Recently searched
    University of sheffield

    Increasing availability of parts to engineering students

    RS deployed its RS ScanStock® managed inventory service at The University of Sheffield.

    End inefficient, costly procurement processes

    A large part of process costs can be due to inefficient inventory management. This particularly applies to low-value, fast moving industrial consumables. Overstocking, poor stock monitoring, shrinkage and availability issues lead to lost productivity and downtime.

    The University of Sheffield is one of the 24 Russell Group universities – committed to research, it also prides itself on having excellent links with business and the public sector. The university has a vibrant and successful Faculty of Engineering, which is number one in the UK for engineering research income and investment. The Faculty has more than 6,700 students and an annual research income of over £120m. In 2017, it opened a student-led workshop and makerspace facility called the iForge, located in the Diamond – a University building renowned for providing practical engineering learning and teaching opportunities.


    With more than 800 registered users, the iForge provides everything students need to bring coursework and personal projects to fruition. As well as acting as a space in which to build and create, the iForge underpins a commitment to equipping undergraduates with in-demand industry-ready skills.

    Free issue, low-cost parts and spares are readily available to all iForge users. But ensuring availability within a controlled, planned environment was proving to be a challenge. Ad hoc ordering and laborious stock-checking processes were creating huge amounts of admin and If components were not available, students would either have to wait or find a workaround. That often meant buying their own materials, which a lot of the time were low-priced, substandard items that risked projects– failing and could even represent safety concerns.


    To solve both sides of this problem, RS deployed its RS ScanStock® managed inventory service at the iForge. RS ScanStock® reduces the time and cost of replenishing low-value, fast moving industrial supplies. Thanks to the team at RS managing the system and strategy, it takes the complexity away too – from the installation of storage facilities and labels with barcodes to taking responsibility for regular stock checks and replenishment. Resistors, LEDs and other low-cost items are made available via storage cribs. These are topped up regularly following routine, scheduled stocktaking visits every two weeks from a dedicated RS account manager to keep things running smoothly. A monthly summary is provided to the University of Sheffield providing visibility of all invoices and costs It is also now possible to start to predict which items are likely to be in high demand by analysing data relating to course content, modules being studied and ongoing projects.


    One of the most immediate and visible benefits to the iForge is ordering the most-needed items virtually takes care of itself, while careful regular stock checks avoid any unexpected shortages.

    For students who have come to rely on the iForge this means a steady supply of the products they need is always on hand. Furthermore, the quality of those products is assured, so they needn’t worry about parts failing, leading to problems with their finished work, and they don’t have to source their own, cheaper parts. “The feedback we get from students is overwhelmingly extremely positive. But as the facility grows, the pressure to keep it operating smoothly grows with it and the more time can be taken up keeping everything in order. RS ScanStock® has freed up a lot of time for us.” says iForge Lead Technician Ryan Jones.

    Beyond this, RS is getting more heavily involved in iForge activities, even sponsoring a recent hackathon event, providing not just components but practical hands-on advice and guidance on the day, too. Growing a relationship like this, and finding new places to add value, is one of the core ways RS sets itself apart in a competitive market.

    Quote icon

    As the facility grows, the pressure to keep it operating smoothly grows with it and the more time can be taken up keeping everything in order. RS ScanStock® has freed up a lot of time for us.”

    Ryan Jones iForge Lead Technician

    Quote icon

    Right product, right place, right time

    From the installation of storage solutions and stock selection to checks and replenishment, we take care of everything.

    Get in touch today