3 Tips for better spare part management

Stocking assets like spare parts may seem counterintuitive to many companies, especially when trying to effectively control operating costs. This is one of the reasons why most companies are reluctant to maintain a comprehensive spare part inventory. The burden of identifying ways to reduce cost while maintaining the performance and efficiency of plant operations and packaging equipment usually falls on plant managers.

However, the foundation for a reliable packaging operation is practical spare part management. It is crucial to a plant manager’s success.  A good plant manager has to determine which spare parts are needed in order to create an effective and comprehensive inventory system. Don’t rely on perception to determine what’s needed. Establish a strategic method that will adequately manage the movement and storage of your inventory instead.

There are several factors you should consider when developing or reviewing your parts management system. Operating strategy, inventory control and lead times are a just some of them. So, minimize performance disruption, promote efficiency, and reduce carrying cost by taking these factors into account. If you follow these guidelines, you can minimize downtime and rest assured that your cartoners, case packers, and other equipment is working properly.

Operating Strategy

Do you operate from a predictive or reactive position? Unfortunately, building a management strategy around reactive events is the trap most companies fall into. If a manager wants to successfully manage parts inventory, he should adopt a predictive strategy. Reactive management can be beneficial during a crisis, but the essence of successful management is the ability to prevent problems before they arise.

Predictive management of spare parts doesn’t include only the collection and analysis of data. Predictive management is all about the ability to look at the entire scope of the operation in order to locate and solve important underlying problems that may surface in the long run. So, make sure to look out for patterns of failure that can reveal problems that are not clearly visible. Predictive management should help you to cut the time and cost associated with fixing issues and make better use of resources.

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Inventory Control

Your spare parts inventory does not have to be extensive to be effective. After all, it is unrealistic to stock large quantities of various parts. The answer lies in developing clear criteria that will help define and categorize spares in order to achieve better control over inventory. Prioritize your inventory by using categories such as “critical” spares. You can take it even further. A part can be labeled as critical to the operation or critical to specific machine function. Depending on its risk and impact if a failure should occur a higher priority may be given to one designation over another.

Classification of a part could change over time, based on replacements/substitutes that may become available, so make sure to periodically review all spare parts classifications (i.e. critical and non-critical). A regular review of spares for excess stock can help to reduce cost too.

Also make sure to properly store and organize spares in a designated, secure space. Remember, if a part is taken without a record, prompting for reordering will not take place. Likewise, if new stock is placed on the shelf without a record, you cannot count on it. Analyze your storage and check-out system in order to reveal reasons for stock inaccuracies.

Lead Times

If you want to build a successful stock program, you must gain a thorough understanding of spare part lead times. Part lead time is really important when deciding which parts to stock. If downtime doesn’t concern you too much, parts that can be acquired quickly and easily can be left out of a stocking plan. However, usually, the loss of production time means a significant financial loss for your operation and even a day or two without a part can be too long. Parts with long lead times are being custom made after the order and do not carry expediting options.  That is why you should keep parts with long lead times on hand.

Off-brand components that can be acquired more quickly may seem like a viable alternative during a crisis. Don’t forget that for certain equipment, these substitute/alternative parts could cause further damage to your equipment or system.

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We hope that these tips will help you to increase your efficiencies and improve your spare parts management. Start making better use of your resources and cutting the time and cost associated with fixing issues. Get your spare parts on time. We are here for you.

 

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