While there is no hard and fast rule on what is acceptable or required, most companies categorize their inventory into three classifications; 1) “A” items which typically represent 15-20% of the quantity and 75-80% of the total inventory value, 2) “B” items which usually comprise 15-25% and 10-20% of the quantity and value respectively and 3) “C” items comprising the balance and therefore having about 65-70% of the quantity, but only around 5% of the value.
This inventory value distribution is used primarily for inventory control purposes. Inventory control can include various forms including how tightly a particular inventory item is secured and the accuracy of purchase quantities and cycle counting. In essence, the main purpose is to focus a company’s inventory control on mainly the “A” items, less so on the “B’ items and even less on the “C” items. For example, a company may decide to cycle count their “A” inventory once a week or once a month, the “B” inventory once a quarter or twice a year and the “C” items once a year. Similarly, the “A” inventory items will get the most review and analysis of the purchasing recommendation provided by the MRP.
The benefit of focus is the reason why most companies do categorize their inventory in this manner. Without this tool manufacturing, purchasing and finance personnel will end up spending an inappropriate amount of time reviewing purchases and cycle counts on parts that do not warrant such attention.
The “D” category (which I chose to define it for this blog) mentioned in the title is a bit of a misnomer as it really is not a category, because it represents items of such little value they should be expensed upon receipt; i.e. not classified as inventory for financial reporting purposes. A good example of such “inventory” would be any inexpensive nuts, bolts or washers. Obviously, for “D” parts there would be no need to cycle count nor spend a lot of time analyzing the inventory as the decision was already made by management to expense it.
With the above as context, a reasonable question that finance and manufacturing should ask is should we reclassify some of our existing “C” inventory to a more appropriate expense item. By definition, there will be a one-time charge to the P&L when the existing inventory is expensed, but the charge should be immaterial given the low-value of the parts being reclassified.
Bottom-line: at a minimum, a once a year review of all your inventory items should be done so that all parts are classified appropriately in order maintain the appropriate level of management and control of the inventory. This review should also include analyzing “C” items to determine if certain items should be expensed upon receipt.