We’ve identified five key steps for successful parts inventory management. Each one is outlined below in more detail.
1. Assess the present state and set objectives
It’s highly recommended that you have broad network visibility to build organisational resilience before you get started. This is why you need to carefully assess the current state of your parts situation. If you are noticing major inefficiencies, significant downtime and time lags from orders to delivery, you need to change the status quo.
These and other factors are hindering your maintenance operations from being as effective as possible. You also need to check quantities of stock and determine where you are lacking and where improvements can be made.
Once you have assessed your current state and determined that it needs improvement, you need to set clear objectives. These objectives should include aspects such as:
- Reducing the time it takes from order to delivery
- Reducing how long it takes for a part to be located
- Determining what the replenishment ratio is
- Evaluating what the minimum, maximum and economic order quantities are for each spare part
- Assessing the amount of downtime you are dealing with and by how much you’d like to improve it
- Determining which spare parts are considered critical and in what quantities
- Calculating what “safety stock” you need regularly
- Establishing how many spare parts are defective and considered obsolete
- Determining if spare parts are cross-referenced with equipment manuals
- Observing if spare parts are stored in a clean and orderly manner
- Deciding on whether you need a CMMS (computerised maintenance management system) to help your technicians stay organised and more productive
- Calculating how much it’s costing you to order spare parts and what kind of reductions you’d like to make
2. Remove obsolete components from the inventory
When you have identified your goals, you need to take stock of your spare parts inventory. This means entering each one in a CMMS system or importing your list of inventory into the software. It is highly recommended that you do not use manual, paper-based systems or even spreadsheets as these can lead to confusion and disorganisation.
This step involves taking stock of everything that you already have in your spare parts repository, warehouse or storeroom. It also includes spare parts that have been ordered but have not been delivered yet.
Once you have created a list, it’s important to compare each spare part against the manufacturer’s warranty. This process will help you determine which parts are obsolete. When you have this information at your fingertips, you will be better equipped to quarantine them and separate them from those parts that still have the manufacturer’s warranty and are still usable.
3. Sort out and rearrange the remaining parts
The third step after you have quarantined obsolete parts from your inventory is to sort out and rearrange the remaining parts. It’s important to remember that some spare parts might look the same but have a different OEM number. This is why it is essential for people with strong spare parts knowledge to be involved in the process.
This individual will need to input the data for every spare part into a computerised list. However, to make tracking them easier, it’s advisable to use QR or barcode scanners for each spare part. This way, the system will be immediately updated when it is taken out of storage or when it needs to be looked up and accessed quickly.
When inputting the data of types and quantities into your inventory management software as well as assigning quick-reference codes to them, it’s also important to remember that spare parts have hierarchies. Some are used on a frequent basis while others are used less often and don’t need to be accessed as quickly. Meanwhile, other parts may be expensive and need to be stored more carefully and with controlled access.
In addition, some parts may need to be organised by type or class for better inventory control. Furthermore, there are parts that remain unused for longer periods of time and should be inventoried for future use. Each of these cases necessitates the need for a well-organised storage system and space, making the right spare parts easy to locate when needed.
4. Establish storeroom guidelines
Your inventory is now organised and you have filtered through all the relevant parts while separating those that do not add value to your operations. You’ve categorised the spare parts and have meticulously placed them in the right bin, on the right shelf and in the right aisle in your warehouse or storeroom. However, this storeroom needs to be well-managed to ensure that spare parts don’t go missing when you need them most.
One way to address this challenge is for your team to use inventory management software for spare parts ordering. This will immediately take the relevant spare part out of circulation and the software will be updated accordingly. When the minimum levels are reached, the CMMS will send a notification so that the assigned team member can place a new order.
It is also advisable to assign a member of your team to locate and source the spare parts from the warehouse. Make sure that the spare part is scanned with a barcode or QR code scanner so you’ll know whether this part was brought into the parts warehouse or taken out of it. Ensure that your CMMS system updates the spare parts inventory in real time. This will make the ordering of parts a coordinated process.
5. Oversee spare part stocks
The final step is to use a spare parts management process to oversee your spare parts stock. This is essential because you want to ensure you never run out of spare parts. The opposite can have a detrimental effect on your operations when maintenance needs to be performed.
To oversee spare parts stock levels, you should use a CMMS or inventory control system. It will help you get an immediate, accurate and real-time view of what stock you have available or not. You can also more quickly calculate how much new spare parts will cost as well as how long it will take for them to arrive once ordered.
Having all this information at hand helps you prevent breaks in your manufacturing processes or your work orders.