Manage your spare parts better

October 14, 2009
Plant Magazine

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) will improve stores and parts efficiency.

Ben Stevens, president of Optimized Maintenance Decisions (OMDEC), a Grodfrey Ont.-based maintenance software development company that specializes in optimizing maintenance decision-making, offers the following list of spare parts and stores management ideas to make it happen.

• Start with some research into your current stores management and performance measurement. If you do not have stores key performance indicators (KPIs) then look specifically at two critical ones that many successful companies use: service levels and stores turnover.

• Set clear and realistic objectives for improvement based on the needs and priorities of your company. Don’t look for too big an improvement initially. After meeting a reasonable target set a higher goal.

• Set up a process for measuring and reporting improvements; they need to be easy to measure, simple to calculate and well understood in terms of impact on the business. Show potential and actual payback to the business in dollars.

• Write up the measurement, analysis and reporting process, then turn it into a repeat work order. This means it will have a priority, a resource applied and it will appear on the backlog list if it’s not done.

• Appoint one person to manage stores plant-wide. Make sure there’s an accurate listing of all stores in the CMMS, each with a standardized parts description. Include a “where used” list and a bill of materials cross reference, especially for spare parts needed for critical equipment.

• Install a receiving and issuing data collection process to automatically record movements in the CMMS.

• Make sure all material requirements are on each and every work order. 

• Prepare pick lists from the work orders and issue them to stores ahead of the job date. Implement job-site delivery and staging by the storekeepers. Set up delivery routes and schedules.

• Review the warehouse layout to make sure it is clearly marked and works well. Busy items, should be close to the issuing station.

• As part of the layout evaluation, do a store clean up and get rid of the obsoletes. Then rationalize and optimize: make sure that store records are visible company-wide.

• Look at the costs and benefits of a single store location and a just-in-time delivery system versus multiple locations.

• Inventory optimization requires establishing inventory levels, min-max, EOQ and lead times. Most CMMSs have an internal process that makes this step easier.