Wire and Cable Inventory Management for Cut-to-Length Distributors

There was a time, early in the advent of cut-to-length wire distribution, when you couldn’t enter an electrical warehouse without hearing that familiar call: “How much wire is left on that reel?”

Cut-to-length imparts tremendous value to electrical contractors, but it introduces logistical headaches to distributors. Rather than purchase a whole reel, contractors ask only for what they need to complete the given job — and receive their order on a ready-to-pull cable reel, often with pulling eyes already attached.

That leaves the distributor with lots of partial reels, and partial reels can hide unwelcome surprises. You might start filling an order only to discover that there isn’t enough wire left to complete the job. And when it’s time to run inventory, your warehouse manager will lose a lot of sleep.

That was the case, that is, until not too long ago.

ERPs for Continuous-Length Products Improve Wire Inventory

The industry heaved a grateful sigh when, around the arrival of the new millennium, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software modules became available for conducting inventory management on continuous-length products (wire and cable, yes, but also rope, hose, tubing, etcetera).

These software solutions can combine data from sales, inventory, purchasing, and more business functions into a single database, generating real-time reports that answer the question, “How much wire is on that reel?”

That is, they answer the question if reporting is accurate. Many cut-to-length distributors rely on human measurements and data entry in which a single typo can cause delays in future orders. Imagine an employee enters digits into the wrong field; what the system thinks is a full reel could turn out to be half-depleted when the time comes to fill the next order.

The solution is a kind of low-impact automation. Keep the employees, but leave the measurement to a machine.

Cable Counting Spool Winding Trolleys

Spool Winding Trolleys from BHS solve two problems at once. They fill single or multiple reels with one or more runs of cable without manual exertion, and they count the order’s foot-length while they do it.

The integrated triple-wide encoder tracks cable with a highly accurate, single-revolution-to-single-foot of product. There’s no need to overshoot the mark for safety’s sake, which cuts down on waste tremendously.

And, with this encoder in place, the BHS Spool Winding Trolley is ready for the ultimate fix for inventory confusion at the electrical distribution center.

The Next Step: IIoT Inventory Management for Cut-to-Length Wire Distributors

Accurate, automated reporting is in place. The software systems that can track changes in reel fillage are in place. All that remains is to make the two talk to one another, and you’ve got a 21st-century solution to a long-standing problem in wire distribution.

That solution will be here before you know it. Keep watching; BHS, Inc. is on the forefront of IIoT solutions in the electrical distribution field. Soon, measurement errors and reporting typos will be things of the past.

The IIoT future is here, and it’s about to make inventory management in cut-to-length wire distribution a lot more productive, accurate, safe, and, ultimately, profitable.


Chandler, Doug. “Wire World.EWWeb. Informa, USA, Inc., 1 Sept. 2003. Web. 14 Sept. 2019.