Parts inventory management has always been a critical and complex challenge. Having the right part in the right quantity at the right time and in the right place requires planning, precision, and balance.
When stocking parts inventory, consider factors including lead time, consumption rate, the costs associated with storage, and the potential costs and consequences that would be incurred if you did not have a needed part.
2. Set agreed-upon parts stocking and reorder points
This can help you avoid a feast-or-famine scenario where you have excessive parts inventory — or not enough. Standardize your methods for determining when and whether to stock a part — and in what quantity. Using consistent criteria to make parts inventory decisions can streamline the process, make it easier to identify priorities, and make communicating decisions easier.
3. Improve your supply chain management
Materials providers, shipping partners, and other parties directly impact your spare parts inventory. Though you cannot singlehandedly eliminate supply chain issues, you can take steps to optimize your relationships with your suppliers and shippers. Good two-way communication is essential. Track lead times using a parts inventory software to identify potential slowdowns or bottlenecks.
4. Use data to drive parts inventory decisions
Start with usage probabilities and optimize your parts inventory over time. Parts inventory management software goes beyond spreadsheets to integrate with other tools, reduce manual data entry, and make tracking easier and more accurate.
5. Ensure inventory accuracy
Conduct a cycle count to match your physical parts inventory with your inventory records. Cycle counting is a method designed to fit into your normal operations. A parts inventory software solution makes accurately tracking your inventory easier.
There are multiple inventory accounting methods. A first in, first out (FIFO) strategy is important if your inventory includes any parts or products that have limited shelf lives, such as chemicals or pharmaceutical ingredients. Track all of their expiration dates in parts inventory software to avoid spoilage.
Material management is a storeroom technique for parts inventory management. It governs how organizations plan, organize, and control the flow of materials from purchase to delivery. The mission of any materials management program is to keep the right parts in the right quantity, at the right location and time, with the right level of quality at the lowest possible cost.
Worker Roles for Inventory Parts Management Success
The purpose of the maintenance storeroom is to house materials in a safe, clean, secure, and organized environment. As a result, three primary aspects make up the materials management process:
- Acquisition – Parts procurement (right parts, right quantity, right quality, lowest total cost)
- Control – Stores
- Movement – Logistics (right place, right time)
Planners generally trigger materials requisitions, determining the specific materials needed. They determine items, quantities, and dates for each work order. Procurement personnel is responsible for ordering exactly what the planner needs from approved vendors. Vendors provide parts that meet prescribed specifications. After delivery, personnel properly handle and control items in the warehouse area until needed in the field. At that point, logistics personnel arrange materials movements to the final destination.
In most organizations, maintenance storeroom personnel complete material movement, which means that Logistics and Stores are the same teams. Stores teams embed in the middle of the material flow, so they can affect every one of the elements of the mission.
Potential Pitfalls of Parts Management in the Maintenance Storeroom
There are a few unsuspected difficulties when managing a maintenance storeroom. These pitfalls include having the wrong parts in the wrong quantity, parts in the wrong place, delivered at the wrong time, and/or in unacceptable condition. Costs can increase significantly as well. In other words, to avoid these issues and successfully set up and maintain a storeroom, all team members must fulfill their roles and execute their responsibilities consistently and accurately.
Critical Success Factors for a Parts Management Strategy in Your Storeroom
- Physical planning
- Infrastructure – The condition of the maintenance storeroom facility itself is a fundamental challenge — a storeroom in poor condition risks exposure to the elements, which can degrade the quality of the materials.
- Location – Too much distance between the storeroom and end-users can cause delays, damaging or losing items in transit.
- Accessibility – Based on assessments, as many as half of all maintenance departments have an “open” storeroom plan, where the “honor system” is in effect. Educate your employees on adequate controls and procedures. Above all, put controls in place to handle, manage, and check-out materials properly.
- Physical layout – Optimal materials flow is crucial to the ideal storeroom. The factors of an ideal setup include the ability to move material quickly between areas and the ability to move material effectively within each area.
Process Planning for the Maintenance Storeroom
Standardization – Every maintenance storeroom needs to be standardized. In other words, you decide how items will be organized. Is it from left to right or right to left? Top to bottom or bottom to top? Do you place labels above or below? Is this set up the same throughout the storeroom? Is it the same between storerooms?
Visual Management – Providing large visible signage to mark different sections will save time and make the process more efficient. Once a worker has looked up which row and aisle a part is located from the VIN system, markers such as signs and arrows will help guide them to it in the actual storeroom. Labeled maps or diagrams of the floorplan can also be useful designating areas, such as:
eMaint Parts Inventory Software Testimonials
Cactus Drilling Company moved from manual parts inventory management to eMaint CMMS because they wanted to gain better inventory control and manage purchasing. Inventory evaluations and reports are shared with leadership, increasing visibility and enabling support for repair, replace, or rebuild decisions. Centralized and streamlined document storage makes it easier to keep an accurate parts inventory, even across multiple departments.
“The commitments from the eMaint team help us reach our goals.”
-Kenny Boyanton, CMMS Coordinator, Cactus Drilling Company, L.L.C.
Crown Holdings, Inc. used eMaint to reduce their parts inventory by $1.02 million through centralized part accessibility. The packaging products supplier uses eMaint in 45 locations around the world.
Crown also reduced their service operations expenses by more than $100,000 per year and improved their repair parts inventory turnover by 34%.
“At the plant level, practitioners use eMaint for spare parts, inventory control, equipment and maintenance management. At a business unit level, eMaint provides senior management with global visibility of plant operations.”
-Tom F., Senior Project Manager, Crown Cork & Seal, Inc.
The Great Lakes Water Authority contracted with the New England Fertilizer Company (NEFCO) to design, build, and operate a Biosolids Dryer Facility (BDF). NEFCO uses eMaint to order supplies, track spare parts, itemize all loose and packaged items, and analyze key business metrics.
“About 100 employees interact with eMaint, and everyone in NEFCO appreciates eMaint’s ease of use and 24/7 access.”
-Bill Hollman, Corporate Operations Manager, NEFCO
eMaint CMMS and Maintenance Storeroom Success
Above all, an effective computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) system facilitates a successful storeroom. eMaint’s parts management software simplifies tracking parts across storerooms worldwide and helps improve inventory accuracy. Organizations using a CMMS set-up reorder points to track parts and auto-generated purchase orders.
Eliminate data entry and duplicate data with barcoding. Use barcodes and QR codes to scan and view part records instantly on a tablet or mobile device, and use Parts kitting to issue or return multiple parts with a single item number.