Where’s Fishbowl? Warehousing and the Consumption Model

Where is Fishbowl?Question: What do a live-in mental healthcare facility, a river barge towing company, and a science summer camp for teens all have in common?

Answer: They are all happy Fishbowl customers and they use Fishbowl Inventory in pretty much the same way. Namely, they have warehouses full of inventory (with hundreds of SKUs) and they need to track the consumption or usage of the inventory on behalf of the company or institution they service.

Think of any business, institution, government agency, university, Fortune 500 company, etc., whose product or service is NOT the inventory they need to warehouse in order to run their business. But they still need to track and manage that inventory as a very real, and often costly, expense to running their business.

Central Mississippi Residential Center, Fishbowl Inventory BlogTake the live-in mental health care facility, for example, the Central Mississippi Residential Center. Their product/service is providing top quality live-in mental health care and treatment to dozens of residents. What would they need to warehouse/inventory in order to continue providing their product/service? How about food, cleaning supplies, bedding, and furniture, just to name a few? Combined, these cost a great deal of money and if they are not tracked properly it is easy to misplace, mislabel or run out of critical items. When items start to run low, managers need to be notified in time to reorder them and have them arrive quickly. And some products, particularly food and medical supplies, will often have a shelf life that needs to be tracked, as well. Fishbowl Inventory does all of this.

Tugboat, Fishbowl Inventory BlogBut what about the river barge towing company: Parker Towing? Why would a towing company, with a bunch of tugboats, need a special software to track inventory? Well, think of a towboat (or delivery truck, for that matter) as its own mobile warehouse of spare parts and supplies that are required to keep the boat running. It is easy to imagine that many of the materials are high dollar value items, such as engine parts or navigation and communications equipment, or maybe they are purely maintenance materials, such as paint, or crew supplies like food. Each boat would need to carry its own inventory, making it a mobile warehouse. Additionally, a centralized warehouse to service the entire fleet of tugboats would be required. Engines are overhauled and repaired or maybe even disassembled to salvage usable parts. Fishbowl Inventory helps with all of this. Then as each tugboat is resupplied, the central warehouse could repurpose the required materials to each tugboat and thereby track the consumption or usage of supplies over the course of time.

Kids with soda bottle, Fishbowl Inventory BlogA similar model of usage is applied at Galileo Learning, a summer camp for kids that focuses on science and innovation. With 38 summer camps throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, the usage model in this case is purely feast or famine. For months prior to the start of the season the warehouse for Galileo Learning is bringing in the required supplies for each camp (based on its curriculum and age group) and then the supplies are divvied up into individual container loads for easy shipment to each camp.

In this case, most supplies are consumables and therefore will be used up over the course of the summer. They are “sold” to each camp, which makes it easy to track the consumables costs associated with each camp. Think of the materials as having been expensed to each camp. Often, however, at the end of the summer, many of these consumables have not been used up and need to be brought back to the main warehouse to be inventoried for the next summer. When this happens, RMAs are used within Fishbowl Inventory to return the unused items back to the main warehouse and to properly track the inventory costs (similar to when a customer returns a product to the store).

Kids with drills, Fishbowl Inventory BlogBut other supplies, such as the drills you see in the picture to the left, will be coming back and need to be re-inventoried at the end of the season. This is a simple case of using the Fishbowl Transfer Orders to transfer the durable goods to the camp in the first place and then transfer them back to the main warehouse at the end of the summer.

And that’s it. Whether you manage a warehouse for a healthcare facility, tugboat company, or a chain of summer camps, Fishbowl Inventory can handle the job.

Till next time…


About Grant Kimball

Grant Kimball is currently serving as vice president, partner relations and is one of the founders of Fishbowl. Grant joined the original Fishbowl team in 2001 and has filled many roles in, or related to, sales. Previous to his current role, he was vice president of sales and marketing. Grant brings 24 years of sales experience to Fishbowl, primarily in technology-related fields. In 2003, Grant helped steer Fishbowl towards integration with QuickBooks, the popular accounting package from Intuit Corporation. Since 2003, Fishbowl has focused on this relationship and is currently the #1-requested add-on software solution for QuickBooks users out of approximately 300 software packages. Besides the relationship with Intuit, Grant is also responsible for developing Fishbowl’s growing resellers program, which he is currently managing, and now accounts for over 20% of Fishbowl’s total sales. Grant earned a Master’s in Computer Integrated Manufacturing from Brigham Young University and a Bachelor’s in Operations Management from Cal Poly, Pomona.
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