Spare parts lurking in corners? Let CMMS track them down

Companies spend a bundle on inventory management software to avoid overstocks and outages. But maintenance teams have a friend in CMMS.


Your spare parts inventory is out of whack. Anytime a machine goes down and you go to grab a replacement part it’s either out of stock or on a shelf in Des Moines plant; your plant is in Pittsburgh. What’s more it always seems to happen on a Friday and the part won’t ship ‘til Monday!

Companies spend a bundle on inventory management software to avoid overstocks and outages. But maintenance teams have a friend in CMMS when it comes to avoiding the same problems with replacement parts inventories. Take your cues from a CMMS user at a Midwest packaging manufacturer, but get organized first.

The company’s spare parts inventory for 900 pieces of equipment was in shambles. Records showed parts were in stock, but the shelves were bare or re-orders went unchecked for parts already stocked in other plants. One time the packaging plant lost hours of production time looking for parts the maintenance tech thought were in stock but weren’t, which cost several thousand dollars in labor and lost revenue.

In fact, 2,500 SKUs in replacement parts were scattered throughout 15 to 20 “satellite” stock rooms and hidden in cabinets that were essentially “off the grid.” A machine would break down and the part was nowhere to be found. Reports calculated spare parts at $150,000 but with duplicates uncovered in all plant locations, inventory added up to $900,000! So not only were parts hard to find, overstocking was out of control.

Eventually the company purchased a CMMS package. After entering all equipment and component data into the CMMS, the company turned next to inventory control. They hunted down every spare part in every location and got a clear picture of overages and outages.

Next, using CMMS, the company consolidated parts down to two locations and the maintenance team was able to monitor usage, ensure proper stocking levels, and even prevent theft. CMMS helped the staffers set up safe levels and trigger automatic e-mail notifications when parts fell below reorder points. Then they ordered just enough parts to restore safe levels. Also work orders listed requisite parts on repaired machines.

With good detective work you may uncover parts lurking in corners. Next step is to evaluate your CMMS to ensure your spare parts inventory is properly organized. You never know, you could eliminate thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs.

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