In a medical lab, keeping an accurate record of inventory items (supplies and equipment), their quantity, and location will ensure that things run smoothly and can prevent expensive mistakes. Some tips below will help you out!
Take Stock of Everything
Whether starting a new laboratory or just simply working to improve the inventory process, you need to take stock of everything to make sure every lab item is accounted for. You can do this the old-fashioned way using a pen & paper/spreadsheet or with software.
Assess the Current Stock
The next thing to do is evaluating which products are being used daily, in surplus, out of date, or expired, and locations where you lack items. This will help you in setting inventory thresholds and prevent stockouts in your lab.
Product Location and Assignment
Product location and assignment is usually the most important but most neglected parts of laboratory inventory management. Storing products in a way so that you can easily locate them later among hundreds of other items is sometimes a real challenge – especially when you have multiple locations.
To assign products to locations, the common way is to use barcoding. You can place a barcode location assignment on areas of your storage such as bins, cabinets, rooms, and even vehicles.
- when stocking products, you can create a barcode for each item and scanned it to its designated location
- when removing products, it is scanned out and will automatically be removed from your inventory.
Barcoding wins in terms of assigning products to locations and sometimes locating products. But what is the best way to look for a certain item in your laboratory in just a glance? It’s to look in a visual map of your inventory with a graphical representation of the actual location in your lab.
- by zooming into a location, you will see the contents of that location.
- by selecting an item, you will see the product details and its locations across your inventory map.
When you have multiple labs or have a mobile on the go, it’s best to have a system that can help you get more accurate and synchronized data in all locations. Being able to transfer products just by dragging and dropping between locations is a plus and a great way to save time and effort.
Challenges in managing a lab inventory are inevitable. What we need is to be smart and don’t stick to the things that we’re used to. The old-fashioned way of maintaining your inventory is still a thing but no longer that effective. Inventory Mapping is a brilliant thing that we never thought we needed.
How about you, how do you maintain control of your inventory?