December 20, 2022


Parts Inventory Management Best Practices

Parts Inventory Management Best Practices

Inventory management is essential to a successful proactive maintenance program. Maintenance managers can face pressure to keep spare part inventory levels low to decrease inventory costs.

However, this is a bad move for several reasons: the non-availability of spare parts can cause significant financial losses in equipment downtime, unmet production targets, and expedited shipment costs.

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Best Practices for Inventory Management

Spare part inventory refers to a list of stock items maintenance technicians use to replace failed equipment parts. Manufacturing facilities keep spare part supplies—like belts, motors, gears, and grease—on hand so they can fix equipment failures without needing to order and then wait for a part to be delivered.

Inventory software

However, spare part inventory also can include small items like printer cartridges, batteries, and light bulbs. Maintenance departments or general operational departments typically store spare parts in stockrooms on location.  

Following best practices for inventory management can yield substantial benefits, including: 

  • Quick Responses to Emergency Repairs: Unplanned downtime is inevitable, no matter how intensive a preventive maintenance (PM) program an operations manager runs. For this reason, organizations should prioritize always having on hand the spare parts for critical machinery. Any asset integral to production goals, expensive to repurchase, or essential to safety falls into this “critical equipment” category. The quicker maintenance teams can restore functionality, the fewer downtime losses the business will occur. Computerized Maintenance management systems with parts inventory modules streamline keeping track of part records and avoiding stockouts during emergencies. 
  • Improve Metric Assessments: Spare parts inventory control is vital If you’re looking to improve your wrench time stats and your department’s overall efficiency. Having critical replacement parts on hand reduces employee idle time, which later contributes to inaccuracies, such as wrench time assessments. 
  • Lower Expenses: While it is possible to overstock a storeroom with too many spare parts, effective spare parts management helps minimize specific expenses. Stocking spare parts for your facility’s most essential bill of materials eliminates rushed shipping for specialized parts, stalled production, and worker idle time. 

Additional benefits of spare parts inventory include improved equipment uptime and staying ahead of any supply-chain issues.

parts inventory

Six Best Practices

1. Embrace Proactive Maintenance 

First, if you haven’t already, transition your organization from a reactive maintenance strategy to a proactive preventive maintenance strategy. We know it’s impossible to eliminate reactive maintenance completely, but it shouldn’t be the core aspect of your maintenance tasks if you seek financial optimization. 

2. Develop Standard Operating Procedures

Well-developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) ensure workers know how to repair assets according to company standards. In addition, SOPs outline the most efficient way to fix standard equipment issues and maintain critical machinery. 

Digital SOP checklists (rather than outdated hardcopy spreadsheets) work well with inventory control systems by allowing you to track spare parts as they move from the stockroom to the shop floor. 

Parts Inventory

3. Adopt Proper Inventory Control Measures

A cloud-based inventory management system helps lower the cost of inventory items. Records are updated automatically as technicians check parts off in online work orders. For example, with MaintainX’s minimum parts tracking, new parts can be ordered directly from vendors. Also, the automated features allow you to clearly define, categorize, locate, and scan all parts according to their manufacturers, costs, and purchase dates. 

We recommend:

  • Creating and identifying locations for parts from the lowest detail to the highest,
  • Labeling bins and shelf locations for each type of part needed, and 
  • Attaching QR or barcodes to parts or their locations to be scanned in. 

4. Understand Your Lead Times

Prioritize having spare parts on hand for critical assets instead of for non-critical assets. Even with parts inventory tracking, be sure to set reorder points to order parts with long lead times—those that take longer to ship and may force you to incur extra costs for expedited delivery—first. Think of the parts you always want to have on hand as “stock” parts and those that you don’t need on hand as “non-stock” parts.

5. Calculate Risk

Calculate the risk of downtime for each asset to adequately stock parts for those at high risk of failure. Two key performance indicators that are especially useful here are Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF). Remember this: a preventive maintenance plan on these high-risk assets will help stave off downtime.

6. Enforce Security Measures

This one is always hard but be sure to limit access to your spare parts inventory. Use QR and barcode scanning features to track parts, assets, and locations. Such security measures will enable you to effectively monitor and track the movement of spare parts in and out of your spare parts warehouse. 

parts inventory

The MaintainX Parts Inventory Module

MaintainX’s Parts Inventory module helps organizations efficiently manage, restock, locate, and assign a list of parts to work orders and assets. By effectively managing inventory, organizations can:

  • increase productivity,
  • decrease downtime and waiting on necessary parts,
  • reduce spending on parts, and
  • ensure parts availability when needed. 

We have streamlined parts inventory so you can easily connect it to your maintenance management program and work order processes. MaintainX’s full array of integrated features includes: 

  • Automated low-quantity alerts save time, energy, and resources. 
  • Digital reporting allows for analyzing asset breakdown patterns. 
  • Connected-workforce capabilities help manage multiple remote locations. 
  • Vendor data management keeps contact information at your fingertips. 
  • Asset data management allows for cataloging barcodes, serial numbers, and more. 
  • Digital checklists support standardization and reduce worker errors. 
  • Timestamps provide digital audit trails and proof of compliance. 
parts inventory

The success of your spare part inventory management program depends on your ability to prevent problems before they happen. We know that using our mobile-first CMMS dramatically changes how workers do their work. From completing preventive work orders to recording real-time data to ordering spare parts directly from the work site, MaintainX helps you get work done by seamlessly integrating your parts inventory with vendors and purchase orders.

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Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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