Inventory Management, or... "Where did I put that?"

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  • September 05, 2011 2:18 PM
    Message # 692534
    I'm in the process of creating an Inventory Management System for Drifter, in order to help keep track of everything while I'm off cruising. Even in my workshop at home (my used-to-be-workshop in my use-to-be-home), it seemed that I spent half my total work-time trying to find a specific tool, supply, etc. I can only imaging the challenge I'll face when everything is stuffed into a boat of approximately 4% of the total square footage!

    The final system will be database-driven and allow the reallocation of an item category from one locker to another with a single drag-n-drop. The application will depend upon first identifying each storage location, then assigning locations to item categories. Although the app requires the installation of a database and web server running on the laptop, it occurred to me that the base template might be useful to others, for a manually-run system.

    Although the template isn't completed, I'm posting a thumbnail of it here, to see if others might find it helpful. If there's interest, I can provide a copy of the final, full-size template, once it's finished.

    Jack

    UPDATE: The attached template has bee updated with the final version. See the demo at http://highseasdrifter.net/Inventory_Mgmt/ to get a full-size copy of the image, plus the Compartment List details.
     





    Last modified: September 11, 2011 9:25 AM | Anonymous member
  • September 06, 2011 11:16 AM
    Reply # 693157 on 692534

    Jack,

    Thanks for offering the locker storage system to the membership. I would love to have a copy when you are finished with it. I recently found a piece of teak I stored some months ago after tearing apart most of the lockers looking for it. I keep an inventory in a notebook but hardly ever update it when I move stuff around. Your system (computerized) would make that little chore much easier.

    Werner

  • September 09, 2011 2:52 PM
    Reply # 695649 on 693157
    Werner Hamp wrote:

    Jack,

    Thanks for offering the locker storage system to the membership. I would love to have a copy when you are finished with it. I recently found a piece of teak I stored some months ago after tearing apart most of the lockers looking for it. I keep an inventory in a notebook but hardly ever update it when I move stuff around. Your system (computerized) would make that little chore much easier.

    Werner


    It looks like you and I are the only ones who find organization aboard a boat to be a challenge!

    You can view a demo of the Inventory Manager at the following link. I would guess it's a little more that half-way completed. When finished, it will be extremely easy to reassign items from one area to another, with a single mouse-click (and a second one to confirm, if desired). You will also be able to click on a compartment and get a list of everything it contains, or search for an item by name or keyword and find all matching items and where they are stored.

    Note that the template is very specific to my boat, which is a standard layout, but with some additional storage areas added.


    Jack
    Last modified: September 09, 2011 5:18 PM | Anonymous member
  • September 09, 2011 5:24 PM
    Reply # 695719 on 692534
    Deleted user
    What a great job - thank you- I'm very interested in this cool idea.The only suggestion I  would make is you might have a category OTB- off the boat- for tools and other  gear that might be loaned out,  stored elsewhere or being repaired. If this were a separate category then with a quick look one could check to see if any essential item needs to be fetched and to insure all safety items are on board before we head out. Thanks again
     Bob 
  • September 09, 2011 5:36 PM
    Reply # 695724 on 695719
    Bob Meade wrote:What a great job - thank you- I'm very interested in this cool idea.The only suggestion I  would make is you might have a category OTB- off the boat- for tools and other  gear that might be loaned out,  stored elsewhere or being repaired. If this were a separate category then with a quick look one could check to see if any essential item needs to be fetched and to insure all safety items are on board before we head out. Thanks again
     Bob 

    Ooooh... that is a cool thought. How much gear have we all lost because we forgot who borrowed it? I would think that it would be best NOT to add a new storage location, but simply to add an "on loan" parameter, with notes for dates and details.

    Adding a new storage area takes a great deal of time and effort. I don't know if you noticed, but the popup that shows the compartments has a link that allows you to slide up or down to switch between Port and Starboard views, since you can't put all 3-dimensional compartments on a 2-dimensional graphic. With over 60 storage compartments, displayed on 4 blueprint views, there are over 240 images that had to be individually image-mapped before I could program what the selections actually did.

    When it's finished, it will be a simple matter to add/change/delete storage categories. This would be an easier way to track "on loan", but I think that still might be better handled another way, as described above. Let me know if you think of other special situations that might be of use as well... perhaps "off for repair", "in need of repair/rebuild", "need's replacement", etc.

    Jack
  • September 10, 2011 5:08 AM
    Reply # 695969 on 692534
    Deleted user

    Hi Jack

    Great work!  have just purchased a Westsail 32 (# 90) and using the line drawings developed a much simpler inventory system. I would appreciate a copy of yours when it is completed as I don't have the skills to create anything near to it.

    In my version I also added columns for quantity, minimum/maximum required and expiry/test date (flares, EPIRB, inflatable vests etc.)

    Jeff

  • September 10, 2011 6:38 AM
    Reply # 695994 on 695969
    Jeff Graham wrote:

    Hi Jack

    Great work!  have just purchased a Westsail 32 (# 90) and using the line drawings developed a much simpler inventory system. I would appreciate a copy of yours when it is completed as I don't have the skills to create anything near to it.

    In my version I also added columns for quantity, minimum/maximum required and expiry/test date (flares, EPIRB, inflatable vests etc.)

    Jeff


    Thanks, Jeff... and welcome to the Westsail family!

    For my own version, I wasn't planing to track individual items, only item categories. For example, I might have a grouped item named "Emergency Signaling" in a category of "Safety Equipment",  but not track any more detail than that. The thought was the tracked item(s) would be in a small bin (like a plastic shoebox, or a tool bag) that I could collectively move from one location to another.

    Having said that, I think your inclusion of quantity, minimum/maximum required and expiry/test date applies quite nicely to things like flares, EPIRB, inflatable vests etc. That's certainly worth a consideration, as it's simple enough to add more columns to the database and printouts. And it wouldn't require additional image-mapping for the template. I'll have to think about that one!

    Thanks for your input. It's always interesting to hear how others tackle the same problem.  As a new owner, you will no doubt have a great many questions. Since we no longer have access to the forum archives on the WOA site, you might find this link extremely useful when you need to find answers to how others have dealt with similar problems. As of this message, there were 2,348 threads and 11,905 posts than can be easily and efficiently searched for keywords. I'm sure you'll find it helpful...


    Jack
  • September 10, 2011 6:55 AM
    Reply # 696003 on 692534
    Good idea, Jack. We also have an inventory, but it's kept in a notebook with a two-laminated-page diagram of all compartments listed with numbers, similar to yours. Then on subsequent pages is a hand-written listing of what's in each area. This lives in the nav table.

    Because my father and I often use the boat at different times, we were running in to the issue of one person moving something and not telling the other, rather than forgetting where things were. With the notebook, it's easy to update, and if someone new comes on the boat, it's easy to tell him or her "hey, look in the nav table and there is a list of what's on the boat".


    We also keep a one-page "list of things to do before leaving the boat" (ie, shut of the engine switch, open the chain lockers, secure the forward hatch, propane off, etc) We had numerous "whoopsies" due to miscommunication, so now the last person off the boat gets that laminated sheet out and skims to make sure the important stuff is done. I highly suggest that little sheet to all!

    ~Aaron




     
  • September 10, 2011 7:31 AM
    Reply # 696024 on 696003
    Aaron Norlund wrote:Good idea, Jack. We also have an inventory, but it's kept in a notebook with a two-laminated-page diagram of all compartments listed with numbers, similar to yours...

    Thanks, Aaron.

    My original thought was simply to create a detailed mapping of each compartment that could be laminated as you described. And this will still be an integral part of the design. But once I had added the detail to identify all the ares, it seemed logical to provide a programatic approach to track the inventory.

    Without investing a great deal of extra effort to make this an executable application, it would be somewhat difficult for an owner to install (as an application) it on their system. It requires a web server to be installed on owner's their laptop or computer, along with PHP and a MySQL database. While many owners have have the knowledge to do this, most probably would not. My reason for the thread was in hopes that my detailed image and compartment list could be easily augmented into a manual system such as the one you describe. Of course if someone did have the knowledge to set up the web server and database on locahost, I would still recommend making laminated printout(s)... perhaps one accessible in each primary location.

    Jack
    Last modified: September 11, 2011 9:34 AM | Anonymous member
  • September 11, 2011 6:55 AM
    Reply # 696671 on 692534
    Jack, I love your schematic diagrams and the system seems pretty logical.  I've yet to load up for a trip but still manage to misplace items and have to spend ten minutes opening/emptying lockers and drawers to find that one thing I desperately need!  Send me a copy too!  -Tom
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