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How to ensure you have the right spare, at the right time, in the right place

2 July 2018 by Add Energy

Effective spare parts management is the foundation for a reliable operation. However, most companies are reluctant to maintain a comprehensive spare part inventory because they fear stocking resources like spares can be counterintuitive when trying to control operating costs.

 Plant managers, maintenance personnel etc., need to fully understand how to determine which spare parts are needed to prepare a comprehensive and effective inventory management system – ensuring you have what you require, at the time you require it.

Operating strategy, inventory control and measuring and analyzing risk are a few of the factors you should consider when developing or reviewing your spare parts management system. By considering these factors, as well as adopting an effective process, you can help minimize performance disruption, maximize uptime and reduce holding cost. Ultimately, producing successful spare part management.

1. Operating Strategy

 With a spare parts management strategy, you will either approach this from a predictive or reactive position. Many companies tend to fall into the dangerous trap of taking a reactive stance to their spares procurement. To successfully manage stock inventory, we would recommend you adopt a predictive strategy. Predicting potential problems before they arise and being armed with the correct spares to support the solution.

Although reactive actions may be necessary during crisis, the predictive management of spare parts is a result of data collection and analysis that allows for a measured approach to be taken with the application of cost benefit analysis and the setting of a risk-based selection process.

During this process, those accountable for spare part management should be observant of patterns of failure that could indicate a previously unidentified issue with a specific spare or supplier. This could be attributed to application or quality of the spare or it could be down to incorrect operation of the parent equipment. Either way the investigation of these failures is critical to overall equipment and spare part strategy.

2. Inventory Control

Understanding what you’re holding in stock, and what is and isn’t necessary lays a solid foundation for good spares management.

To achieve better control over inventory, you must develop clear criteria that will help define and categorize spares.

Designations such as “critical” spares can help you prioritize your inventory and place further emphasis on what must be kept in stock. Recognize that terms like this are multi-dimensional and can be refined further. For instance, a part can be labelled as critical to the operation  or critical to specific machine function. A higher priority may be given to one designation over another, depending on its risk and impact if a failure should occur.

Keeping a regular and up-to-date record of stock - documenting new stock that is placed on the shelf and similarly taking note when stock is removed – allows for an accurate review and analysis of your storage and check-out. Effective systems such as this can easily reveal reasons for stock inaccuracies and keep you in control of your inventory.

3. New Equipment Still Requires Spares

A dangerous misjudgment is that new equipment won’t require spares. Whilst you might consider brand new equipment as being without its problems, unfortunately, part failure upon start-up, is a common occurrence.

Being prepared with spares for commissioning of new equipment is vital in mitigating downtime during project start-ups that result in not just angry managers but high costs.

When operating new equipment, ensure a full review is completed ahead of commissioning to understand the parts in use, and provide you with the knowledge of any likely problems that may arise.

Failure to prepare is preparation to fail, and this is just as important when dealing with new equipment. 

4. Calculate the Risk

Taking time out to calculate the risk of downtime is a vital step in successfully managing your spare parts.

Using data analysis and well managed stock control is important, but for many teams, the real importance and underlying factor to effective spares control is identifying and understanding the risk involved, in not having the right spare, in the right place, at the right time.  

To calculate risk, you need to know what one-hour of downtime will cost your company. Working from this information and factoring in the impact that this problem can have on you, can then help in determining the cost of an unexpected shutdown. Compare this cost to that of purchasing and storing replacement parts. You can make an informed decision based on this analysis.

To Conclude

By following these four steps, you will be able to gain better control over your spare parts and this will support you in cost optimization across operations. However, before you can implement any of those steps, you first need to make sure your foundation data is available so that critical spares can be identified and maintenance BoMs can be built to ensure you have the right spare at the right time.

To do this, you must know what equipment you have on your asset and what components make up those pieces of equipment. Add Energy can help you identify and verify that equipment and critical data through OptiBoM™.

OptiBoM™ is the industry leading BoMs database developed by Add Energy, containing over 9 million records of spare part data.

For more information on how OptiBoM™ can help you better manage your spares check out our website by clicking here

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