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Given the constant striving of economic organizations to succeed in the global competitive
environment, companies emphasize the need for operational efficiency and process optimization.
Technology progresses at a rapid pace to meet these demands, and supply-chain strategies change to
offer growing opportunities in the global economy.

Manufacturers invest considerable resources in planning, analyzing and predicting the optimal timing
and quantities to produce the variety of company goods, and new technological tools enable high-
quality data analysis to support these growing decision-making needs. However, some traditional
decision making systems may still be useful for both high and low budget firms unable to invest in
costly tools. These include inventory classification systems, frequently referred to as ABC analyses,
which provide an important analytical framework for inventory management [1].

ABC categorization is based on Pareto¶s Law. Pareto was an Italian economist and sociologist who
found that 20% of the people control 80% of the wealth [2]. This principle, also called the 80/20 rule,
may be tapplied to various areas. For example, 20% of the purchases are from 80% of the suppliers,
20% of the sales lines provide 80% of turnover, and 20% of the production lines occupy 80% of
warehouse space. All these form the basis of inventory control research [3].
The ABC categorization is quite simple. Inventory items are usually divided into three classes
according to their turnover ranking, and labeled A, B and C [2,4] (although in some situation the
number of classes may be higher [4]) . The A class usually includes from 10 to 15 percent of inventory
items that represent 60 to 80 percent of the total inventory value; the B class includes about 25
percent of inventory items with 15 to 20 percent of the total value; and the C items include the largest
portion ± around 50 to 55 percent, representing 15 percent of inventory value [2].

Since the current stock level doesn¶t provide any indication as to which items are more important than
others ± for example, there may be high-value items that are sold rapidly, leaving low inventory
levels, or low-value items with high inventory levels because they are not sold ± item ranking is set
according to annual turnover, given by: Annual usage × Unit cost [3].

  


Determine the annual usage and dollar value of inventory items, as illustrated in 
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  Setting input data for ABC analysis

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h. Determine the aggregate percentage of annual turnover, as illustrated in 


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( Classify the items. 


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represent 65 percent of total value, B items represent 20, and C items represent the remainder.


 (: ABC classification

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v  illustrates the items as a percentage of the total, before ABC classification. Figure 2
illustrates them after the classification.

v : Before ABC classification

v h: After ABC classification


*i : you can easily generate your own ABC charts online here.

After applying the analysis, you may choose among several inventory control methods. For example, a
Fortune 500 company may choose to monitor A items daily, controlling B items using an economic
order quantity model, and maintaining C items as a minimum safety stock, perhaps even without
monitoring them at all [2]. Another example is distribution redesign: A items may be stocked in all
warehouses, B items in a few regional warehouses, and C items only at the plant [5].

It is easy to see how purchase order patterns, restructured based on ABC analysis, can mean
considerable savings. If a firm unjustifiably attributes similar importance to all items, and therefore its
policy is to purchase all items once a month, this may naturally result in redundant stock or even
worse ±shortage in high-demand items.
ABC analysis thus ensures significant cost savings, representing an invaluable tool in the
management tactical arsenal.

  


1.? Stanford, R.E. and W. Martin, Towards a normative model for inventory cost management in a
generalized ABC classification system.   
  
  , 2007.
58(7): p. 922-928.
2.? Berniker, E. and D.E. McNabb, Applying matrixed Pareto analysis with activity based costing
for operations and cost management.    , 2005. 11(1): p.
73-88.
3.? Wild, T.,    , 1997, (chapter 3): Wiley publication.
4.? Fuerst, W.L., Small businesses get a new look at ABC Analysis for inventory control. 
  (pre-1986), 1981. 19(000003): p. 39.
5.? Lambert, D.M., J.R. Stock, and L.M. Ellram, v    . 1998:
McGraw-Hill.