MRO purchasing is often overlooked by procurement professionals, and opportunities are masked by the transactions themselves which are high-volume but low-dollar. Resources are often allocated to other areas, and responsibilities for the purchasing function are transferred to maintenance or the storeroom where procurement capabilities are limited. In addition, the imperative for rapid repairs drives immediate, reflexive action and prevents the development of long-term strategic initiatives.
The Maintenance, Reliability and Operations (MRO) spare parts storeroom is an indispensable appendage of the Maintenance and Facilities departments. Yet, despite the clear value of a well-run MRO spare parts storeroom to ensure operating efficiency, it is rarely managed to function at optimal levels. The result is reduced productivity, excessive MRO spare parts expenses and unnecessary waste and downtime.
PCA hosted a booth at MARCON 2019, staffed by our MRO experts. They had discussions with a continual stream of attendees, all of whom were eager to hear our advice on topics ranging from ensuring availability of critical spare parts to controlling inventory spend. The hottest topic, by far, was the importance of having a robust set of work management processes in place — and the challenge of achieving that goal.
In our last blog, we talked about MRO inventory management—ensuring that the right parts are available at the right time and in the right place. This effort is one pillar of a best-practices MRO program, but it is not the only one. In conjunction with optimizing storeroom inventory and the storeroom itself, organizations must develop an ecosystem of best practices that support handling and usage of MRO parts and tools.
For many, the term “inventory management” conjures images of neat, orderly warehouses and storerooms. While well-organized storage is an important component of inventory management, it’s just one link in the chain. Properly structured, inventory management ensures that the right parts and/or materials are in the right place and always available at the precise time they are needed. Furthermore, inventory levels are kept at an optimal level to meet demand. Anything more wastes both space and money. This may sound simple in concept, but it’s complex in practice. Inventory management can be applied in two ways—materials for production and/or parts and materials for equipment maintenance.
Equipment operation is, at its core, a business activity, and proactive maintenance is an investment in that activity. Unlike reactive, or break-fix maintenance, proactive maintenance involves vigilant asset management and a dedicated strategy that plans not only for component replacement on a recommended schedule (e.g. preventive maintenance) but also equipment analysis to identify root failure origins—excessive vibrations, part contamination, and other issues—and take action to avoid impending part and machinery failures (predictive maintenance).
Computerized Maintenance Management Systems, or CMMS, are designed to streamline maintenance and extend the life of equipment. For many facilities, however CMMS never achieve management’s stated goals. Vast sums of money is spent on these advanced information processing and analytics platforms (also known as Preventive Maintenance Systems or Preventive Maintenance Software), only to have them be underutilized and even ignored or abandoned.
For companies in highly regulated industries (HRI), acquiring the research firms that develop technologies, solutions or products that they use or sell can be complicated. The process ties up lawyers, accountants and human resource personnel for months, if not years. In our experience, one area that is often not given sufficient attention is the merger of physical elements, such as parts and finished inventory. Unless the research is intellectual property alone, there will likely be raw materials, components, prototypes and products over which the parent company is taking control.