WSU H2 Refuel Inventory System

Project Plan 2015.06.16

The purpose of WSU H2 Refuel’s inventory system is to facilitate maximum uptime of research and development operations. It is based on lean manufacturing practices originating from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Several lean practices are:

  • 5S (sort, sweep, etc.) – A philosophy that recognizes the far-reaching benefits of achieving and maintaining a world-class level of organization of materials and information. It requires understanding and commitment from every person involved thus must be part of the organizational culture and brand.
  • Kanban – This means “signal” and necessitates mechanisms be established in the reordering of consumables by means of establishing minimum order points (MOP).
  • Kaizen – continuous improvement; the goal of an effective inventory management system is not a state of perfection but is adaptability (see constructional law of thermodynamics).
  • Kaizen Event – a team activity for process improvement: brainstorming, decision-making, and implementation.
  • Kreitsu – Suppliers are viewed as partners rather than competitors
  • Just In Time – a philosophy and system for minimizing holding costs and outsourcing non-value-added activities.

Two priorities specific to WSU H2 Refuel are:

  • Locations – assignment, documentation, and utilization of locations for every piece of material (tools, parts, experiments, etc.) within the lab. This is the heart of 5S and requires creativity to implement efficiently by maintaining effectiveness while avoiding over-structure.
  • Labeling – This process ties the system together and offers relatively high return on investment of effort toward achieving higher states of 5S.

Development of meta-categories in which to classify specific items is the first step in this process. This structure then cross-references specific item locations with maps of the facility and provides the framework for labeling activities.