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What Does Economic Order Quantity Mean and Why Is It Important?

Shawn Coultice
Posted by Shawn Coultice on Dec 18, 2023 11:56:26 AM

Economic Order Quantity, commonly known as EOQ, is a mathematical model designed to help companies strike a balance between holding excessive inventory and risking stockouts. 

It is a vital tool that allows manufacturing companies to optimize their ordering strategies, minimize costs, and improve overall operational efficiency. 

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of EOQ and how it can help simplify inventory management.

Economic Order Quantity is a formula used to determine the optimal order quantity that minimizes the costs of purchasing and holding inventory. Its primary goal is to help manufacturing companies find an inventory sweet spot.

The EOQ Formula Explained

The Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) formula considers three key variables:

  • Demand
  • Ordering cost
  • Carrying cost 

The EOQ formula is: EOQ = sqrt((2 * D * S) / H)


  • EOQ = Economic Order Quantity
    • The optimal order quantity
  • D = Annual demand
    • The number of units required per year
  • S = Ordering cost per order
    • The cost associated with placing and receiving an order
  • H = Carrying cost per unit per year
    • The cost associated with holding or carrying one unit of inventory for a year 

Before using the formula, ensure your numbers are accurate. This will ensure you are getting the most accurate order quantity. Once you’ve found your total, you’ll know the number of units to order to achieve the most cost-efficient inventory levels. 

Before we move on, let's break down each variable in the EOQ formula.

Demand (D)

Demand represents the rate at which a company's products are consumed or sold within a given period. It is typically expressed as the number of units required over a specific timeframe, such as a month or a year. 

Accurate demand forecasting is essential for EOQ calculations because it helps determine how frequently orders need to be placed and in what quantities. Fluctuations in demand can significantly impact the EOQ, as:

  • Higher demand may necessitate larger order quantities
  • Lower demand might allow for smaller orders

Ordering Cost (S)

Ordering cost, sometimes called setup cost, includes all the expenses needed to place and receive an order for a product. These costs include:

  • Preparing purchase orders
  • Paperwork
  • Transportation
  • Inspections upon delivery

Lowering ordering costs generally encourages smaller, more frequent orders, whereas higher ordering costs favor larger, less frequent orders.

EOQ aims to balance these costs by determining the order quantity that minimizes the total ordering cost.

Carrying Cost (H)

Carrying costs are the expenses incurred by a company for holding or storing inventory over a specific period. These costs can include:

  • Warehousing
  • Insurance
  • Depreciation
  • Obsolescence
  • The cost of capital in inventory

EOQ considers the trade-off between ordering in larger quantities to minimize ordering costs and ordering in smaller quantities to reduce carrying costs. The goal is to find the order quantity that minimizes the total carrying cost. 

Holding Period (Holding Time)

The holding period refers to the average duration a company holds or stores a particular quantity of inventory before it is sold or used.

This period is essential because the longer a company maintains inventory, the more it incurs carrying costs.

In the EOQ model, finding the optimal order quantity helps minimize the holding period and associated carrying costs. The EOQ formula considers this holding period as a factor in determining the most cost-effective order quantity.

Unit Cost (C)

Unit cost is incurred by a company to produce, purchase, or procure a single unit of a specific product or item. This cost encompasses various expenses directly related to obtaining the inventory item, including but not limited to:

  • Manufacturing
  • Purchase
  • Shipping

In the EOQ model, unit cost is critical because it directly impacts the total inventory cost.

Why is an Economic Order Quantity Important?

Understanding EOQ is essential for any business seeking to enhance profitability and streamline its supply chain operations.

Minimizes holding costs

By ordering the right amount of inventory, businesses can avoid:

  • Overstocking (which ties up capital in excess inventory and incurs storage costs)
  • Understocking (which can lead to lost sales and customer dissatisfaction)

This balance ensures that holding costs are minimized, enhancing overall profitability.

Reduces order costing

EOQ calculates the order quantity that minimizes the number of orders placed, thus reducing ordering costs by consolidating orders into larger, less frequent quantities.

Balances inventory and demand

By optimizing order quantities based on demand forecasts, businesses can reduce the likelihood of:

  • Stockouts (insufficient inventory to meet customer demand)
  • Overages (excessive inventory that becomes obsolete or carries holding costs)

This balance ensures that customers' needs are consistently met while avoiding excess or insufficient stock.

Improves cash flow

EOQ helps improve cash flow by minimizing the amount of capital tied up in inventory.

Ordering enormous quantities can strain a company's finances, whereas EOQ allows businesses to allocate their money more efficiently. This optimization ensures that available funds can be used for other investments or operational needs, improving overall financial stability.

Simplifies inventory management

EOQ simplifies inventory management by providing a clear and structured method for determining order quantities. The straightforward formula reduces the complexity of inventory decision-making and allows businesses to make informed and consistent choices regarding their inventory levels.

By using software to calculate Economic Order Quantity (EOQ), set reorder points, and manage safety stock levels, manufacturing companies can avoid costly stockouts and optimize their inventory levels, saving time and money.

Topics: Inventory


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