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The Maintenance Management Blog

June 05, 2023

Inside Your CMMS - Inventory

Image: shelves of inventory

One of the character traits of a worthwhile computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is the logic of navigating the modules, menus, and tabs. They should be in a relative order of importance. Whereas Assets would be expected near the top, the next module probably would be Inventory. You have equipment, grounds, buildings, and vehicles on which you conduct preventive maintenance. What are you using? Part, tools, supplies. This week I'll look inside your CMMS to discuss aspects of inventory.

Inventory can have different meanings in different industries. Large hospitals might consider the medical supplies as inventory whereas a utility company depends on tools and parts to keep the lights on and the water flowing.

Liabilities of using a spreadsheet for inventory control include proper search parameters, a cluttered look for descriptions, and human error when editing areas such as quantities. Plus, it's a bit difficult to view inventory from a mobile device.

When considering a CMMS to get a better handle on your inventory, explore some information that you might want to include. As with Assets, many of these won't be necessary for certain companies, but some will be common throughout many businesses.

Keyword. This is the best way to categorize parts/tools/supplies. It makes searching for specific items easier.

Belt. Filter. Bearing. Switch. Screwdriver. Saw.

If you don't have a wide variety of tools Tool could be a keyword to encompass all of them.

Description. A suggestion would be to repeat the keyword as the first part of your description, then have more detail. This gives you another way to search.

Keyword=Relay. Desc.=Relay, Dayton 120VAC coil volts, general-purpose.

Note the progression. What it is, brand or type, then specs.

This even works when using Tool as a keyword.

Keyword= Tool. Desc.=Tool, screwdriver, Phillips, 2x4 inch.

If your inventory is limited, you could use screwdriver as your first descriptor.

Locations. One of the biggest issues of the maintenance department is that search time takes away from wrench time. Make it easy for workers to find items. You'll layout the stockroom in the admin section, then assign specific locations to each piece of inventory. You should be able to be as detailed as necessary. Common breakdowns are aisle, shelf, and bin. Maybe there are multiple stockrooms or storage rooms. Input corner of room, closet, drawer, wall, etc.

Minimum/maximum. Spreadsheets can't warn you when you've reached your minimum requirement limit, nor will they cap how many you should have. They also can't be told to generate a purchase order when you are getting low. A CMMS can do all three. You'll always know the quantity on hand.

Vendors. Similar to this area in Assets, know where you purchased your inventory. While you probably will input a lot of this info into your vendor listing, have a little extra on hand with each part.

Specs. Pretty self-explanatory. Again, be as detailed as needed.

Associated assets. I mentioned at the beginning that you'll be using inventory for PMs. Within assets, you assigned specific pieces of inventory to the equipment. Here is the reverse of this. Assign pieces of equipment on which these parts will be used. If your system is really cool, if you assign it in one place, it'll show up in the other.

Alternate parts. Oops, you are out of a particular item. And a repair is needed. Will something else work in its stead?

Reserved items. Maybe to help avoid the above, you reserve an item so it can't be used elsewhere.

PM. As with listing the procedures on the Asset side, add which use your inventory pieces.

Attachments. Okay, you know what a screwdriver looks like, but add a picture of each inventory…just to be sure.

Sites. Many companies have multiple sites with similar inventory. If you have two or more sites, you'll want to be specific on a particular piece's whereabouts. You don't want a worker in Miami looking in Stockroom 1, aisle 4, shelf 2, bin 10, and not finding the item only to discover that the part is in your Nashville facility.

Issue/Return policy. Tools growing legs and disappearing or missing? One of the best solutions is to institute an issue/return policy. "No work order, no part." That way, you can know who has what and that the worker is authorized to have it. You'll know a particular tool is back in stock and ready for use on the next job.

Physical count cycles. Yep, we're only human and if you input something incorrectly into a CMMS, it won't correct you. It doesn't have any more omniscience than you do. The world is geared toward chaos. (Don't believe me? You just cleaned your garage two months ago. What's it look like today?)

You must schedule a regular physical count. A CMMS is a great tool to help you with this. Stay accurate.

A lot of inventory can be difficult to manage. A CMMS can help organize it for you. Reduce search time, avoid stockouts, and make the repairs and PMs easier to complete.

Check over your inventory and what details you'll like inputted into a CMMS, then call 800-922-4336. Talk to a Mapcon rep and get your stockroom looking good!


Stephen Brayton

About the Author – Stephen Brayton


Stephen L. Brayton is a Marketing Associate at Mapcon Technologies, Inc. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a degree in Communications. His background includes radio, hospitality, martial arts, and print media. He has authored several published books (fiction), and his short stories have been included in numerous anthologies. With his joining the Mapcon team, he ventures in a new and exciting direction with his writing and marketing. He’ll bring a unique perspective in presenting the Mapcon system to prospective companies, as well as our current valued clients.


Filed under: inventory management, maintenance, CMMS — Stephen Brayton on June 05, 2023