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Old 17-07-2020, 05:14   #1
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Tracking Spares and Supplies

In preparation to moving to a full time liveaboard / cruising lifestyle, we have discovered that we will have a need to keep spare parts and supplies of all kinds aboard. Not only that but we will need to be able to find their storage location when we do need them.


How do people generally go about doing this? I've thought about using a simple spreadsheet but with the sheer volume things, I can imagine it won't take long for this to become unmanageable.


Thanks in advance!
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Old 17-07-2020, 05:21   #2
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

First thing I do, which you probably have already done, is to categorize things.

All plumbing related: fittings, pumps, spares, etc. in one place.

All electric: crimps, tools, switches, wire, fuses, etc in one place.

All engine parts: filters, belts, impellers, etc in one place.

But there is still the need to keep a list of spares. A year down the road there is no way that I will remember if I still have a spare gasket or belt or what have you, in the kit.

Best way I can think of is a list, either paper or on a spreadsheet. If on a spreadsheet I would print a copy as well in case you need to find something and the computer is not available. You can keep it less complicated by only detailing essential, consumable spares like the belts, filters, impellers and lumping the rest of the stuff in a miscellaneous category. I organize my lists by location.
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Old 17-07-2020, 05:59   #3
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

I have a great system.

First, I buy something I need. Especially a specialty tool.

Next, I misplace it and have to buy another one.

After that, I leave both of them on my other boat, 1000 miles away, and have to buy a third one.

This system has never failed me.
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Old 17-07-2020, 06:19   #4
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
I have a great system.

First, I buy something I need. Especially a specialty tool.

Next, I misplace it and have to buy another one.

After that, I leave both of them on my other boat, 1000 miles away, and have to buy a third one.

This system has never failed me.
Well if I'm completely honest, this is more like my system in the real world. The previous was more like a fantasy that I think about doing one day.
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Old 17-07-2020, 06:53   #5
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
I have a great system.

First, I buy something I need. Especially a specialty tool.

Next, I misplace it and have to buy another one.

After that, I leave both of them on my other boat, 1000 miles away, and have to buy a third one.

This system has never failed me.
You see, this is how I operate at home currently. My wife has made it abundantly clear this will not work (for a variety of reasons) on a boat in the middle of who knows where.


The entire goal of this exercise is to i) preserve marriage and then ii) make sure we are as prepared as possible.


Sounds like the spreadsheets organized by "department" is the way to go. Maybe, when I'm bored, I can write a macro that will generate a required parts list when we are in port.
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Old 17-07-2020, 06:59   #6
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

I don't do anything. I buy whatever spares I think I need, then put them somewhere. Small motor spares go in a tool box. Bigger ones, just wherever they fit. Other spares again, usually just where ever they fit.

You could use some inventory management software, but why? This isn't a job. You're it's supposed to be fun. Few things are going to be so crucial that if you can't find the spare part in 30 seconds you'll die.

Plus you can always keep any important spares usually something engine related, next to the engine. Or plugs tied to through-hulls. Maybe if you are paranoid, some bit bolt cutters in the cockpit. I can't think of many other things, that you would need super urgently.

Too many people overthink this.
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Old 17-07-2020, 07:14   #7
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

I had similar plans when I first moved aboard a few months ago. I inventoried everything the previous owner left me, organized it into categories, added parts where I thought the supply I inherited was lacking, put it all in a spreadsheet with 2 layers of categorization and locations listed...

Now 3 months later I've never once opened the spreadsheet to find something. My real world experience is that the physical list is just not very helpful.

HOWEVER: The process I went through to create the list was extremely helpful.

I now know where everything is by category. Electrical components? Under the aft berth on stbd side. Engine spares? In the port setee. Plumbing parts? Under the sink in the fwd head. I also have a general idea of what parts are in each category, so I usually know whether I have the correct part on hand before I even open up the related box. When I get new parts, I have a well-defined system to tell me where to put them, which is also super helpful.

The other thing I do is around using spares & consumables. First, when I use a part, I order a replacement for it to the next place I can receive mail. Sometimes I order more if I think I might use that particular part too quickly. E.g. after my first impeller replacement, I went ahead and ordered 5 new ones cause those suckers can go any time without warning. Also, if I ever end up needing a part I don't have, I buy extras when I go out to get it, that way my spares list is constantly evolving based on usage, even without a formal inventory system.

I'm sure a more formal system gets more important if you're cruising somewhere more remote, but this has worked well for me so far. Good luck!
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Old 17-07-2020, 07:58   #8
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

In all honesty, this is akin to detailed checklists (Prepare to take the boat out List)....useless.

I use toolboxes/toolbags. One for Plumbing, one for Electrical, etc. Stock it with common parts (Electrical: fuses, shrink tube, crimp connectors, Black and Red wire of various gauges). Once you use an item, or are close to being out of stock then replace it immediately (or as soon as possible). At that point your only list is a shopping list that gets thrown out as soon as you put the new items back in place.

As for the 'Where things are'....It's a boat not a warehouse. Once you find a home for it, you'll get used to where things are. It's like the cabinets in your kitchen. You don't need a list to find the steak knives.
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Old 17-07-2020, 08:08   #9
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

Maintaining a list of spares and supplies is a nightmare. Don't do it.

I have about five places where stuff is stashed, mostly by type of stuff, and I usually can find what i am looking for. Going through all five places ain't that hard anyhow.

And if you find yourself in need of a spare part or supply often enough, as I do, you pretty much have a fresh memory of each stash, all the time.
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Old 17-07-2020, 08:23   #10
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

I’m a simple guy

Each piece of equipment comes with a service , user manual

I record spares onboard directly into the service manual and include the receipt

When your onan or a pump is acting up you first reach for the equipment manual and can see what spares you have

Some spares ....consumables , like fuses light bulbs, plumbing fittings ..aren’t inventoried

Small spares are kept in fishing tackle box’s

Large spares like a starter motor are packed in those vacuum freezer bags , small stuff is stored in zip lock backs .. everything should be waterproofed

Grey plastic euro boxes are the main storage container for the assorted spares .. purchase the lids for the box and remember to drill four 6mm holes in the bottom of the box to drain water
A leak that drips into a box can turn your parts storage box into an aquarium

A boat in good condition doesn’t need to carry a large inventory of expensive spare parts

Tools are very important
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Old 17-07-2020, 08:27   #11
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

Quote:
Originally Posted by slug View Post
I’m a simple guy

Each piece of equipment comes with a service , user manual

I record spares onboard directly into the service manual and include the receipt

When your onan or a pump is acting up you first reach for the equipment manual and can see what spares you have

Some spares ....consumables , like fuses light bulbs, plumbing fittings ..aren’t inventoried

Small spares are kept in fishing tackle box’s

Large spares like a starter motor are packed in those vacuum freezer bags , small stuff is stored in zip lock backs .. everything should be waterproofed

Grey plastic euro boxes are the main storage container for the assorted spares .. purchase the lids for the box and remember to drill four 6mm holes in the bottom of the box to drain water
A leak that drips into a box can turn your parts storage box into an aquarium

A boat in good condition doesn’t need to carry a large inventory of expensive spare parts

Tools are very important
This sounds like a great idea, thank you.
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Old 17-07-2020, 09:17   #12
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

That is a great system. I use a similar system leaving tools and supplies on the boat, in the dock box, garage, and three different locations in my house!
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Old 17-07-2020, 10:03   #13
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

We have a ships inventory. It's great - I can find anything you can name in about 2 minutes. Just keep it up to date....yeah...that's the hardest part. But after you've dropped the ball a couple of times and not recorded it, most of us will decide that keeping it up to date is worth it.

As for spares, suppose I buy 3 impellers (we seem to eat impellers. a lot) when I take the second one to use and there's only one left, I put a big X on it with a Sharpie and write it down on my phone notepad. I have lists for food, clothes, hardware and "BOAT". Now when I'm in a boat store I'll take my phone and get whatever's on the list. I'll buy 2 impellers so my stock is back up to three.
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Old 17-07-2020, 12:00   #14
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

Simple WORD document under headings (Engine etc)
Spare and its part number and number of spares. I update it easily as I use up the spares. Adding a column for location may be of help but I tend to keep spares grouped by function each in a designated location on boat.
What has also been tremendously useful is my First Aid supply list; meds solutions, dressings, needles, sutures etc often have expiration dates. Since I have several bins of med/ first aid supplies, my Word document lists how many of each and their expiration date. Once a year I go over the list and discard outdated supplies and check that I haven't used up anything without replacing it. Otherwise is virtually impossible to keep these up to date and in sufficient quantity
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Old 17-07-2020, 12:25   #15
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Re: Tracking Spares and Supplies

“Grey plastic euro boxes are the main storage container for the assorted spares .. purchase the lids for the box and remember to drill four 6mm holes in the bottom of the box to drain water
A leak that drips into a box can turn your parts storage box into an aquarium”.

Apart from the model of boxes this is what I use. 1 Box electrical, 1 box polyester, 1 box screws/nuts 1 box fasteners/sailing related 1 box glue/chemical products etc
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