I have a team of 20 students who travel and another 10-20 who join and don’t typically make it through build season or just go to one local competition.
- Do you have one dedicated person for ordering parts? If so, how do they know what to order? Is this a student ? A student and mentor?
I do 98% of the ordering as the mentor. The majority is done through McMaster-Carr. Specialty items through AndyMark, Vex, and the other FIRST suppliers.
In the fall I/we make one major fastener, electrical, and generic supply order. We sit down, inventory what’s left over, throw out junk, and make a list with the students. This typically takes one Saturday.
During build, we have a list on the table of the new items I need to order. Since we aren’t really able to truly CAD this stuff, we kindof order every single day. I had 40 separate McMaster-Carr invoices last year. If I order by 10 am, I have the stuff that night for build.
- How do you handle team finances? Do you have a student treasurer?
We have three separate accounts - the school budget line which I am solely responsible for, the student activities account which I oversee but have a student treasurer, and the grant money which goes into the 501 ©(3) sponsor’s account and is handled by myself and another mentor who is the treasurer of that organization.
The students are 100% responsible for their student activities account, which is where their fundraising goes. This account covers trip expenses, excluding bus. When it is time to travel, we know the cost of the trip and they determine how much needs to come out of their pocket that they haven’t raised.
- How do you handle inventory? i.e. when parts are depleted who notifies the person who orders or adds them to the order list?
We don’t keep an “inventory”. As the individual who orders, when we finalize the items on the robot, anything that might break goes on a separate spare parts list. I make one order to McMaster-Carr for those items the week after bag day so we have spare parts. When we order motors or wheels we just order extra to start with. I would love to have a student do this, but it typically ends up being the other adult mentor and myself. When stuff is replaced from our spare parts during competition 1, we order more for competition 2, etc. At the end of the season, anything we really don’t need I send back to McMaster for a credit (ie, the expensive robot specific pneumatic that we had a spare of that didn’t break, etc.).
- How do you handle broken/missing tools? i.e. know that they have been broken/lost so that you can replace them?
We break drill bits and endmills. It goes on the daily list and I order it the next day. The students know they aren’t in trouble if it breaks, just tell me so I can get another one. We try to figure out why it broke in the first place so it doesn’t happen again. Tools (other than screwdrivers and allen keys) rarely break.