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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)

Stores Branch Reorganisation

page 12

Stores Branch Reorganisation

Storage and Distribution of Railway Supplies

The New System Under Way

The Railways Stores system throughout New Zealand is now in course of re-organisation, and the work of putting the new methods into operation has already been completed at a number of stores. These include the lately established sub-stores and trust stores set up, apart from the Main stores at Petone and Wellington, for the purpose of facilitating distribution and economising material.

Four main points have been studied in developing the change. These are:—Adequacy of Storage Room; Simplicity in Accounting; Prompt Delivery; and Accurate Recording.


The racks and shelves now provided are so arranged that none are higher than can be reached conveniently by the storeman from the floor level. There is thus no need for a ladder in these modern stores.

The tiers of shelves are separated by aisles, at the end of each of which is a window. Thus ample light reaches every part of the storage area. Sufficient passage room is left to allow of trollies being run from any part of the building to the delivery door. Everything on hand is visible and immediately available. Each compartment bears a description of contents, and cards, in slots, are provided on which to record each receipt and issue.

The commodities are kept so arranged in their respective compartments that they may be counted rapidly by the unit, dozen, score or ndred. Neat metal trays are provided for nall items of the ring, nut or rivet variety—little things likely to scatter about if not carefully cribbed, cabined, and confined.

Typical Stores Interior

Typical Stores Interior


A comparison of the card with the stock shows immediately whether the accounting has been accurate. Other entries on the stock-card indicate the minimum and maximum amounts of that particular commodity permitted to be held in stock. The card is thus a constant reminder to the stores staff as to when, and in what quantities, replacements should be ordered. Besides this, it records the rate value of the stock shown upon it. The stock-card is really the key to the situation.

The efficiency of the storing arrangements permits of the limitation of supplies for workshops use to the actual requirements of each job. The Stores Branch now deals in issues of small lines down to two ounces in weight, or a single item in number.

We saw a carpenter call in to replenish his bag with two-inch nails. He passed in an order for the quantity required to complete the job he was on. The Storeman took the Loco-40, pushed his scale equipped trolly opposite the right rack, weighed out the quantity ordered, ran his trolly to the delivery counter, tipped the contents of the scoop into the carpenter's pouch, and took a receipt on the docket. Good quick work, where the time taken was negligible, and the security value inestimable.

When the new workshops are established the introduction of the ideal system can be completed, whereby labour costs may be materially reduced and stoppages of machinery prevented. For idle machines always mean an increased percentage of overhead costs.

Now the Loco-40 goes to the stores clerk, who costs up the issue and sends the docket, with all others received during the day and a covering summary, to the costing department, where it is dealt with the following morning. Copies are, at the same time, sent to the chief accountant.

By this method, the actual cost of material for any piece of work is readily available within a few hours of its performance.

page 13

The stores clerk's check when costing has been completed is a protection against failures by storemen to carry out instructions. A reading of the stock-cards with a corresponding check of the items shown makes stock-taking a matter of the greatest simplicity instead of a month's nightmare annually.

Benefits of the New System.

Supposing more material is ordered than is actually required for any job, the surplus, instead of lying around, untended, on the chance of being required later for some other job, is now taken back into stores stock, and credit is allowed at the actual rate charged when the stores were issued. This system prevents waste and the undue depletion of stocks. It also facilitates accurate costing. The position is that all stocks not in actual use are now stores stocks.

Under the new system, stores which had been withdrawn from stock for various purposes, but not used, have been taken back into the stock of the stores department, and are available for re-issue as required.

An interchange of stock-sheets between the various stores throughout New Zealand gives each storekeeper knowledge of what other stores hold. This increases the availability of stocks on hand for supplying the needs of other districts, while helping to reduce the proportion of slow-moving stores on hand.

Practically all the manufactures of the workshops are now being taken over by the Stores Branch. This will enable a control to be exercised over the quantities manufactured in each centre according to Dominion needs. This control will also apply to stocks of manufactured goods held in sub- and trust-stores throughout the whole system, and it is expected will extend to the hundreds of running-sheds and depots of various kinds, all of which have drawn manufactured goods from the workshops. Their stocks will be examined and recorded, maximum and minimum supplies decided upon, surpluses and deficits noted, and the whole summarised and re-allocated. Thus will the control of manufacture, to prevent either over or under-production, be made feasible.

The stage of full efficiency in Stores re-organisation, a work which has been under way since the general re-organisation throughout the Department was undertaken, has not yet been reached. The work is one of great magnitude, but what has been said given a good notion of the ideal which the Management of the Stores Branch has set out to attain.

The Railways of India

“Whatever may be the verdict of posterity on British rule in India during the past fifty years,” says Engineering, “the railways constructed by us in the country during that time must cause any future impartial critic to be predisposed towards the British nation. Perhaps no other type of activity better reflects the perseverance and constructive genius of our race, for the history of Railway building in our great Eastern Empire contains innumerable records of the conquest of almost insuperable obstacles, material, climatic and politic. Since it has been recognised that the administrative qualities of the Romans were evident no less from their public works than from their legal code, we appear to be rightly entitled to some measure of appreciation for our accomplishment of providing a great undeveloped territory with a serviceable transport system.”

Not only in India has the perseverance and constructive genius of the British race revealed itself in the provision of serviceable railway transport systems. It is questionable if in any country of the world have greater physical obstacles yielded to the genius of railway engineers than in New Zealand, whose railway history, but half a century old, offers us on the one hand the solution of geological and mechanical problems of extraordinary difficulty, and on the other, the reality of a transportation system responsive to the demands of commerce in our own day, and prophetic of the great future before this Dominion.

Low New Zealand Railway Freight Charges

From the Ton Mileage Return prepared in the Chief Accountant's office for last year's operations, it appears that the average cost throughout New Zealand of hauling one ton one mile by rail was less than 2½d. The figure, correct to two decimal places, was 2.31d.

In view of the great difference in density of traffic, this compares very favourably with that given for the French and German railways, viz., 2.20d.

The average distance goods were hauled ove our Railways was 61 miles, so that the average total charge for a ton weight of goods conveyed by train was only 11s. 9d.

This low figure shows further to how small an extent does the average railage charge affect the cost of commodities to the consumer.