What Does a Supply Clerk Do?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Supply clerks are individuals who are charged with the responsibility of managing the supply areas of companies in a manner that ensures that all essential supplies necessary for the continued operation of the business are available in sufficient quantities. Typically, the supply clerk will work in tandem with departmental supervisors and purchasing agents to determine the quantity of different items to keep on hand and to develop criteria for reordering based on usage patterns as a means of keeping the supply inventory within reasonable limits. In order to accomplish this, a supply clerk will manage the processes used to disburse items from the supply room inventory, conduct periodic inventory reconciliations to ensure the accuracy of supply room records, and initiate requisitions to purchase agents that are in turned assigned a purchase order number and placed with vendors for order fulfillment.

Supply clerks are responsible for inventory control.
Supply clerks are responsible for inventory control.

One of the main tasks of a supply clerk is to maintain accurate records of both the type and quantity of items that are housed in the supply room. In decades past, this was often managed with some type of manual filing system that made it possible to quickly post receipts of recently received goods while also posting disbursals of items to different departments. As part of the process, authorized individuals from those departments would fill out a simple request for certain parts or other items, noting the department that would receive those goods. The supply clerk would use the request to pull the item and quantity from the inventory and deliver those items to that department representative. At that point, the request form would be updated with the date and time of the disbursal, signed by the department representative, and then used by the supply clerk to subtract that quantity and type of good from the inventory records.

A supply clerk is often tasked with signing for deliveries in a retail or manufacturing environment.
A supply clerk is often tasked with signing for deliveries in a retail or manufacturing environment.

A supply clerk would also make use of copies of bills of lading and packing lists to receive inbound goods and add them to the inventory. Typically, the goods would be inspected before acceptance then signed for and assigned a specific location within the supply room for storage. The assignment of specific locations made it easier to retrieve the goods when and as needed by different departments, and also minimized the chances for errors in unit counts.

Today, technology allows the supply clerk to quickly enter updates to the supply inventory via a computer database. The database can be programmed to identify any item that is near the minimum units to keep on hand, providing the clerk with the ability to quickly prepare and submit requisitions for reordering. Use of a supply database also aids in an ongoing task common to many supply systems, known as a cycle count. Essentially, a cycle count is a periodic physical count of all items in the inventory, and is used to reconcile any discrepancies that may exist between the supply records and the actual number of units of each item found in the inventory. This task makes it possible to allow for any differences that may occur due to errors in counting or parts and other equipment that may be declared obsolete, and aids in making sure essential supplies are always available when needed.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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