Raw Material and Inventory Management

Man learning about raw material and inventory management


In the dynamic world of manufacturing, the mastery of raw material inventory for inventory management stands as the cornerstone of operational efficiency. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of managing raw materials, a task that Brytebuild transforms from a challenge into a strategic asset.

Understanding Raw Materials in Manufacturing

What Are Raw Materials? Raw materials are the fundamental inputs required for manufacturing any product. These can range from unrefined natural resources like minerals, crude oil, and timber to processed materials like metal sheets, plastics, and chemicals. In a broader sense, raw materials in manufacturing also include semi-finished products or components procured from other manufacturers that are used as parts in more complex assemblies. For example, a smartphone manufacturer might use processed silicon, metal components, glass screens, and advanced microprocessors as raw materials in their production process.


  • In automobile manufacturing, steel, aluminum, glass, and rubber are common raw materials.
  • For electronics, raw materials include silicon for microchips, copper for wiring, and various plastics for casings.

Categorising Raw Materials: Direct vs Indirect

  1. Direct Materials: These are the core components of your product, directly contributing to its creation. For instance, wood and fabric in furniture manufacturing are direct materials, crucial for both production and inventory accuracy.
  2. Indirect Materials: Often overlooked yet vital, indirect materials like tools and lubricants support production processes. Though they don’t form part of the final product, their role in maintaining an efficient production line is indisputable.

Raw Materials vs Work-in-Process (WIP)

WIP inventory sits between raw materials and finished goods, representing goods midway through the production process. It’s a distinct category that necessitates separate tracking from raw materials.

The Essence of Raw Material Inventory Management

Raw material inventory management is the strategic orchestration of purchasing, storing, and utilizing raw materials. It’s a balancing act between having enough stock for uninterrupted production and avoiding the financial strain of overstocking.

Why Does It Matter?

Efficient raw material inventory management is pivotal for:

  • Maintaining seamless production flow.
  • Controlling manufacturing costs.
  • Ensuring timely response to customer demands.
  • Optimising supply chain operations.

Challenges for Small Manufacturers

Small manufacturers often face a unique set of challenges due to their scale and resources:

  1. Limited Capital: Financial constraints can limit the ability to purchase raw materials in bulk, which may prevent small businesses from benefiting from economies of scale.
  2. Storage Space Constraints: Smaller manufacturers may have limited storage space, complicating the management of raw material inventories. This constraint requires more efficient inventory management techniques, like Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing, where materials are ordered and received as needed for production.
  3. Supplier Dependence: Small manufacturers may rely on a limited number of suppliers due to smaller order volumes or specialized material needs. This reliance can lead to vulnerabilities if a supplier faces issues such as production delays or price increases.
  4. Cash Flow Management: Balancing the costs of raw materials, production, and operations with the timing of revenue can be challenging. Small manufacturers need to carefully manage their cash flow to ensure they have sufficient funds to cover all aspects of their business.

Example: A small furniture workshop might struggle to buy wood in bulk due to upfront cost and storage issues, affecting their production capacity and cost-effectiveness.

10 Proactive Management Tips

  1. Implement an SKU system for tracking.
  2. Maintain an organized physical storage.
  3. Accurately forecast demand.
  4. Utilize safety stock and reorder points.
  5. Align production schedules with material availability.
  6. Conduct ABC analysis for prioritizing materials.
  7. Foster robust supplier relationships.
  8. Embrace Just-in-Time (JIT) inventory methods.
  9. Ensure full traceability of materials.
  10. Leverage MRP/ERP software like Brytebuild for comprehensive management.

Raw Material Inventory Valuation Techniques

  1. FIFO (First-In, First-Out): This method assumes that the oldest stock (first-in) is sold or used in production first (first-out). It’s particularly useful in industries where material obsolescence or perishability is a concern.
    • Example: In the food production industry, FIFO ensures that older ingredients are used before they expire, minimizing waste.
  2. LIFO (Last-In, First-Out): Contrary to FIFO, LIFO assumes the most recently acquired items are sold or used first. It can be beneficial for tax purposes in some jurisdictions, particularly during times of inflation, as it can result in lower reported profits and hence lower taxes.
    • Example: In a hardware manufacturing company, LIFO might be used during periods of rising steel prices to reduce taxable income.
  3. Weighted Average Cost (WAC): This method averages the cost of all similar items in the inventory and uses this average cost to value the items sold and those remaining in inventory. It’s useful for items that are indistinguishable from each other, like screws or bolts.
    • Example: A manufacturer of consumer electronics may use WAC for components like resistors and capacitors, where individual cost variance is minimal.

For a more in-depth understanding of these concepts, you can refer to resources like the Balance Small Business guide on Inventory Valuation for small businesses, and Investopedia’s explanation of raw materials in manufacturing. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers valuable insights and resources for small manufacturers facing unique industry challenges.

Why Brytebuild Is the Answer

Brytebuild, with its innovative MRP capabilities, transcends traditional management methods. It automates and simplifies inventory management, integrating seamlessly with production, procurement, and financial operations for a holistic approach.

Key Takeaways and FAQs

  1. Raw materials are the foundational elements in manufacturing.
  2. Efficient management is vital for operational success.
  3. Valuation methods are key to financial accuracy.
  4. Brytebuild offers a comprehensive solution for raw material inventory management.


  • What is raw material inventory? Example: Steel sheets in automotive manufacturing.
  • How do you calculate raw material inventory? Sum up costs based on valuation methods like FIFO, LIFO, or WAC.
  • Is raw material inventory a balance sheet item? Yes, as a current asset.
  • Are raw materials an inventory item? Absolutely, they’re essential for production processes.

Conclusion: Transform Your Manufacturing with Brytebuild

Embrace the future of manufacturing with Brytebuild’s MRP system. Revolutionise your raw material inventory management and turn challenges into opportunities for growth and efficiency.

Explore how Brytebuild can elevate your manufacturing efficiency. Register now or check out Brytebuild’s features to revolutionise your raw material management today!

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