August 26, 2014
Banish Downtime with These Inventory Control Tips
Downtime: It is a word every manager in the maintenance and reliability industry dreads. In the best situations, it means a loss of profit. In the worst, it means a loss of your job. While not all issues that cause downtime are completely avoidable, it helps to know the ones that are. In this blog post, we are going to examine some sure-fire ways to banish downtime with a few inventory-control tips.
You may be asking yourself what inventory control has to do with whether or not a shop experiences downtime, to which I would answer, "a lot." Bad inventory control is a symptom of a much deeper issue, namely a bad maintenance and/or facility management plan.
One of the key steps to any maintenance management system is knowing every piece of equipment under your charge. This includes information about the machinery as well, including how old each unit is, who the vendor is, the vendor contact information, life expectancy of the product, suggested maintenance procedures... the list goes on and on.
By knowing this vital information, you can develop a sound maintenance plan to ensure that your equipment continues functioning properly, thus helping to avoid a possible future downtime scenario.
Of course, in the event of downtime, this information is crucial to getting things back up and running again as quickly as possible. For instance, not having to search for a machine"s vendor and warranty information will help get the ball rolling faster: In downtime situations, it is all about momentum. Every minute you spend looking for that warranty is another minute employees are sitting around getting paid to be idle.
Another way to avoid downtime (or to ensure that you minimize the length of such an event) is through asset tracking. Do not forget this one important fact: Replacement parts are also a part of your inventory and are just as important as the main equipment. Therefore, treat your spare parts the same as you would any other machinery.
Tracking spare parts is more than just knowing where they are located (this information is, of course, very important as well). It is also knowing how many parts you have on hand and how often you need them. If you understand your equipment"s maintenance schedule and follow a strict preventative maintenance plan, knowing how many spare parts you need on hand should, for the most part, be fairly predictable.
Some maintenance managers tackle this particular issue by over-ordering parts. This is a big no-no as well. Inventory control is a delicate balancing act. Having too few parts can lead to machine failure and improper maintenance. It can also extend the recovery time to get your shop back up and running (if you are out of the replacement parts, you will have to wait until you can borrow them from another shop or the order arrives).
On the flip side, ordering too many parts leads to disorganization as well as over-spending. At the end of the day, maintenance programs are about keeping companies profitable, so over-ordering is generally frowned upon.
So how does a maintenance manager ensure that they practice good inventory control? A big part of this is having the right tools on hand, and no tool is more important for a reliability manager than a computerized maintenance management system, or CMMS. In addition to its ability to help you track equipment, spare parts, and vendor information, most CMMS systems come with a wide array of reporting, invoicing, accounting, and document storage functions that will make your job a thousand times easier.
So my final advice to you is this: To avoid downtime, get yourself some maintenance management software and incorporate an inventory control and asset management system if you do not have one in place.