Reliability & Maintenance Center

Lean Is Key To Storeroom Management

EP Editorial Staff | December 1, 2021

This first step toward establishing a lean storeroom is to identify spare parts that are absolutely critical to plant-system operation.

Going lean with your MRO storeroom inventory is more difficult than it may seem. When done correctly it can lower carrying costs and create more-efficient maintenance operations. The steps your company takes to get there go a long way toward determining how efficient your entire MRO supply chain can become. 

In a typical company-operated MRO storeroom, approximately 90% of all parts account for about 6% of inventory value. Most parts are either obsolete or duplicates for “just-in-case” scenarios that rarely occur. Keeping those parts in your storeroom is inefficient and costly, which is why an effective inventory-management strategy is so important. 

Eliminating excess inventory moves your organization closer to becoming truly lean while freeing up cash and creating storeroom space that improves traffic flow and promotes safety. Once you are free of unnecessary spare parts and your storeroom is streamlined, develop a strategy to keep inventory lean so your costs and time can be more effectively managed. Here are three ways to stay lean.

Identify critical spares 

The first step to keeping your storeroom lean is to identify critical spares, or the parts deemed crucial to avoiding production or plant downtimes. By identifying/prioritizing these parts and keeping them in ready supply, you can ensure you become lean without sacrificing efficiency. Note that marking all spares as critical is not a strategy. That approach leads to even more inventory issues. 

Predictive inventory management 

Examine historical ordering and maintenance data to identify trends and insights that help predict MRO demand. Determine the optimal number of each part to stock. Establishing minimum and maximum numbers of parts ensures you always have what you need, without the costliness of storing what’s not needed.

Condition monitoring 

The next-wave method of predictive inventory management comes from gleaning predictions not just from historical data, but real-time condition monitoring of assets. Monitoring raises an alert when maintenance or a spare part need is imminent and automatically triggers an order so that maintenance becomes proactive instead of reactive, eliminating downtime altogether.

Consider partnering with an MRO expert 

Managing a storeroom is no small task. If the professionals managing your storeroom have other job responsibilities, it may be hard for them to identify key areas that save money and improve processes. That’s not a detriment to them. They simply may not have the experience of running a storeroom 24/7. An MRO supply-chain service provider uses its buying leverage to save on material costs, while applying a high level of expertise to storeroom operations and processes, leading to greater savings and organizational efficiencies across the board. 

Taking these steps increases the likelihood that your storeroom will be lean (but not so mean). After all, lowering costs and increasing efficiencies should make everyone, including plant management, happy. EP

—Diane Caldwell, Senior Director of Project Management, Synovos Inc., dcaldwell@synovos.com. 

For more information about MRO solutions, visit synovos.com. 

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