Practice PFEP in the New Year
Take a look at your inventory right now. How many parts does it include? For many manufacturers, their parts inventory includes hundreds or even thousands of parts. Now, ask yourself if there’s a plan for every part in that inventory. Do you know where it came from? When it was ordered? What it was for? When you’ll use it? Chances are, you have some data … but nothing this robust. That’s the power of PFEP or, “plan for every part,” a Lean practice designed to help manufacturers avoid some of the most common pitfalls associated with inventory maintenance.
Problems with inventory maintenance
There are a few common inventory problems no manufacturer wants to run into. Running out of vital parts without realizing it can stop a value stream dead in its tracks. Having too much capital tied up in unnecessary inventory can hamper the balance sheet. Worst of all, a disorganized inventory can leave you with question marks when it comes to finding parts.
PFEP solves all these problems and more by bringing order, control, and organization to inventories of all sizes. Because there’s a “plan for every part,” there’s a natural homeostasis for inventories that make it simple for producers to avoid pitfalls.
How to plan for every part
The first step in a PFEP strategy is to establish a baseline. Unfortunately, this is often the biggest barrier to getting organized. You’ll need to go through your inventory to discern what’s there, while also setting benchmarks for proper inventory. How many Widgets do you use in a month? How many do you have in stock? What’s the cost per unit? Figuring out these basics is the first step in planning for every part.
Next, comes order and documentation. Do your parts have SKUs? Are they organized? Is there a first-in, last-out system or similar? Create a paper trail for your inventory that includes any pertinent information needed to monitor and manage those assets. As you create these things, make sure they’re tested — a system that no one follows is hardly a system. Develop inventory management processes that are simple and easily engrained.
Finally, coalesce your PFEP process. The next time you order a part, track it through the entire process, from procurement to utilization. Identify the checks and balances along the way and ensure a system of governance that’s comprehensive.
Look at inventory granularly
The purpose of a PFEP process is to show purpose for your inventory at a granular level. It creates a continuum for waste mitigation. When you order a Widget, you should feel confident that it’s the proper time to do so, and you should know the life cycle of that part before it’s entered into your inventory. In short, you need to come away with a plan for every part.
PFEP may be another Lean manufacturing abbreviation, but it’s a powerful concept that can radically transform your inventory —from procurement, to administration, to fiscal management. The best part? It’s scalable. Whether your inventory includes 10 unique items or 10,000, PFEP gives you confidence that every piece is managed appropriately.