Manage Spare Parts More Effectively With These 7 Tips

Manage Spare Parts More Effectively With These 7 Tips

An estimated 50% of all maintenance and repair operations (MRO) budgets is allocated to spare parts. With that much of a financial commitment, it would seem obvious that ensuring those items are on hand and easy to find is crucial to preserving continuous uptime and minimizing disruptions from equipment failures. That said, many operations could brush up on their spare parts tracking, storage and handling processes.

In a recent webinar, Seven Best Practices to Effective Spare Parts Management, we discussed several tips that can help to keep these critical items available and easily located — for routine maintenance, as well as for troubleshooting and emergency repairs.

7 Best Practices for Managing Spare Parts

Implementing each of these tips will improve an operation’s spare parts practices. They include:

1. Utilizing a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS). Utilizing software for tracking and management of parts inventory is one of the most helpful tools for monitoring spare parts. These systems enable managers to identify parts availability, location and quantity, set minimum thresholds that trigger alerts for replenishment, and create maximum thresholds to prevent over-stocking. Additionally, they can help to track spending. If no such system is available, a spreadsheet can be used to document part numbers, descriptions, vendors, lead times, and more. For maintenance personnel without access to computerized systems, provide paper templates to record which parts have been used, where, in what quantity, and how.

2. Following the Original Equipment Manufacturers’ (OEM) Recommended Spare Parts List (RSPL). Not sure what spare parts to keep in your inventory? The OEM provides a list when installing the equipment (and, if that list has gone missing, they can share it again). Each RSPL details which parts are critical to stock on-site. Additionally, it is important to periodically compare the RSPL to actual on-site spares inventory. Performing this analysis will help to identify any gaps, verify that parts in stock are the most current and which are obsolete, and ascertain what items need to be added to the spare parts collection.

3. Budgeting Realistically for Long-Term Expected Expenses. It can be challenging to predict what parts will be needed in the coming year, but it is possible to develop a reasonable budget based on input from the OEM. Their expertise can inform a close estimate for the typical expenditures in similar facilities. They can also assess the equipment annually to observe component wear patterns and make recommendations. Further, review data from the CMMS or EAMS to determine past parts usage. Generally, the budget for spare parts should be increased year-over-year, starting at 2% of the original RSPL package for year 2 of operation, up to nearly 40% of that cost in year 10. It’s also wise to budget for unexpected damage or repairs outside of normal wear, such as that caused by an accident or impact.

4. Organizing the Spare Parts Cage. Having parts in-house is pointless if they can’t be located or identified. That’s why it’s important to have a secure, organized spare parts cage. Some operations utilize multiple spare parts cages located strategically near specific pieces of equipment to save time and travel in retrieving needed items. The cage should be clean, organized and labeled with location identifications and part numbers corresponding to those in the inventory management system. Some operations apply barcodes to parts and their storage spaces; others add a visual cue — such as a red dot — to indicate the most critical components.

5. Implementing Inventory Accuracy Verification Processes. Conducting an annual physical inventory of stocked spare parts is important to verifying that actual counts match those documented in the records. If once a year seems like too large a task to tackle, break it up into cycle counting and only verify one area at a time on a regular, periodic schedule.

6. Leveraging Value-Added Vendors. Some OEMs provide service and support directly to their customers; others outsource to trained, authorized service vendors. Either way, it’s important to partner with a vendor who can supply parts and service — not just the lowest price. The optimal partner is one who offers same-day and expedited shipping, a broad variety of parts, 24x7 phone availability, and assistance with budgeting or planned obsolescence.


7. Training Maintenance Staff on Spare Parts Management. Make sure the maintenance team understands the importance of being able to find the parts they need quickly and efficiently. If they don’t understand why they need to take care to store items properly and document their use, they won’t do it. Document all procedures and standardize all processes for uniform adherence. Also, solicit their input and encourage them to take ownership of spare parts inventory management to ensure that the system works for them.

To learn more about applying Honeywell Intelligrated’s best practices for spare parts management — an aspect of our Lifecycle Support Services (LSS) offerings — to ensure maximum uptime in your operation, please view this webinar.

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