6 Tips for Better Managing Your Maintenance Parts Inventory in 2019

The focus on factory maintenance usually comes from a service standpoint. In the modern factory, it’s all about creating preventive and proactive maintenance programs, using robust data and relying on modern skills. It’s easy to forget there’s heavy product involvement — from a spare parts inventory, specifically. While it’s critical to focus on better maintenance service, it’s equally as important to optimize the way you’re handling maintenance parts inventory management.

The cost of inventorying spare parts can be astronomical. The cost of the parts themselves, the money tied up in inventory, the costs of overseeing and managing inventory — they all add up. But you can mitigate these costs through better inventorying practices. Here are six steps that any factory can and should take to streamline its inventory management costs:

1. Use an inventory management software — Digitally managing your parts inventory gives you a bird’s-eye view of all parts on hand and automates much of the management aspects of overseeing these parts. Set up trigger alerts to warn of low stock, automatic reorders for low stock limits, or preprogrammed inventory adjustments after maintenance. Inventory management software takes human error and time largely out of the equation, thereby reducing costs and avoiding stockouts.

 2. Serialize parts — Confusion happens when there are no unique identifying markers for parts. Accidentally ordering 1/2″ carburized steel washers instead of 1/2″ annealed steel washers is an honest mistake that’s avoidable if the serial number for one is CSW_12993 vs. ASW_12842 for the other. Create or adapt a naming convention and serialize parts for better organization and inventory management.

3. Pay attention to maintenance events — As you glean information about proactive maintenance for your equipment, put that data to work in your spare parts inventory. For example, if you know you need a specific type of maintenance every three months, you can plan to have X amount of inventory on hand for that specific repair in the future. This allows for better inventory planning and better cost planning, with fewer unnecessary costs tied up in inventory.

4. Consolidate total inventory — Put your spare parts inventory under the microscope. Are you stocking parts for machinery you no longer have? Do you have antiquated parts still on hand? Are you carrying multiple versions of a specific part from multiple vendors? Where possible, consolidate your inventory and cut unnecessary costs. Then, continue to control your inventory through good ordering practices reinforced by other tips on this list.

5. Evaluate suppliers — Transitioning all or some of your inventory to a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) is a great way to reduce inventory costs to near-zero levels. Your parts won’t be on hand, but a good vendor can get them to you in a day or two — well ahead of planned maintenance. The right parts supplier could reduce your inventory responsibilities with little or no disruption to your maintenance approach.

6. Outsource inventory or service — Outsourcing some of your maintenance is an indirect way to reduce inventory demands. If you no longer perform X maintenance in-house, you no longer need to stock A, B, and C parts. In some cases, the cost of outsourcing maintenance (and parts) can offset the holding cost of inventorying those parts and training maintenance techs.

Optimizing your spare parts industry creates measurable return on investment. Reducing inventorying mistakes, avoiding stockouts, lowering holding costs, and even eliminating segments of your inventory all give back to the bottom line. The result is a leaner, more cost-efficient factory.

Thinking about outsourcing maintenance or consolidating your inventory? You can always count on the professionals at Global Electronic Services. Contact us for all your industrial electronic, servo motor, AC and DC motor, hydraulic, and pneumatic needs — and don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook!

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