Nano Particle Tech Uses for Molybdenum

Finally, the financial markets have caught on as to how hot molybdenum stocks could get. While we began researching molybdenum about a year ago, and only first publishing in July 2006, molybdenum commentator Ken Reser has practically been the lone voice in the moly wilderness for investors. (We understand there have been several tout sheets hyping molybdenum stocks for nearly as long, but we can’t include those in serious discussions about this metal.)

Now that molybdenum traders have grown more bullish about the metal, we expect molybdenum pricing to continue higher. Ferro moly prices have continued firming up. Some quantity is now selling at US$76 per kg in Europe. One report indicates a recent moly oxide sale at $33/pound.

The emergence of the Sprott Molybdenum Participation Fund might only suggest the beginning of stronger institutional interest in primary molybdenum producers and on-the-horizon molybdenum producers – those whose projects could be online by 2010 or sooner.

In March 2005, Ken Reser penned a short editorial entitled, “Molybdenum: The 21st Century & Beyond Metal.”

Mainstream analysts had not really bothered to investigate the numerous uses for molybdenum prior to Ken Reser’s discussion. Since then, molybdenum stocks have had an incredible run. Mainstream media, such as Canada’s Globe & Mail, Dow Jones MarketWatch, The Australian and London’s Daily Telegraph – have featured molybdenum in their articles and named some of the favored companies.

Now that moly’s time has come, many have passed Ken Reser by, aside from our Australian colleagues, FNArena. This is often the fate of pioneers who pave the road and point the direction where investors should head. Pioneers are oft forgotten, although streets are later named after them.

That’s not going to be the case if we have any say in this. Ken Reser’s moly repertoire has been extensive. Editorials since his seminal article have discussed moly uses in oil and gas de-sulphurization, catalysts, coal liquefaction, energy pipelines, oil super tankers, drill stem tubing, super alloys, nuclear reactors and turbines among others.

What many thought was fiction Reser preached, more than two years ago, are ideas now at the forefront of mainstream discussions among highly respected analysts. The International Molybdenum Association (IMOA) should be thankful Ken Reser attracted such a high level of investor interest to the moly mining sector over the past two years.

Well, the pioneer is alive and well. Ken Reser has more insights into molybdenum’s future. And we invited Ken to publish them in his commentary below.

Ken Reser’s Commentary

Little attention has been given to a few other aspects of this metal of mystery, in a world growing and changing so rapidly. I have little doubt there are more than a few uses of moly. New discoveries are waiting in the wings.

One case in point is Nano-Particle technology involving molybdenum.

American Elements Corp; The US leading manufacturer of Rare Earth & Advanced Material products had this to say about Nano-Particle Molybdenum:

“Molybdenum Oxide (MoO) Nano-powder or Nano-particles, nano-dots or nano-crystals are ferric and ferrous spherical or faceted high surface area oxide magnetic nanostructure particles. Nano-scale Molybdenum Oxide Particles are typically 20-80 nanometers (nm) with specific surface area (SSA) in the 10 – 50 m 2 /g range and also available in with an average particle size of 100 nm range with a specific surface area of approximately 7- 10 m 2 /g.

“Nano Molybdenum Oxide Particles are also available in ultra high purity, and high purity, transparent, and coated and dispersed forms. . Applications for Molybdenum Oxide Nano-crystals include in electrochemical capacitors, and in coatings, plastics, nano-wire, nano-fiber and textiles and in certain alloy and catalyst applications. Further research is being done for their potential electrical, dielectric, magnetic, optical, imaging, bio-medical and bioscience properties.”

Applications for molybdenum nano-crystals include as a high surface area catalyst and catalyst support and as the catalysts in the synthesis of vertically aligned carbon nano-tubes and in coatings, plastics, nano-wire, nano-fiber and textiles and in certain alloy and catalyst applications.

Super Alloys Created by use of Nano-Particle Reactants

(Courtesy of Materials Research Society: Lab Data)

“Advancements in nano-technology for material processing have spurred the development of super alloys that provide improved protection against corrosion and wear. Nano-scale reactant particles offer unique thermal properties and increased homogeneity that may improve the micro-structural features and macroscopic properties of the final product.

“In this study up to 10-wt % nano-scale molybdenum tri-oxide (MoO3) particles were added to micron scale nickel (Ni) and aluminum (Al). Results show that adding MoO3 increases the flame temperature and produces greater ignition sensitivity produces a more homogeneous microstructure and increases the overall wear resistance of the product.”

Some other uses of nano-particle molybdenum include integrated in paraffin, lubricants, ceramics, nuclear reactor fuel (low enriched uranium), propylene production, high temperature grease, optical fibers, plasma televisions, fuel cells, and much more.

Hollow sphere nano-moly particles now developed show greatly increased effectiveness in the bonding ability of de-sulphurization catalysts. Solar cells are now built on a backing of molybdenum foil. Nano-particle pigment coatings, glass works, dietary and medical products, including artificial limbs.

Weldability of nickel-based superalloys can be approved with ‘weld filler. The invention relates to weld filler which includes these constituents (in wt %): 17.5%-20.0% chromium (Cr), 10.0%-12.0% cobalt (Co), 9.0%-10.5% Molybdenum (Mo) and 0.1%-3.3% titanium.

Hydro De-Sulphurization Catalysts

The unique HDS (Hydro De-Sulphurization) Catalyst aspect of this approach is to use nano-sized MoS2 particles for two reasons:

1. Nano-sizing increases surface area and therefore the number of “active-edge sites” per unit catalyst volume

2. Amorphous nano-particles may overcome steric resistance in sulfur-containing large aromatic molecules making the sulfur susceptible to catalytic attack during HDS.

This approach has three aspects:

o Characterization of sterically hindered organic sulfur compounds that are typically present in crudes but resistant to conventional HDS catalysts,

o Reaction behavior of these sterically hindered sulfur compounds with nano-sized MoS

o Formulation and evaluation of supported nano MoS2-based system for ultra deep catalytic HDS of heavy oils and distillates.

Worldwide, many millions of pounds of molybdenum are annually used in refineries. New refineries are now under construction in Asia, and on the drawing board in various other parts of the world.

Fuel Cells and Batteries

By alloying molybdenum with platinum, and carefully controlling the particle size and loading level of the alloy particles, engineers from the E-Tek Division of De Nora, N.A. have developed Pt-based anode catalysts for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells that show excellent resistance to carbon monoxide poisoning.

APS Physics (March 2007) comments on Nano-Structured Molybdenum Oxides for Lithium-Ion Batteries:

“Lithium-ion batteries are the current power sources of choice for portable electronics. Although such batteries are commercially successful, they are not keeping pace with the rapid advances in computing technologies. Also, further improvement of performance and simultaneous reduction in cost as well as material toxicity remain the subject of intensive research.

“Here we report the synthesis and electrochemical performance of a novel molybdenum oxide nano-particle anode that dramatically improves current Li-ion battery technologies. Crystalline MoO nano-particles have been grown by an economical hot-wire chemical-vapor-deposition (HWCVD) technique and a recently developed electrophoresis technique is employed for the fabrication of porous nano-particle anodes. Both cycling stability and rate capability issues are addressed by employing these porous molybdenum oxide films that consist of nano-scale active particles.

“These materials will impact the next generations of rechargeable lithium batteries, not only for applications in consumer electronics, but also for clean energy storage and use in hybrid electric vehicles.”

More Nano-Particle Uses

Other new uses include development of new molybdenum- (Nano-Particle) strengthened martensitic steels and other Super Alloys. It is also possible to fabricate large-area porous films of molybdenum oxide nano-particles using a novel electrophoresis deposition technique.

Nano-particle films have led to profound advancement in state-of-the-art electrochromic technologies. MoO films are promising for new lithium ion batteries. There are many newly discovered uses as well for nano particle molybdenum in ION space thrusters, space lubricants, space craft metals and even in space telescopes searching the heavens.

Although molybdenum-based catalysts have already been developed for use in the crude oil refinery process and coal liquefaction, the greatest leaps forward could come from the development of nano particle moly-based Catalysts.

Drilling every deep-depth oil well uses as much as 15% Molybdenum for every pound of drill stem steel. Considering the massive number of pounds (tons actually) of drill stem tubing annually used around the globe, I’m sure we would be amazed when extrapolating the actual amount of molybdenum used in just that one sector.

If you also consider that just one kilometer of typical crude oil pipeline uses approximately 2000 pounds of molybdenum in the steel, and there are globally between 80,000 and 100,000 miles of proposed pipeline projects, one can easily visualize the exponential growth pattern of moly demand in years ahead.

As I have stated in past, now you can see why the world is viewing molybdenum in a different light. It isn’t just the demand from China, India or other rapidly developing nations driving the demand, the price and the different uses.

Molybdenum is truly a metal for and of the twenty-first century. It will play an ever increasingly important part of future base metals demand. And this could very well prove a boon to primary molybdenum mining stocks. Many have strongly rallied in the past year as molybdenum prices went north, instead of south as many ‘experts’ forecast.

Primary molybdenum producer Thomson Creek, imminent producer Roca Mines, and near-term producers such as Adanac Molybdenum Corp, Idaho General and Australian-based Moly Mines appear to be the investor favorites for 2007.

How Do I Know If I’ve Been Bugged?

Are you a potential target?

1. If eavesdropping on anything you say, write, or do could increase someone else’s wealth or influence, then the answer is yes, you are a potential target.

2. Others know your confidential business or professional trade secrets.

This is the most obvious indicator of covert eavesdropping activities. Theft of confidential information is a multi-billion dollar underground industry in the United States. Often the loss of your secrets will show up in very subtle ways so you should always trust your instincts in this matter. When your competitors, associates or co-workers know things that are obviously private, or the media finds out about things they should not know, then it is reasonable to suspect technical eavesdropping or bugging.

3. Secret meetings and bids seem to be less than secret.

Confidential meetings and bids are very popular targets for corporate spies. How would you like the plans for the corporate takeovers you’re planning to become public knowledge? Would copies of your product designs be of any use to your competitors? Would it be beneficial for your competitors to know how much you’re quoting for the same project?

4. People seem to know your activities when they shouldn’t.

5. You have noticed strange sounds or volume changes on your phone lines.

This is commonly caused by an amateur eavesdropper when they attach a wiretap, or activate a similar listening device. Surveillance devices often cause slight anomalies on the telephone line such as volume shift or drop-out. Professional eavesdroppers and their equipment usually do not make such noises; so if this is going on it could indicate that an amateur eavesdropper is listening in. On the other hand you could simply be experiencing a flaw in the line, but you should check it out.

6. You have noticed static, popping, or scratching on your phone lines.

This is caused by the capacitive discharge which occurs when two conductors are connected together (such as a bug or wiretap on a phone line). This is also a sign that an amateur eavesdropper or poorly trained spy is playing with your phone lines. It could be nothing more then a problem with your phone line or instrument. However, it should be checked out by using one of our RF Detectors.

7. Sounds are coming from your phones handset when it’s hung up.

This is often caused by a hook switch bypass, which turns the telephone receiver into an eavesdropping microphone (and also a speaker). There is probably somebody listening to everything you say or do within twenty feet of the telephone (if this is happening).

8. Your phone often rings and nobody is there, or a very faint tone, or high-pitched squeal/beep is heard for a fraction of a second.

This is an indicator of a slave device, or line extender being used on your phone line. This is also a key indicator of a harmonica bug, or infinity transmitter being used. Of course it may also be nothing more then a fax machine or modem calling the wrong number. However, using one of our Telephone Line Analyzers. should check it out.

9. You can hear a tone on your line when your phone is on the hook (by using an external amplifier). Contact us!

10. Your AM/FM radio has suddenly developed strange interference.

Many amateur and spy shop eavesdropping devices use frequencies within or just outside the FM radio band, these signals tend to drift and will “quiet” an FM radio in the vicinity of the bug. Look for the transmissions at far ends of the FM radio band, and at any quiet area within the FM band. If the radio begins to squeal then slowly move it around the room until the sound become very high pitched. This is referred to as feedback detection or loop detection and will often locate the bug. The “stereo” function should be turned off so the radio is operating in “mono” as this will provide a serious increase in sensitivity. If you find a “squealer” in this manner then immediately Contact us!

11. Your car radio suddenly starts “getting weird”

Keep in mind that the antenna your car radio uses may be (and often is) exploited by an eavesdropper, and that such usage may interfere with radio reception (so be concerned if your automobile radio suddenly starts getting weird).

12. Your television has suddenly developed strange interference.

Television broadcast frequencies are often used to cloak a eavesdropping signal, but such devices also tend to interfere with television reception (usually a UHF channel). Televisions also “suck in” a lot of RF energy and because of this are very sensitive to any nearby transmitters (this is technically called “Bandwidth, and TV signals use a lot of it). Contact us! asap!

13. You have been the victim of a burglary, but nothing was taken.

Professional eavesdroppers often break into a targets home or office, and very rarely leave direct evidence of the break-in; however, occupants of the premises will often “pickup on something not being right” such as the furniture being moved slightly.

14. Electrical wall plates appear to have been moved slightly or “jarred”.

One of the most popular locations to hide eavesdropping devices is inside, or behind electrical outlets, switches, smoke alarms, and lighting fixtures. This requires that the wall plates be removed. Look for small amounts of debris located on the floor directly below the electrical outlet. Also, watch for slight variations in the color or appearance of the power outlets and/or light switches as these are often swapped out by an eavesdropper. Also note if any of the screws which hold the wallplate against the wall have been moved from their previous position.

15. A dime-sized discoloration has suddenly appeared on the wall or ceiling.

This is a tell tale sign that a pinhole microphone or small covert video camera has been recently installed.

16. One of your vendors just gave you any type of electronic device such as a desk radio, alarm clock, lamp, small TV, boom box, CD player, and so on.

Many of these “gifts” are actually Trojan horses which contain eavesdropping devices. Be very suspicious of any kind of pen, marker, briefcase, calculator, “post-it” dispenser, power adapter, pager, cell phone, cordless phone, clock, radio, lamp, and so on that is given as a gift. That little gift the salesman left for you may be a serious hazard.

17. A small bump or deformation has appeared on the vinyl baseboard near the floor.

Strong indicator that someone may have concealed covert wiring or a microphone imbedded into the adhesive which holds the molding to the wall. Such deformation will often appear as a color shift, or lightening of the color.

18. The smoke detector, clock, lamp, or exit sign in your office or home looks slightly crooked, has a small hole in the surface, or has a quasi-reflective surface.

These items are very popular concealment for covert eavesdropping devices. Often when these devices are installed at a target location they are rarely installed without small tale-tale clues.

19. Certain types of items have “just appeared” in your office or home, but nobody seems to know how they got there.
Typical items to watch for and be aware of are: clocks, exit signs, sprinkler heads, radios, picture frames, and lamps.

20. White dry-wall dust or debris is noticed on the floor next to the wall.

A sign that a pinhole microphone or video camera may have been installed nearby. It will appear as if someone has dropped a small amount of powdered sugar either on the floor, or on the wall.

21. You notice small pieces of ceiling tiles, or “grit” on the floor, or on the surface area of your desk. Also, you may observe a cracked, chipped, or gouged ceiling tiles, or ones that are sagging, or not properly set into the track.

Prime indicator that a ceiling tile has been moved around, and that someone may have installed a hidden video camera or other eavesdropping device in your office or near your desk. Also watch for cracks or chips in the ceiling tiles. Amateur and poorly trained spies tend to crack or damage acoustical tiles. The ceiling tiles in any executive areas should never contain any cracks, nicks, gouges, or stains. Any ceiling tile that becomes damaged (for what ever reason) should immediately be replaced and the cause of the damage documented.

22. You notice that “Phone Company” trucks and utilities workers are spending a lot of time near your home or office doing repair work.

If you see the same or similar vehicles more then three times then you may have a serious problem (at least according to the U.S. State Department training course on counter surveillance).

23. Telephone, cable, plumbing, or air conditioning repair people show up to do work when no one called them.

A very common ruse which eavesdroppers use to get into a facility is to fake a utility outage, and then show up to fix the problem. While they are fixing “the problem” they are also installing eavesdropping devices. Some of the more popular outages involve power, air conditioning, telephone, and even the occasional false fire alarm.

24. Service or delivery trucks are often parked nearby with nobody (you can see) in them.

These vehicles are commonly used as listening posts, be very cautious of any vehicle, which has a ladder or pipe rack on the roof. Also, be wary of any vehicle, which has tinted windows, or an area, which you cannot see though (like a service van). The listening post vehicle could be any vehicle from a small Geo Tracker, Suburban, Blazer, Trooper, or Cargo Van. Look for any vehicle, which could conceal a person in the back or has tinted windows. Also, keep in mind that the eavesdropper may relocate the vehicle several times, so look around. Typically, eavesdroppers like to get within 500-750 feet from the place or person they are eavesdropping on.

25. Your door locks suddenly don’t “feel right”, they suddenly start to get “sticky”, or they completely fail.

Prime evidence that the lock has been picked, manipulated, or bypassed. Try to always use biaxial locks with sidebars (such as ASSA or Medeco). Also, only use double sided deadbolts in all doors, and good quality window bars on all windows, and a good quality door bar on all doors not used as a primary entry doors.

26. Furniture has been moved slightly, and no one knows why.

A very popular location for the installation of eavesdropping device is either behind, or inside furniture (couch, chair, lamp, etc.) People who live or work in a targeted area tend to notice when furnishings have been moved even a fraction of an inch. Pay close attention to the imprint which furniture makes on rugs, and the position of lamps shades. Also watch the distance between furniture and the wall as eavesdroppers are usually in a hurry and rarely put the furniture back in the right place.

27. Things “seem” to have been rummaged through, but nothing is missing (at least that you noticed).

A “less than professional spy” will often rummage through a targets home for hours, but very rarely will they do it in a neat and orderly fashion. The most common “rummaging” targets are the backs of desk drawers, the bottom of file cabinets, closets, and dresser drawers.

28. An eavesdropper sends you a copy of your private conversations.

As simple as it seems this is the strongest indicator, and solid proof of eavesdropping. An eavesdropper will sometimes send a victim a copy of a private conversation they intercepted in an attempt at blackmail, or in an attempt to terrorize, or to just stalk the victim. This is commonly seen in civil lawsuits, criminal court cases, marital problems, shareholder disputes, custody battles, and other situations were one side has a position of weakness and is trying to physiologically undermine their opponent.

When contacting please remember not to call from any suspect area, do not use your cellular telephone, do not use your cordless phone, and do not use any suspect telephone (instead call from a sterile phone somewhere outside the suspect area).

Who Gets Bugged?

High Threat Business Situations

* Your company has stock, which is publicly traded (or will be soon)
* Your company is having labor problems, union activities, or negotiations
* Your company is involved in any type of litigation or lawsuit
* Your company has layoffs pending (or they have just happened)
* Your company is involved in the fashion, automotive, advertising, or marketing industry

Anyone can be the target of covert eavesdropping, however; some people are under greater risk than others because of financial position, occupation, legal, or domestic situation.

* Spouses bug each other on a regular basis

* Parents bug children

* Businessmen bug other businessmen

* Scientists bug other scientists

* Students bug professors

* Attorneys bug other attorneys (and their clients)

* Insurance companies bug accident victims, and other claimants

* Construction companies bug other construction companies

* Salesmen bug clients

* Collection agencies bug debtors

* Police officers bug suspects

* Executive recruiters bug personnel directors

* Rock fans bug rock musicians

* Department stores bug customers and merchandise

The Neighbors, Coworkers, Friends, Enemies, Strangers, Your Spouse, Industrial Spies, Government Agents, Your Insurance Company, Your Boss…

High Threat Personal Situations (When to be seriously concerned)

You (or someone close to you) have been:

* Involved in any type of litigation or lawsuit

* Been questioned, arrested or arraigned by the police

* In the process of getting married, divorced, or separated

* A minister or religious leader (ie: priest, rabbi, deacon, bishop, elder…)

* Running for any type of elected public office

* Elected to any public office (ie: mayor, selectman, school principal)

* Executive or scientist at any large company

* Recently filed a insurance claim

* Engaging in political demonstrations or activism

* Employed by a defense contractor, Department of Energy, etc…

* Private Investigators have been “poking” around

* You are in the upper income bracket

Keep in mind that anybody with Money, Power, Influence, or access to sensitive, classified, or personal information is at serious personal risk.

On a related note: If you work (or have worked) for any kind of military, governmental, law enforcement or judicial agency the possibility of you being targeted for eavesdropping is very high. Such eavesdropping can come from either side of the law, and is rarely legal or court sanctioned.

Additionally, people married to, associated with, divorced from, getting divorced from, dating, or getting intimate with a member of law enforcement, private security, PI, or any level of the judicial system should be concerned about illegal eavesdropping (yes, cops love to bug their wives and girlfriends).

High Threat Occupations

* Attorney

* Doctor

* Chiropractor

* Dentist

* Architect

* Police Officer

* Court Clerk

* Judge

* Elected to any public office

* Mayor

* Selectman

* School Principal

* College Professor

* Product Engineer

* Software Developer

* Executive at any large company

* Scientist at any large company

* Employed by any defense contractor

* Employed by the Department of Energy

* Any minister or religious leader (ie: deacon, bishop, elder…)

* Corporate Buyer or Purchasing Agent

* Employee of a Construction Contractor

* Any type Sales or Marketing

* Labor or Union Official

* Fashion

* Advertising

* Personnel Directors

According the FBI the following types of businesses are under EXTREME risk and are popular targets of illegal bugging, wiretapping, and similar surveillance:

* Materials: Materials synthesis and processing

* Electronic and photonic materials

* Ceramics

* Composites

* High-performance metals and alloys


* Flexible computer-integrated manufacturing

* Intelligence processing equipment

* Micro- and nanofabrication

* Systems management technologies

Information and Communications:

* Software

* Micro and optoelectronics

* High-performance computing and networking

* High-definition imaging and displays

* Sensors and signal processing

* Data storage and peripherals

* Computer simulation and modeling

Biotechnology and Life Sciences:

* Applied molecular biology

* Computational Chemistry

* Medical technology


* Aeronautics

* Surface transportation technologies

Energy and Environment:

* Energy technologies

* Pollution minimization, remediation, and waste management

Fine Tuning Material Management in the Healthcare Industry

Exploring the benefits of standardizing your inventory management system all the way to the supply closet.

As the ramifications of the world’s financial crisis become more apparent, businesses, institutions and organizations are taking stock of how they operate in an effort to cut costs and cope with budgetary problems. Those who depend, in part, on endowment income, including hospitals and health-care organizations, as an example of a major segment in the service industry, have less money to work with and are hard-pressed to maintain standards with shrinking budgets. By fine-tuning their materials management, they can save money and also serve as an example for a wide variety of businesses and institutions.

Virtually every hospital, medical center, and ambulatory clinic has a materials management department that is responsible for receiving supplies, maintaining a central inventory, and delivering supplies throughout the organization. Unfortunately, this is usually where the scope of the materials management department ends.

A closer look into a nursing unit, OR suite, or exam floor reveals a smaller, self-managed inventory in supply closets, nurses’ stations, and individual rooms. Although this is often necessary to keep supplies readily available at the point of use, the burden of maintaining the supply falls on the nurse and detracts from his or her primary job function: providing patient care.

Every patient-care area is unique within an organization and has different supply requirements based on the types of patients being seen, the level of care being provided, and even provider preference. Expecting a materials management organization to understand patient and provider needs may be a tall order, but with a historical look at what an area uses, and input from clinical staff, an inventory management system that extends all the way to the point of care is not out of reach.

True demand for supplies

The challenge in extending the control of a materials management department is mainly in understanding the true demand for supplies from each patient-care area. Nurses order supplies when they “feel” like they need more, or when inventory “looks low,” because they lack the tools to understand when the inventory is actually running low.

Applying lean principles to get rid of waste and organize can help clarify the situation by removing materials that are not needed to provide patient care and creating standard locations for supplies so there is no “hidden inventory” in closets and cabinets.

Unfortunately, the question of how much to keep on hand remains. To create a guideline, use the historical ordering patterns of the area. Orders might come grouped in large numbers on a weekly basis, but the unit volume can be used to understand the daily demand of the area. Keep in mind that demand numbers need to be vetted with the clinical staff to make sure they are realistic.

Once a daily demand has been established, a “par level” can be defined based on the organization’s preference for frequency of replenishment and tolerance for stock-outs. The inventory locations can then be labeled with the type of supply and the par level, so anyone walking into a supply closet or opening a cabinet can quickly assess which supplies are running low.

As supply locations become standardized, individual units and patient-care areas will no longer have outlandish supply requirements that materials management cannot understand; rather, it becomes just another inventory location with part numbers and par levels that need to be maintained.

Inventory turns increase as levels are changed to reflect demand, and outdated material is virtually eliminated as FIFO strategies that are applied in warehouses are brought to the unit level. An expediter can assess inventory levels on a regular basis and place orders on behalf of the unit, removing this responsibility from the nursing staff. Changes in demand can be quickly addressed because orders are based on usage rather than gut feeling, and the materials management department can adjust par levels and order quantities appropriately.

Setting inventory schedules

This standardization can result in improved efficiency, as set schedules are established for inventory counts and replenishment. Rather than delivering to every floor every day, inventory levels can be set to accommodate a strategy of defined order and delivery days for each area. This strategy should account for area proximity and supply commonality to reduce overall delivery time for each expediter.

The extension of materials management into clinical areas also has implications for central inventory. As order quantities and timing become more predictable, inventory levels in the central stores can be driven lower. Central stores no longer have to be prepared for large orders that could come in at anytime; instead, they can expect orders that arrive at standard intervals for known quantities. The inventory manager will have better insight into the organization’s needs and be able to set par levels accordingly.

More sophisticated organizations take this practice a step further and use it as an enabler for vendor-managed inventory. Either in the central stores area or within the clinical space, a clearly defined inventory management strategy for each supply allows strategic suppliers to manage their own inventories, greatly reducing inventory levels throughout the organization and reducing the demand for materials management personnel.

Inventory levels in hospitals or any organization can be enhanced by studying the warehouse or central storing area more closely. Delivery times can be improved by determining which departments should get their deliveries at different times during the day, taking into consideration that the last shipment of the day should be appropriate for the next morning’s needs.

If the health-care provider can reduce its inventory of medical and other supplies, it will improve its cash flow; if lower-paid employees can manage the inventory instead of highly paid staff, money can be saved.

Instead of having nurses manage the inventory, materials management personnel using bar-coding and automated dispensing machines can manage more expensive unit-price items, such as medicines. Replenishment cycles can be further improved by using interchangeable drawers in storage containers to replace expensive workers.

As health-care budgets swell and patient demand increases, it’s increasingly important for health-care organizations to focus on the effective use of their resources. Increasing the scope of the materials management organization is a relatively easy way to improve resource utilization: nurses spend more time delivering patient care, the materials management staff can better plan its work to meet the needs of clinical areas without increasing FTEs, and the organization’s financial resources are no longer tied up in high and hidden inventory.