Shop hardware stocking vendor

I've seen in a few different places hardware racks and bins where a vendor keeps the supply stocked. My partner and I spend too much time
digging through assorted piles of crap looking for common hardware, and it's really annoying me. The cost of the part is piddling compared to the cost of our time. What are some of the folks that do this, what is it called, and can anyone offer me some pros and cons of having this done? Are there any folks in the Seattle area that do this (I know there is, just don't know who) and are there any recommendations for one or the other?
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Carl McIver wrote:

Perhaps shopping here may be advantageous:
http://tinyurl.com/yhd4nm
Dan
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Excellent!
Maybe the old Boeing surplus has dried up out in Renton.
Cheers,
Fred
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Did I miss something? These are books on college english. After rereading my message a couple times, the reason for that has me befuddled.
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Carl McIver wrote:

I think it was a smarmy comment on the sentence structure of the OP's question.
Nothing really helpful or useful.
To my eye, the OP has two problems. One is houskeeping, the other is that he does not have a well organised area for his consumables.
For the houskeeping, I'd suggest a cold hearted look at what is laying about the place, and some time spent organising it, or disposing of it.
Bolt bins are available full or empty, and common hardware is cheap in boxes of a hundred. A couple bolt bins of matched up hardware, and a couple pre printed faxable order forms and stocking issues are dealt with before coffee. A couple empty bolt bins set up with special hardware can deal with commonly used small items, other than nuts and bolts stuff.
I have dealt with consumption point style bins with min and max quantities, maintained by people within our large organisation. In some situations that can work, but it is smoother if someone with a knowledge of the usage (both normal and unusual) has a hand in, so that you don't end up running perpetually short of some items, or not have enough on hand when you need them for a big job.
I can only see a vendor managed system like this working economically, if the vendor is going to see profit through high prices, high volume, or both. $$$
Cheers Trevor Jones
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I can be boring and not get my point across. Ar Ah cain tawlk lak Ah got me a pubik schewl edukashun. Your pick.
I'll drop the topic there; no need to stir the pot any further.

I took this job this summer, and in the process I inherited a sort of a warehouse area with stuff in tub skids and on pallets, and no suitable shelving. The few cabinets were full of stuff that last got sorted out in 1993, most of which has no use to our current work. I'm about halfway through it all, sending out a ton of stuff to the trash pile and staging even more to head out to our surplus site after everyone else gets to pick through it. Making good progress, but I can only do so much if I don't have any shelving to sort keepable stuff onto.

Exactly what I'm doing, all the while keeping several other projects going at the same time. My boss is sitting on a list of storage racks and such that I want, getting ready to submit a request for money to get this and pay for consolidating another lab into ours. Those wheels are turning slow, but I want to be able to look over the numbers and see if it will all fit, or I just need to sit down and try to figure out how to set up something myself.

I work for a really f'ing big company, but our organization is a hole in the wall in a dark corner, for the most part. Most folks here have been here a long time, and it wasn't until I asked to have the briars growing over the fence cleared did it finally dawn on them that the whole damn place wasn't far from overgrown. So I have to say that I've been able to nudge into motion some good things, but I don't know how much I can push. Then again, shortly after I hired in I asked a few questions and the response to every one was: "Whatever you think you have to do." The hard thing is that we use lots and lots of different things in R&D. Hardware in sizes from 4-40 to 1" and up (in steel, brass, nylon, and stainless, and now, metric!) with wires in our lab ranging in size from 36 ga to what they call locomotive cable, which I haven't had the pleasure of working with yet, and all kinds of signal cabling in between. Every day it's something different, and I hate waiting for several days for someone with the checkbook to get the stuff I need, then waiting for even longer for it to arrive. My boss mentioned getting my partner and I that card, but I won't believe it until I see it, as he's a really, really busy guy. At any rate, the fellow I replaced and the other tech with me didn't seem to think too much about using the right hardware (or tools made for the job!) so I'm gently trying to change the culture. Being the new guy, there's only so hard I can push and prod.

If I were to start with the basics that every small hardware store has, that would be a great start for me!

I got a call into Bowman, from Barnes Distributors, and hopefully their rep can help me put a proposal together. Wish me luck.

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Carl McIver wrote:

WoW!
Much clearer picture!
I feel for you, too!
Sounds to me like you need a couple guys on there full time just on the logistics side of things. I have been party to a couple rationalizations of parts and supplies when shops have merged. Theres a plain shitpile of work in something like that, and that work pales in comparison to starting fron chaos.
Vidmar bins! I like open storage, but none of it can store the volume and variety of parts that you can store in a couple vidmars, if you have to deal with small stuff a lot.
Of course organising and having such a treasure trove is only half the battle. the other half is keeping it organised in use, so that it does not turn into chaos-inna-box!
Good luck! Sincerely!
Cheers Trevor Jones
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Actually, when the project it all came from shut down somewhere around 1990, millions of dollars worth of really expensive stuff (really big free electron laser project that burned through millions. Shoulda started small then worked their way up. Electron beam quality was a subject not well understood at the time, but having started big, problems were that much harder to solve. Now they're using what's called a COIL laser mounted to a 747 to do the same thing. Still a big project, but the issues had all been addressed on a smaller scale first) headed for the door, and lots of people spent a lot of time sorting out and inventorying thousands of parts. I figure they keps about a quarter of it all, and of that I'm having to decide what's keepable and what's not. I just threw what was once several thousands of dollars worth of 74 series IC chips in several boxes and put it all on the outgoing pile. Some customer at Surplus Sales is going to be one very happy person finding that enormous trove of hobby treasure. That was just _one_ cabinet! I'm getting there, it will just take awhile. Hopefully I'll have it mostly done progress before I get told it all has to be cleared out in a week, meanwhile there's other hot projects burning up my hours at the time.

So I really like Vidmars, to a certain degree. Well laid out is excellent, but my problem with them is the same problem common to all drawers. It's too easy just to toss crap in the drawer, shove it closed, and put the mess out of your mind. I'm guilty of it probably more than many of us, too. Have a look at my garage! I like Akro bins, where you can move stuff around without handling the hardware, but they also have their problems such as spillage and breaking. That was the thinking that had me build a tool rack for my garage last summer that was made of vertical panels mounted to drawer slides. Took up a two foot square footprint, carries a gob of tools no rollaway could, kept things reasonably arranged, and prevented me from just throwing something in there. Shouldn't have used strandboard, though, which was a bad ecomomic decision at the time. Can't keep a nail too well for hanging stuff up. I need to do another one, but do it better next time, assuming I can find the time.

I actually enjoy engaging my curiosity about what's what and where, and what it might have been for, but the sheer volume is intimidating. There's so much of it I can't seem to be able to work one spot all the way through to the end, but I sorta do a little here and a little there. I find more stuff and where I can organize it better, but it takes me longer. I like having lots of stuff to pick from when figuring out how to do a project that has to get done right away but there's no time for someone to run off to the store and get me what I need, but how many folks need a box full of itty bitty boxes with a BNC connector and a switch on it? I've got piles of little Acopian 5 volt 30 milliamp supplies, and power supplies I won't get rid of. I had done a project at my previous shop that I reduced the quantity of hardware we had in the area for production (I used to wire up 767's,) put stuff where it needed to be, had provisions for easy maintenance (even when gone for seven months I came back to a system that almost maintained itself!) saved a ton of time chasing parts, and so on and so forth. It required a lot of knowledge of our processes (ten years in the same area helps a bit) and a reasonably stable process, but it was a great success, and still is in my absence, I believe. In my current job, stability is a term we use when discussing hardware and system quality, and can never be applied to our job itself. Every day is something new, which I like a lot. Just about every hobby, job, and skill I've ever had, from heavy equipment, electronics, robotics, automotive, aviation, industrial electrical, weighing systems, industrial ink jets, and so, has had an impact on this job and how I do it. I didn't know anything about extreme magnetics, cryogenics, high temperatures, superconductivity, particle accelerators, or other weird shit like that when I started, so I didn't start completely in the know, either. How to decide what to put where is one of those great unknowns, too, and that's a tough one that will take me the rest of my career to figure out. It'll be fun regardless of how it turns out, that I know for sure.

Thanks, and I really mean that. I wish more folks had jobs as cool as this one. Got off my antidepressants, too!

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Carl McIver wrote:

"college english"? The title just swished right over your head, didn't it? No wonder you can't find anything, if you think what you originally posted was a model of clarity, you have a very untidy grasp of written composition.
Dan
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know
befuddled.
I didn't have any problems figuring out what he wanted. Did you?
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Dave Lyon wrote:

Really? Don't be bashfull, share your figuring.
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Dan wrote:

I didn't either (have any problem understanding the OP). If you're going to be serious about grammar policing, you're going to be busy. There are some post'ers here who are nearly incoherent. So bad that I generally just skip their posts rather than try to figure out what they're saying. Bob
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I couldn't keep from weighing in on this, despite that buttwipe on one shoulder advising me otherwise.
Actually, I didn't go to college, other than a very painful but passing whack at calculus 101, but my wife and I are pushing my kids to go and do better. Without a good education, or the right breaks in life, you can wind up with a painful life of surgeries to correct occupationally incurred issues, such as bad knees, shoulders (one chopped on already, the other I'm trying to hold off with this new job) and so on, which many of us are painfully aware of. Despite the dubious "handicap" of not having a college education, I do consider my writing skills to be much better than a whole lot of college students and other far= more educated folks. I've read enough crap put out by highly educated but nonetheless illiterate ignoramuses (not speaking of iggy!) to know better. While when I wrote the original message I knew it was a bit long, but for those who can retain the entire sentence in their brain by the time they get to the period at the end, it's actually readable and clear enough that I felt I made my point with less wordage than I could have. I'm known for getting wordy, too. As an opening post, I didn't feel the need to explain myself more than necessary, because lengthy explanations cause folks to skip over the issue without offering any thoughts. I don't think anyone will have an issue with that. If anyone does, I'd like to hear about it, so we can all dissect the sentiment. And I can take it, as I've put up with far worse. I'm also in a good mood!
BTW, I won't criticize anyone else's composition ability unless they put themselves up on a wobbly pedestal trying to show themselves as being holier than thou.
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What you wrote was fine. I recently reviewed several resumes from candidates with master's degrees and was appalled by obvious and numerous spelling and grammatical errors. These candidates were born in America and went to fairly good schools.
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You might think so until you get the bill from Lawson or Winzer! Convenient, but costly, and you still may not have the nut or bolt you need.
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Ever considered sorting out that crap????
--

Clif



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Check with your nearest FASTENAL store. They may even supply the bins if the volume is there.
There is an outfit called MIDWEST FASTENER that does all the hardware at the local farm supply store. They do the stocking, maintain the inventory levels, etc. Their stuff is not cheap, but there is a bunch of variety.
If it's just nuts and bolts, check with the local fastener companies. Most of them have outside sales people on established routes.

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Carl
Tacoma Screw advertises that it keeps bins stocked. I've got no experience with the service though. Give them a call and see what the deal is.
Jim
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    --One of the 'technical' terms for this are "rack jobbers"; i.e. a company with a line of products brings a rotating rack with all of their line on it, then periodically reappears to restock, so that the shopkeeper's duties are simply to sell the stuff and be done with it. Rack jobber probably tracks sales via barcode or some such.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : There's never a tachikoma
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : around when I need one!
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it's

cost

That's what you will believe until you experience the "Premier Push" - the practice of pushing the nuts/bolts to the back of the bin in order to make it look as though you need another box of 100.
Just imagine a truck shop with more than 500 1/4-20 nuts in the bins....
Then, there is the "appreciation programs" in which your shop foreman receives points for every one of YOUR dollars he spends with the company.
Guess who pays for THAT?
Been there....Done that.
Now, once a month, I inventory my hardware and put in an order locally - buying no more and no less than *I* believe I'll need - not what the vendor believes he needs to sell me.
Also, dealing locally, I can easily head down to the store and pick up anything I might have run out of - long before the order-writing buffoon from Premier, Lawson, Kent, Bowman, etc. shows up again.
Vendor managed inventory may work in some applications, but most vendors do not have a clue as to what is scheduled in your shop, or what your needs are - other than how many nuts and bolts you currently have in your bins.....period.
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