Organization Methods

Hello everyone,

I’ve decided I should ask the community for general good practices and advice on keeping a well organized parts storage system, as well as tool storage system. As well as how to keep your shop in good shape throughout the season. You might think this is common sense sort of stuff, but you’d be surprised. 4901 and other team’s I’ve been a part of have some trouble with it, no matter how I may have attempted to rectify it. (Mainly because I’m bad at it too.)

I’ve seen some amazingly clean pits and I’m sure that some people manage to keep their home shops in the same shape. For example I know for 4451 that’s the case, but I also know their mentors and their facility better than most as well.

How do you do it? I saw some really cool things done by 254 at Championship and how it seemed they had a 1’x6" tub for different parts laid on their shelves in stacks based on components. I thought that maybe I could use that premise to begin upon, but I thought I’d ask around as see what else there is since I still have yet been to a competition in my 8 years where I get to visit with teams in depth.

I think that 254’s organization is great (mostly because our head mentor is super OCD). We use 2 types of bins at competition and in the shop. We a set of small, thin bins like you described for competition parts (high quality screws and such) and another set of thin bins for reused parts (mostly for prototyping). We also use tons of medium-sized white-topped bins to hold things like spare sub-assemblies, electronics, and other larger things (like hot glue guns).

In the pits, all these bins fit on our 4’ long shelves. At the lab, these bins go on bigger wooden shelves to hold everything. Also at the lab, we have a small wall with a bunch of small plastic tubs are all labeled and are always placed on their corresponding label on the shelf. We need all these bins to store all the random scrap and stuff we’ve accrued over the years.

We like to use so many bins because it not only looks nice, but also makes it super fast to locate and put away things. Even freshmen are able to correctly use and clean up most every part/tool in the lab.

This summer we may also be working on a battery organization shelf similar to 973’s.

Hope that helps!

I’m curious to know how teams organize scrap materials. If things get really short (less than 4") or really mangled we’ll scrap them for cash. But we still have a lot (A LOT) of short 1x1, 1x2’s, 80/20, as well as various size plate and we currently have them just in totes. It keeps things organized as far as “plate goes here, and tube goes here,” and things are more or less put away. However the totes are so full and it is so difficult to find a piece that you are looking for, students (and mentors too) just grab a new full length stick and cut what they need from there. Do teams have any creative ways of organizing scrap materials or any processes that ensure that this material gets used prior to a new stick?

We have a cabinet that looks like a cross between a metal file cabinet and an old-school library card cabinet. All the drawers are labelled with a specific size and wall thickness of extruded stock, and we keep all our shorts (anything about 14" or under, down to stuff only a couple inches long) in there, and look their first before cutting a new piece. It takes a bunch of space to have every stock size we used organized, and some sizes need multiple drawers, but it’s worth it to always be able to grab a piece and be able to start machining right away. We do a similar thing for shaft stock and spacer material, but with a smaller cabinet. Try hitting up garage sales and second-hand stores, and you will probably be able to find a drawer system for very little money that gets the job done.

This year our robot used a system of hooks to stack totes. After we finish our off-season events, we’re going to take those hooks off the robot, hang them on the wall, and use them to hod our totes, and use the totes for parts storage. Some of our totes are different colors, so we’ll be using sort of a color coding system to organize them

That sounds like a good way of doing it. We don’t have too much space to work with but could probably build something similar to this.

We haven’t found anything that works yet. However, just yesterday, we created a quartermaster department, with a dedicated mentor and a few students. The rule is now that only those individuals can enter the [strike]kitchen[/strike] storeroom. I don’t know if they’ve worked out how to manage “project boxes” which we’ve used over the years to keep all of the half-manufactured parts and assemblies and custom-purchased hardware for a project together. I’m hoping that they won’t change it much other than to ensure that we keep tools out of the boxes, and dismantle them as soon as the project is over, both of which have been an issue in the past.