-consuming and risky. Human error can adversely affect an inventory level. A project manager can expect one thing and receive something else or nothing at all. Even inventory management software can run counter to its intended purpose if it is buggy and not designed by experts.


Project managers need a digital solution that they can rely on at all times. Using an inventory management system that is well-tested can help managers accurately track their materials with confidence.


Warehouse Efficiency

Utility project managers might find their inventory in the hands of inexperienced or incompetent warehouse management. Some storage facilities might promise superior service but fail at following common inventory management practices.


Managing inventory can be labor-intensive. Receiving and preparing materials for shipping are only two facets of the job. Timing deliveries and arranging available space are essential tasks that create inopportune situations when performed poorly. Manual inventory management procedures can be a disadvantage that can be alleviated with modern technology. Inventory managers who are not as skilled as others can also be a problem. Hiring capable managers can help facilities improve their inventory practices.


Warehouses and storage yards that improve inventory management can start from within. Learning effective storage methods can help them attract and keep new customers.


Poor Communication

Communication is crucial in nearly every field. Project managers and the inventory storage companies they use must be able to have clear lines of communication. Sharing information can help project managers identify problems before they grow out of proportion. Communication also goes both ways. Storage facilities must also be willing and ready to inform project managers about inconsistencies with their inventory.


Utility Pole Sizes

Utility poles are probably some of the most unwieldy objects utility workers handle. Aside from their weight, poles are overlength items that require extra care when transporting them from rail and material yards to storage facilities and job sites. Storing them requires having enough space to accommodate their lengths.


Multiple Projects Around the Country

A utility company might have active projects around the country. How can they keep up with their inventory storage if their resources are spread across the nation? The number and depth of challenges scale with the number of projects that need completing. Confusion can quickly grow if subpar inventory management is involved. Inventory that is needed in one place is on the other side of the country. Utility companies have to remain organized or their projects, and customers, could suffer.


Transportation Logistics

As previously mentioned, transporting utility poles can overwhelm unprepared teams. Poles and other bulky materials have to be carefully moved to and from storage. On top of that responsibility, obtaining the right trucks and scheduling drivers can prove stressful. Project managers can plan accordingly and stay on top of things, but one stroke of bad luck could delay everything. A sick driver or a truck breakdown could threaten the success of any project. Hiring a hauling company could remove the pain of transportation logistics.


Costs

The extra cost of storage might seem negligible. If you add the cost of the materials, transportation expenses, and labor, then a single project could exceed its budget. Storage fees might not seem so insignificant now. Forgoing inventory management and storage could cause items to go missing, which could cost a company more than money. Customers could turn away and look for another provider. Outsourcing utility hauling and storage can help reduce costs.


Blackwood Solutions' Inventory Storage and Management

Utility providers must excel at supply chain management. If they can not obtain the necessary materials to complete grid hardening and other projects, then infrastructure across the country could fail. Supply chains are only one part of the picture. Proper inventory control practices can guarantee that in-demand items are available when they are needed.


Small businesses can get by with manual inventory tracking, but utility providers must embrace more advanced methods to make sure they complete their projects. Keeping people connected to electricity and other services can maintain positive customer experiences. Happy customers can rely on their utility companies and remain loyal. Although utility providers do not have to predict customer orders, they have the onus of keeping the lights on.


Blackwood Solutions can help project managers like you overcome the challenges of inventory management. In addition to our hauling services, you can store your utility poles and other materials at our transload facilities. We have been a trusted resource for the utility industry since 2017. We know the hurdles that you must clear to ensure you uphold your company's commitment to excellence. We are constantly seeking new ways to help you do your job better. We continue to learn the best methods for securing and managing inventory, methods that we hope you find advantageous.


Contact us now to discover how we can work for you.


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