The MRO Spare Parts Storeroom:
Make It a Critical Quality System
By: Jim Clifford, Director of MRO Services
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.
To rectify this situation, organizations should design and manage the MRO spare parts storeroom as a critical quality system. In doing so, they can resolve the issues stated above and provide the company with a strategic advantage. Following are some of the core activities that must be managed proactively to ensure quality in an MRO spare parts storeroom:
Spare Parts Acquisition: Only fully vetted, qualified distributors and OEM vendors should be primary spare parts suppliers. The vendor relationship should be one of trust and open communication. With each purchase of new equipment, spare parts list evaluation and identification of local suppliers should be a priority.
Receiving and Inspection: Consistent, standardized receiving and inspection procedures are necessary if parts are to be onboarded accurately. Receiving is the beginning of the journey—the first chance to discover if mistakes have been made. Optimally, the individual handling receiving should also be responsible for managing inventory. When receiving is handled by other team members or departments, errors or omissions are more likely—and less likely to be detected. For this reason, PCA recommends that companies using a CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) take advantage of second-check inspection functions, if available, with-signatures and audit trails formalized in reports.
Spare Parts Inventory Optimization: Knowledgeable individuals such as the Procuring Engineer, Purchasing Manager and Storeroom Manager should collaborate to determine the range and volume of parts required to maintain equipment in its validated state.
The Storeroom Manager should then request or create the appropriate CMMS inventory records. These should include, if specified, unique parts qualities such as whether a part is repairable or not, if inspections are required and at what frequency, and what data is required for compliance or tracking such as lot numbers and expiration dates.
Bill of Materials Logging: The Maintenance team should use the CMMS Bill of Materials (BoM) feature to associate inventory records and related information with the relevant equipment. The BoM becomes the official record of spare parts required for the maintenance of equipment used in production.
Procurement Optimization: To retain optimal inventory levels, MRO teams should develop an efficient, clear process to replenish parts quickly while keeping order points as low as possible. Furthermore, suppliers should be informed that substitutions of any kind, including materials of construction, are unacceptable without appropriate review and approval. Purchase Orders should have clear language stating this requirement, and part manufacturers must be mandated to notify downstream stakeholders of any changes in materials.
Reorder Management: Efficient reordering is a critical element of MRO spare parts storeroom best practices, yet the process can easily break down if not properly managed. One area of concern is inventory accuracy, which is a serious issue in open storerooms where technicians are allowed to retrieve their own parts. Charging parts to the wrong equipment or wrong item number will create an inaccurate snapshot of equipment requirements while also disrupting inventory management. Discrepancies will arise between true and reported inventory levels and items may be reordered when they are not required.
All of these activities should be covered under detailed and comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs). Such instructions form the foundation for operating a spare parts storeroom in a consistent and compliant manner.
Although activity managing and monitoring as described above does not guarantee optimum quality and efficiency in a spare parts storeroom, it is a great place to start. In subsequent articles, we’ll talk about other best practices that lead to MRO excellence.