they work, and what problems they are designed to solve. The purpose of thissection is to contribute to this understanding.
The Purposes of Inventory Inventory defined.
Inventory is material that the firm obtains in advanceof need, holds until it is needed, and then uses, consumes, incorporates into aproduct, sells, or otherwise disposes of. A business inventory is by its naturetemporary; that is, the firm expects to hold an individual item as inventory for arelatively brief period of time. However, due to the ongoing nature of the firm'soperation, aggregate or total inventory is continually being reordered andrestocked. The net effect of these ongoing processes of usage andreplenishment is that the firm retains a "permanent investment" in inventory. Inother words, individual units come and go, but the firm generally maintains someamount or level of total or aggregate inventory. These inventory assets can beas important to the financial structure of the firm as is investment in, for example,plant and equipment.Inventory management and control consists of developing good answersto the following questions:A.
Which items will the firm carry as inventory?B.
Where in the logistics system will these inventories be maintained?C.
How large will the inventory for each item be?Inventory by its nature is dynamic over time. For a typical item with a longproduct lifetime, inventory stocks rise with replenishment actions and fall withusage or consumption. Decisions about the size of the inventory are thereforeimplemented over time by monitoring and adjusting the sizing and the timing ofinventory replenishment quantities to bring about the desired average oraggregate inventory size. The larger issue here is to determine what anappropriate or correct inventory posture might be for the firm. To answer thisquestion, the analysis must carefully consider:A. The benefit provided by the inventory. That is, what purpose does theinventory serve, and what is the value of that service?B. The total cost of the inventory.
Many of these costs are obvious, butsome others are not. An understanding of the true costs associatedwith inventory is essential.C.
Other logistics options that could be used in place of inventory. Forexample, it may be possible to replace an investment in inventory withpremium or high speed freight service.