Five signs that availability of critical assets is hurting productivity

2nd November 2016

Apex Supply Chain Technologies Ltd will be on Stand 108 at IntraLogisteX 2017

There are certain assets that lie at the beating heart of any organisation, so when management of these critical assets is not up to scratch, it will be detrimental to productivity and the business operation overall.

Historically, process improvements and cost saving initiatives have been focused on production and service delivery, with little attention paid to support systems such as the provision of the tools and equipment needed for operations to run smoothly. Getting the management of these mission-critical assets right will eliminate time spent locating functioning tools resulting in more efficient businesses overall.

Julian Adams, Managing Director of Apex Supply Chain Technologies Ltd, talks through five key signs that assets are not being properly managed that every operations manager should look for.

1.    Time away from task
It is not uncommon for workers to leave their primary work area to retrieve a tool or an asset that they need to do their job. The time away could be a few minutes but it could also be much longer, depending on the size of the premises and availability of equipment.

In much of industry, there are two people involved in the acquisition of the equipment –the person using it and a manager or a stores operator who has to sign out the kit. The equipment allocation process does not add any value to the operation and in fact often detracts from high-value duties, highlighting a key area for efficiency improvement.

2.    Search for missing critical assets
On arrival to work, the ideal scenario is for all employees to have critical equipment charged and ready for operation. In situations where equipment is not available to hand out, jobs can be dramatically delayed.  To determine the cost to a business of missing, misplaced and not-ready-for-use equipment, the following calculation can be used:

Time in minutes for an employee to travel to and locate required equipment x the number of trips per year x the average pay per hour of those in this position.

3.    Delayed jobs and services
If a worker can’t do their job due to the correct equipment being unavailable, there is a knock-on effect for the whole production process. In a warehouse environment this could mean delays to order deliveries and disgruntled customers. For an operative working in the automotive sector, it could mean delays to a maintenance programme leading to equipment downtime and manufacturing delays, which cost hundreds of thousands per hour.

4.    Elevated labour costs and overtime
When a job isn’t completed within the required window, businesses will often see a sharp spike in overtime expenses. For some businesses, this can lead to the recruitment of temporary staff, who often operate at a higher wage level and require additional safety and job training – a further cost to the business.

5.    Increase in unplanned costs for processes, orders and services
When production times shift, so too do other factors, such as shipment costs, particularly when there is a deadline to meet. Where additional costs are mounting on the balance sheet, the knee-jerk response is to look for a new supplier when the cause can often be much closer to home.

A lack of control over critical assets, will have a trickle-down effect on other productivity initiatives, which may not be fully realised. The solution, though, is fairly simple. Just as self-service cash machines revolutionised the banking sector, self-service asset management is doing the same for industry through the use of automated locker systems, positioned strategically near the point of use.

Equipment can be checked in and out through the automated system, which is both secure and easy to implement and support. Distribution can be controlled and determined on a case-by-case basis, meaning that every operative can have their own profile, identifying each and every piece of equipment they require to do their jobs. Only those profiles programmed to have access to certain pieces of equipment can retrieve those items – ensuring a high degree of control and compliance.

Furthermore, systems can be designed to lock down assets that are due for calibration, service or inspection – ensuring that no piece of kit is released from the locker until it is in optimum condition. Businesses can also ensure that equipment is replenished when stock runs low, recording each and every dispense and logging the data.

Long gone are the days when equipment was signed out of the storeroom using a simple sign-out and sign-in sheet. With automation, businesses have full visibility, control and traceability for all their assets day-in and day-out.

For more information about Apex Supply Chain Technologies, please visit, email, or call 0800 840 4776


Press enquiries to:
Rebecca Lawlor / Tom Leatherbarrow / Hannah Mason
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Notes to Editors:
Worcester-based Apex Supply Chain Technologies Ltd is the European headquarters and subsidiary of Apex Industrial Technologies LLC, the world’s leading provider of intelligent, automated dispensing systems for the industrial, retail and service sectors. Apex installed solutions have executed more than 3 billion automated dispensing transactions for thousands of customers around the world. These include more than 300 companies from the Blue Chip 500 list of companies with the highest turnover. Apex CEO and founder, Kent Savage, is an internationally renowned expert in the field of automated dispensing and technology solutions. Apex has offices in Australia, Columbia, Germany and the United Kingdom and is headquartered in the United States.