Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Inventory Management, Or... "Where Did I Put That?""
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Thread: "Inventory Management, Or... "Where Did I Put That?""

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012

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Inventory Management, Or... "Where Did I Put That?"


Bob Meade
(Member)

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


Jack Webb
(Member)

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


Jeff Graham
(Member)

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



Jack Webb
(Member)

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


Aaron Norlund
(Administrator)

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







Jack Webb
(Member)

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 12:34 PM | Jack Webb


Thomas Koehl
(Member)

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


Unknown
(Unregistered User)

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




Last modified: 06 Sep 2011 2:40 AM | Jack Webb


Werner Hamp
(Member)

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



Unknown
(Unregistered User)

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! Or, looking at the recent forum activity, maybe it's just that nobody cares. I see that there has only been activity on 4 threads so far this month and 60% of the activity of all the most recent posts (14 of the 24) were from "Admin".

At any rate, 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. Give it look. When it's 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). Note that the template is very specific to my boat, which is a standard layout, but with some additional storage areas added.


Let me know what you think.

Jack


Unknown
(Unregistered User)

Thomas Koehl wrote: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

Thanks, Tom

Although my layout is standard, the reference to standard is somewhat obscure, since the layouts changed from year to year and because all had optional add-ons. Also, I've added a whole new section of cabinets above the settee where there used to be just a narrow shelf. I extended the existing cabinets below the shelf by about 9 inches and built storage above the extended shelves. The result is an area wider than the original shelf, but narrower than the optional pilot berth that provides a great deal of easily accessible extra storage. The forward two-thirds has facing with doors. The aft third is used for my printer/scanner, short-wave radio, etc. When under way, it has a removable face that becomes a laptop table on a pedestal, when at anchor. While these compartments are indicated on the template, they would obviously not exist on most boats.




Note that I changed the naming convention from the original posting above. In most cases, storage compartments have a single alpha char (sometimes 2), followed by a number. The alpha prefixes are as follows...


  • FP = Forecastle (Port)
  • FS = Forecastle (Stbd)
  • FC = Forecastle (Cntr)
  • H = Head
  • W = Wardrobe
  • D = Dinette
  • S = Settee
  • G = Galley
  • N = Nav Station
  • B = Bilge or Basement
  • C = Cockpit


Since most of the areas are on either the Port or Starboard side, a single alpha char was sufficient. In the Forecastle, however, the second designation of "P", "S" or "C" were used for clarification. I numbered the areas in the sequence of fore to aft, outboard to inboard, and top to bottom. There may be minor exceptions, resulting from the difficulty in making a 2-dimensional representation of what is a 3-dimensional reality.


While it's likely that my layout is somewhat different from your's (or anyone else's), I'd be happy to make a custom representation for your boat when we get together in Florida. In the mean time, if you have only looked at the images in this post, be sure you look at the demo. Although it isn't set up such that you can actually change the values, it should sufficiently illustrate the intent. When I have a bit more time, I might try to turn this into an executable application that does not require a user to install MySQL and PHP within a localhost web server. This would allow anybody to use it and customize for their boat. Typically, adding this kind of customization requires somewhere in the neighborhood of 10x the programming. In programming, the simpler something looks, the more time it likely took to develop.


W3 Inventory Manager Demo


Jack


Last modified: 11 Sep 2011 10:34 PM | Jack Webb

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