Raw Inventory: Types, Benefits, Management, Monitoring, and Controlling

About Raw Inventory: 

Raw Inventory: Definition, Formula, Types, and It's Components

Raw Inventory: A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses

Learn about raw materials, work in process, and finished goods inventory. Know the advantages and challenges of managing raw inventory along with best practices for optimizing stock levels through forecasting, metrics, and inventory control techniques.

Introduction to Raw Inventory

Raw inventory refers to the materials and components purchased by a company that has not yet begun the production process. It includes all unused or unprocessed materials like raw materials, work-in-process goods, and finished products that are not yet sold. 

Having sufficient raw inventory allows businesses to meet customer demand and avoid stock-outs. However, too much raw inventory leads to carrying costs, obsolescence risks, and tied-up working capital.

What is Raw Inventory?

Raw inventory encompasses all materials, components, and unfinished and finished products that a company purchases or manufactures for the purpose of production and sales. It serves as the input for the production process. Raw inventory has not yet gone through the production process to create sellable goods.

Types of Raw Inventory

There are three main types of raw inventory:

1. Raw Materials Inventory

  • Consists of materials and parts purchased by the company that will undergo processing or manufacturing to create finished goods.

2. Work in Process Inventory

  • Includes materials and components that have begun the production process but are not yet complete or ready for sale.

3. Finished Goods Inventory

  • Comprises completed products manufactured by the company that are ready for sale to customers.

Having adequate amounts of raw materials, work in process goods, and finished stock allows companies to operate smoothly and efficiently while meeting customer demand. Companies must balance the costs and risks of holding too much raw inventory with the potential for lost sales and stock-outs if raw stocks are too low.

Benefits of Maintaining Raw Inventory

Carrying sufficient raw inventory levels provides companies with several benefits:

Meet Market Demand

Having enough raw materials and finished product inventory on hand allows companies to meet customer orders and satisfy market demand. Avoiding shortages prevents missed sales opportunities.

Avoid Stock-outs

Maintaining adequate inventory reduces the risk of stock-outs where demand exceeds available supply. Stock-outs can damage customer relationships and lead to loss of loyalty.

Take Advantage of Bulk Purchasing Discounts

Purchasing raw materials in bulk quantities can lead to volume discounts and better per unit pricing. Larger purchases also reduce reorder frequency allowing savings on order processing costs.

Hedge Against Supply Chain Disruptions

Having safety stock of raw materials and adequate finished goods inventory acts as a buffer against supply chain disruptions. Companies can continue meeting demand during supplier delays, shipping interruptions, or unexpected spikes in orders.

Support Lean Manufacturing

Higher raw inventory levels allow companies to operate with leaner production systems and just-in-time principles. Excess inventory is not required to buffer against uncertainties.

Challenges of Raw Inventory Management

While raw inventory provides benefits, companies also face multiple challenges related to managing and controlling raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods stock:

Carrying Costs

Holding inventory leads to substantial carrying costs including warehouse rent, labor, insurance, and taxes. Perishable items can expire or become obsolete leading to write-offs.

Obsolescence Risk

Technological change, shifts in consumer preferences, and short product life cycles increase the risk of inventory obsolescence. Excess raw stocks no longer useful must be disposed of or written down.

Tied Up Working Capital

Large investments in raw inventory represent significant amounts of working capital unavailable for other business purposes. This leads to higher borrowing costs and lost investment income.

Warehouse Space Requirements

Storing and managing raw inventory necessitates substantial warehouse space and materials handling equipment. This increases overhead costs and operational complexity.

Setting Raw Inventory Targets

To optimize their raw inventory levels, companies must set replenishment targets for raw materials, work in progress levels, and finished goods stock. Several factors must be considered when establishing appropriate inventory targets:

Forecasting Demand

Accurately forecasting customer demand across product lines allows companies to plan raw inventory needs at each stage of the production process. Historical sales data and advanced analytical techniques improve reliability.

Analyzing Past Sales

Looking at past sales patterns, seasonal fluctuations, and sales cycles provides guidance for future inventory requirements. Companies can align raw stock levels with periods of peak and low demand.

Factor in Lead Times

The required lead time to receive raw materials and manufacture finished goods will significantly impact inventory targets. Longer replenishment lead times may necessitate carrying more raw inventory.

Account for Variability

Building buffers against demand variability and uncertainties in supply requires higher raw inventory relative to more stable situations. Spikes in demand and potential supply chain disruptions should be considered.

Utilize Safety Stock

Carrying extra inventory as a safety stock acts as insurance when actual demand exceeds forecasted amounts or suppliers fail to deliver. The desired service level guides required safety stock levels.

Monitoring and Controlling Raw Inventory

After setting raw inventory targets, companies must regularly monitor their inventory to identify needed adjustments and maintain optimal levels. Useful metrics and techniques include:

Inventory Turnover Ratio

This ratio measures how efficiently inventory is managed by calculating annual cost of goods sold divided by average raw inventory investment. Higher ratios indicate more efficient use of inventory.

Days Inventory Outstanding

The number of days it takes to turn over raw inventory inventory calculated by dividing raw inventory by cost of goods sold per day. It signifies how many days a company can continue operations with existing inventory. Lower DIO requires less cash tied up in inventory.

ABC Analysis

This analysis segments raw inventory according to annual dollar usage which typically follows an 80/20 rule. The A group represents 20% of items driving 80% of inventory dollars. Companies then tailor management control for each group.

Just in Time Inventory

With this Lean system, companies maintain limited raw materials inventory and rely on frequent deliveries from suppliers to replenish stock as needed. Reduces inventory carrying costs but requires excellence in supply chain management.

Perpetual vs Periodic Inventory

A perpetual inventory system tracks raw stock in real-time as items are received and used in production. A periodic system physically counts inventory at set intervals. Perpetual provides more control.

Cycle Counting

Frequently counting subsets of inventory items provides a continuous update of raw stock levels rather than relying on annual inventory counts. Improves accuracy of inventory records.

Inventory Management Software

IT systems help track raw inventory status, costs, locations, and turnover. Analytics modules can automate replenishment orders and provide real-time visibility over raw materials usage.

Optimizing Raw Inventory Levels

Companies can improve raw inventory management through several optimization strategies:

Eliminate Excess and Obsolete Stock

Identify and dispose of any excess raw materials and finished goods that are overstocked or at risk of obsolescence. This reduces carrying costs and converts inventory back to cash.

Improve Forecasting Accuracy

Leverage historical data patterns, predictive modeling, and customer demand input to produce more accurate sales and production forecasts. This aligns raw materials replenishment with expected needs.

Reduce Lead Times

Work with suppliers to reduce delivery lead times for raw material orders through improved logistics and JIT capabilities. Faster replenishment reduces safety stock needs.

Smooth Production Schedules

Leveling production schedules by reducing batch sizes decreases work in process inventory and allows continuous flow. Smoothing production minimizes raw inventory spikes.

Employ Supply Chain Best Practices

Adopting lean and just-in-time principles across the supply chain minimizes excess inventory. Vendor managed inventories and continuous replenishment also optimize raw stock levels.

Accounting Treatment and Valuation of Raw Inventory

How companies value and account for raw inventory impacts financial statements and income tax obligations:

Absorption Costing Method

This method includes all production costs like materials, labor, and overhead when valuing ending inventory balances on the balance sheet. It leads to higher inventory valuations.

Variable Costing Method

Only variable production costs like materials and labor are included in inventory balances. Fixed overhead costs are excluded. Results in lower inventory asset values.


These terms determine the inventory cost flow assumptions. LIFO means last-in, first-out while FIFO means first-in, first-out. FIFO results in higher profitability during inflationary periods compared to LIFO.

Weighted Average Cost Method

The weighted average cost of units purchased at varying prices is used to value ending inventory. Provides smoothed inventory costs as prices fluctuate over time.

Tax Implications of Raw Inventory

Managing raw inventory also impacts a company's income tax expense in several ways:

Cash to Accrual Accounting

For tax purposes, companies must use accrual accounting which recognizes inventory purchases and sales when transactions occur rather than when cash changes hands. Matches expenses with revenues.

Uniform Capitalization Rules

Indirect costs related to production or resale must be capitalized into inventory values, not immediately deducted. Lowers taxable income in earlier years but provides future tax savings.

Inventory Property Taxes

Most states levy annual property taxes on inventory held in warehouses and facilities within their jurisdiction. Higher raw inventory levels increase property tax expenses.

FAQs Related to Raw Inventory Management

What are the risks of carrying too much raw inventory?

Excess raw inventory leads to increased carrying costs, obsolescence risks, opportunity costs from working capital tied up, and warehouse space issues. Companies can experience write-downs if raw stock spoils or becomes obsolete.

How can technology enable better raw inventory management?

Inventory management software provides real-time visibility into raw stock levels across locations. Analytics modules facilitate improved demand forecasting and optimized reorder points. RFID tags and sensors enable automated inventory tracking.

Should raw materials inventory and finished goods inventory be managed differently?

While raw materials and finished goods inventory support different stages of the production cycle, the core principles and best practices of inventory management apply to both. The primary difference is finished goods represent the final sellable product.

What are the main differences between perpetual vs periodic inventory systems?

Perpetual systems use technology to provide real-time monitoring of raw inventory while periodic systems rely on manual counts done at periodic intervals. Perpetual provides more control but periodic can sometimes be more cost effective for smaller companies.

How can poor raw inventory management impact a company’s bottom line?

Inadequate raw inventory causes shortages and production delays while excess stock leads to higher carrying costs. Both scenarios negatively impact profitability. Establishing optimal raw inventory targets tailored to the production environment is key for maintaining profit margins.

What does inventory turnover ratio indicate about a company's inventory management effectiveness?

The inventory turnover ratio measures how many times a company sells and replaces its raw inventory during a period. Higher ratios indicate more efficient use of inventory while lower ratios imply excess inventory levels are being maintained.

How does accounting valuation of raw inventory impact financial statements?

Inventory asset valuation on the balance sheet along with the timing of expense recognition can significantly impact the inventory balances and cost of goods sold on the income statement. This in turn impacts profitability measures like gross margin and net income.

Why does tax legislation like uniform capitalization rules exist for inventory accounting?

Requirements to capitalize certain inventory costs rather than expensing them helps align tax reporting of inventory expenses with the actual economic reality of the costs being an investment in inventory assets. This prevents tax avoidance.

How can cycle counting optimize raw inventory levels?

By frequently counting subsets of inventory rather than relying on annual counts, cycle counting improves data accuracy about actual raw inventory levels. This facilitates keeping stock aligned with targets and making timely adjustments.

What are the pros and cons of just-in-time inventory systems?

JIT provides reduced inventory costs but requires excellent supplier relationships and logistics to ensure continuous inventory replenishment. Disruptions can shut down production without inventory buffers. Implementation also takes significant process change.

In summary, properly managing raw inventory is a critical supply chain function in manufacturing and distribution. Companies must balance the costs and risks of excess raw materials and finished goods with the customer service advantages of adequate stock levels. Using the strategies outlined in this article can help optimize inventory policies and maintain profitability.

Next Post Previous Post