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Saving Time and Reducing Costs Through Cost-Efficient Inventory Management


Keeping track of lab supplies emerged as a complicated problem for a global leader in household products manufacturing. Frequent delays and difficulty locating necessary supplies had become such a hassle that researchers were driven to stock more than they needed, causing inventory to pile up.

The company’s procurement team estimated that its laboratories were stocking three to four times the necessary volume. Managing this stock was a grossly inefficient use of researchers’ time, and the expense of accommodating this inventory could not justifiably be passed onto the end user. How could the company optimize the efficiency of its inventory in order to increase valuable research time for its scientists?


The company asked VWRCATALYST to analyze its inventory, study its current ordering process, and recommend a solution that would reduce costs while allowing scientists to stay focused at the bench. VWRCATALYST studied the situation and created a plan that included:

  • Establishing buying patterns for all stocking locations
  • Consolidating suppliers to reduce ordering and invoice complexity, as well as operational costs
  • Implementing an automated inventory management system to prevent repetitive ordering, optimize inventory levels, and reduce scientist involvement in procurement
  • Labor justification to manage the process after implementation

The VWRCATALYST Site Services Team implemented the 5S system in the stocking locations: Sort, Set (in order), Shine, Standardize, and Sustain Forward. This system emphasizes standardizing methods of organizing and cleaning the stockroom, and continuous use of these methods to reduce the time spent on future reorganization efforts.

Figure 2. Summary of reduction in on-hand inventory.

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Success Story


A new system was needed for a large household product manufacturing company to controls costs and stop wasting scientific resources on inventory management.


An automated inventory management system was implemented to prevent repetitive ordering, reduce scientists’ involvement, and optimize inventory levels.


Reduced overstock inventory by $30,450 and recovered 4,373 hours per year for research that had previously been wasted on managing inventory.

Need Help?

Are your scientific resources being wasted on non-research activities? VWRCATALYST has the skills, knowledge, and experience to support research productivity improvement at your organization. For more information, visit or contact us at

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