Service Parts Planning for Maintenance Management

Whether you have a small network with a couple of printers and a fax machine, or a sophisticated shop floor using robots, cranes, etc., you have to make sure your assets are functioning properly. One of the main challenges is finding the right spare part to repair your equipment.

There are two facts that are certain in the enterprise asset management (EAM) world: 1. your equipment will break sooner or later; and 2. it will eventually become obsolete. It is common knowledge that when your equipment becomes obsolete, you need to replace it and when they break, they need to be repaired. Furthermore, one would expect companies to always have spare parts available for repairs, but it is not always the case. Let’s take a look at why this may happen.

Why is it so hard to have the right part at the right time?

First of all, it doesn’t make sense to store parts in your inventory mainly because of the investment required. This investment can be used in more important areas of your business. Mind you, this may not be a bad idea for extremely important assets—sometimes it’s better to invest in inventory and parts storage, which will let you repair assets right away, thus reducing disruption to the minimum. As a general rule though, companies will not have spare parts in their inventory for low or medium importance assets.

The second reason could be that your suppliers are not reliable enough to deliver on time. Let’s say that you can afford to stop your production line but only for a few hours. If your spare parts provider can deliver in one hour and it takes you an hour to repair, you’re fine. But if they can’t or they deliver the wrong part, you will surely lose money and some sensitive equipment may even get damaged if its not repaired quickly.

Another important reason would be that you did not plan your repairs well—if the manufacturer of your asset tells you that you have to do an inspection every six months and you do it every eight months, the chances that the tool will break are greater. And if you don’t do your maintenance on time, the manufacturer might not even cover the expenses to repair it.

And the worst case scenario is when you have the part but you cannot find it, either because you have several warehouses or several inventory management systems that do not communicate with each other.

How can you address these challenges?

The magic word is: planning—inventory planning, maintenance planning, demand planning for parts, etc. And as much as you like Excel or your in-house-made application to track inventory, only business software conceived for this need will efficiently help you. Here’s why:

• It brings visibility across multiple locations and warehouses and provides information not only about the spare part’s location, but also estimated time of arrival if the part is not in stock or if the equivalent part can be used to replace the one you need.

• It gives you history and forecasting for inventory. You can define minimum and maximum stock quantities, which makes it easier for you to understand which part you need and when. This will allow you to have the parts without investing too much into dormant inventory

• It makes collaboration with partners and suppliers easier, which will make it easier for you to order, track, and receive parts on time for the repair. If you do not have control over what you ordered, where and when it will be delivered, it will be impossible for you to plan and execute repairs.

• It offers integration with other solutions like enterprise resource planning (ERP) or EAM, which will give you a full picture of your inventory but also your asset life cycle and maintenance operations

Who offers service parts planning software?

Some of the main players in this field are Baxter, Clockwork Solutions, Logility, MCA Solutions, Oracle, Syncron, SAP, Servigistics, and Valogix. As it often happens in the business software world, these vendors offer more or less complete solutions for service parts planning and they have different approaches to manage this type of activity.

Follow our blog to learn more on how each one of the above mentioned software providers and their solutions can help you better manage your service parts.
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