> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Inventory Monitoring for Preppers



Inventory Monitoring for Preppers

Part of preparing is building up stockpiles or inventory of various essential goods--food storage, water, ammo and so on. At some point, you will want to start managing your stockpiles and the quantities you have on hand. This is especially important for items that you will be using on a regular basis or rotating--food storage comes to mind here, any other regularly used consumable can get this treatment too--garbage bags, toilet paper, you name it.

Why keep track of your inventory? Well, you have your stockpile to protect against uncertainties, and you want to make sure that you have acceptable quantities on hand at all times, just in case. If TEOTWAWKI hits and you find out, surprise, you've got one roll of TP left, things aren't gong to be pretty. Keeping track of your stockpiles is a smart thing to do.

Here are three different methods to consider:

The P System/Target Quantity
Using this method, you pick a target quantity of inventory to have on hand and then a point where you will re-order. For example, you've got a target of 100 water bottles and you count and purchase more water bottles every two weeks. Say your two weeks goes by and you have 80 water bottles. You go to the store and buy 20, giving you your 100 on hand.
  • Pick a target quantity
  • Pick a regular time period for inventory counts
  • After you've counted inventory, purchase back to the target quantity
Weakness: If you have a run on your water bottles, you wait until your time period has passed to purchase the target amount. Say you have a big party at the beginning of the two weeks that uses up 80 water bottles; you'll be out of water (or have very low stocks) before your usual two weeks is up.

The Q System/Re-Order Point 
Using this method, you pick a minimum re-order point; if you hit this number, you will immediately go out and buy more. For example, you've got a 500 round minimum for 9mm; if, at any point, you drop below 500 rounds, you buy more. Usually the re-order size is also fixed (so when you drop below 500 rounds of 9mm, you go out and buy 500 more).
  • Pick a re-order point or minimum stock on-hand
  • If you pass that point, buy more immediately
Weakness: You don't reorder until you hit your minimum levels, which means you can be skating by with near-minimum levels for a while. Also, if you have to wait for a reorder to be shipped (ammo, MREs, etc.), you may drop below your minimums (or go without) while waiting.

Combination Approach
In this, you combine both the target and re-order point systems. You set a target quantity, time period and also a re-order point. So for example, you have a target of 100 bottles of water, check them every two weeks and have a re-order point of 50. In this system, you replenish your 100 water bottle stockpile every two weeks, but if at any point you drop below 50 water bottles, you go out to the store and get more. This gives you the benefits of both systems--regularly maintaining a target quantity and quick response to low stockpiles. With this method, you'll always have good quantities of critical items on hand.

Weakness: More frequent ordering and more monitoring necessary. However, for most things we're not talking about counting warehouses full of items. Counting canned goods or cases of water bottles is not too difficult or time consuming.

Recommendation and Implementation
The combination approach works best and is recommended for critical survival items and regularly used food stuffs. Discuss target quantities, time periods and re-purchase points with the family; write them down and plan for them. In real life, this could look something like:
  • We have a target of ten cases of water on hand.
  • We will count and buy more cases on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month.
  • If we drop below 6 cases of water, we will go out and buy more right away.
Notes on pantry or storage room shelves with target quantities and re-order points are helpful reminders. Schedule your inventory counting on your calendar. Heck, even just discussing and having a verbal agreement will work for many things.

If you take weekly trips to the grocery store, this makes for a good time period for taking inventory and buying to your target for often used items. Preparing a little checklist--whether it's written or mental--to review before heading to the store can be helpful.

Less used items can be re-purchased on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. If you're not using something up on at least a monthly basis, the re-order point will be easier to track and remember...I doubt many of us will remember to check stockpiles every quarter or six month months.