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A Structured Parts Room

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Photos courtesy of Autowerkes Maine

The Solution: An organized parts storage method

The Inspiration: Voit Ritch, owner of Autowerkes Maine and an expert in shop layout and lean processes, has a background in engineering and is always looking for ways to maximize space. Determined to create an organized system for locating parts, Ritch created a system that would allow any person to go into the parts room and locate a part using an inventory sheet and numbered storage units.

What It Does: Once a part has been selected, the part number can be entered into the inventory system and the location information for that specific part will be pulled up on the computer. The location includes the specific cabinet, drawer and bin. For example, the part assigned 19B would be located in cabinet 19, drawer B. Smaller parts will include a bin location within the drawer. If someone is unfamiliar with the cabinet locations, there is a map posted on the wall that shows the layout. Tammy Moon, the shop’s office manager, makes sure that everything is where it should be.

How It’s Made: Ritch found re-purposed steel office files and cabinets at a government surplus auction for a good price and purchased some. The cabinets have drawers that the parts are stored in. The drawers come in various sizes, so bigger parts go in the bigger drawers and smaller parts go in the smaller drawers. Particularly small parts are placed in Ziploc bags within the drawers. Everything has a number. Each cabinet, drawer and Ziploc bag is labeled. “Any system is only as good as its maintenance,” says Ritch when talking about the upkeep. The system is constantly updated, he says, as new parts are added or more storage is added.

The Cost: The secondhand cabinets cost between $5 and $50 each, depending on the type and size. Adding units as he saw fit, Ritch has spent a few hundred dollars on stocking his parts room with cabinets.

The ROI: “You don’t have a person wasting time and money [to locate a part]. No delays,” says Ritch about the return on the organizational system. Because the room is so organized, the shop does not have a full-time parts person, which saves the shop the cost of an additional full-time employee salary. 


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