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Adventures In TPS Learning, Becoming An Inventory P.I.

Apr 8, 2015 | Posted by Ben Thompson

Keep Calm and Kaizen On

Hey there blog fans, the last few weeks I’ve been working closely with one of the newer members of the TnT team, Mr. Marek Piatkowski. He may be a new player on our team but with over 30 years experience in engineering change and continuous improvement, it is safe to say he is no stranger to the game. Marek has agreed to help guide me in my learning as a student of TPS along with Matt and Erik, and has decided to start by developing my inventory organization and management skills; he is teaching me his step by step method for implementing a successful and sustainable inventory supermarket.



An inventory supermarket is exactly what it sounds like, it a system located in your production facility that stores organizes and manages all the parts and materials you will need for production. This isn’t to say that there can’t or won’t other inventory ares in your facility. You may have more then one inventory supermarket or some line side “convenience stores” , it all based on the needs of your facility and how you plan to meet those needs.


This method puts the “P” in PDCA, PFEP or Plan For Every Part says it all in one four letter acronym. In order for  use  to manage our inventory we have to know it in and out. This is very much a “Go and See” exercise in the beginning, your like an inventory P.I., a Parts Investigator. Much like private investigator finding out all of the details of a person, you must find out all of the details of a part, for every part.  For example:

Information about the Part

  • Part name
  • Part number
  • Part type
  • A description of the part
  • The part’s colour, etc.

Information about the Packaging Container

  • Container Type
  • Standard Container
  • Unit of Measure
  • Quantity per Container
  • Empty Container Weight
  • Part Weight
  • Full Container Weight, etc.

Shipping Information

  • Order Frequency
  • Delivery Lead Time
  • Transportation
  • Transit Time
  • Shipment Frequency
  • Min. Shipping Container
  • Number of Pieces per shipping Container, etc.


Inventory PI  2

And so on and so forth, approximately seven categories us gumshoes have to consider in order to get the full story for every part. We make sure to gather all of this information to remove any surprises when planning and implementing our plans for each part. All of this at once can be overwhelming but take some advice from Marek:

Begin filling the PFEP with parts data from one cell or a production line. Add data cell-by-cell for all the cells in the value stream. Ultimately, it will include comprehensive information on every part in the entire facility.” (Marek Piatkowski, Mar. 2015)          

We are humans, our minds function better with simpler smaller chunks leading to a whole. Like a squirrel preparing for winter, take it one acorn at a time and always remember to,






Learn Four Strategies To Start Improving Any Area Of Your Business