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MRO Parts Storerooms: No Longer An Afterthought

May 18, 2011 - Material Handling

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor — Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is strategies for inventory management.

Historically, organizations have allowed maintenance, repair and operations, or MRO, spare-parts storerooms to become an afterthought. Despite the talent, experience, and dedication of personnel in maintenance and engineering departments, storerooms for MRO parts often survive only on the crumbs that fall under the financial table. Managers receive money for the replacement of parts and supplies in storerooms, but they rarely receive funding to clean them up, organize them, improve operational efficiency, and install more functional storage fixtures.

But a number of developments in recent years have begun to change this situation, including more competition and the increased use in facilities of strategies such as Kaizen, six sigma, 5S, and lean operations. More departments now are minimizing unscheduled equipment downtime through the implementation of software-aided maintenance planning, predictive and preventive maintenance scheduling, and operations-friendly maintenance work.

These advances have compelled managers to improve the organization, efficiency and automation of storerooms to keep up with the requirements and demands of a more proactive maintenance department. Simply put, technicians need to have the right parts in the right quantity at the right time for these management strategies to deliver their intended benefits.

Most organizations continue to overlook MRO parts storerooms as sources for overall savings, but time is money, and unscheduled equipment downtime often means big money. Something as simple as a technician who cannot rapidly locate an inexpensive, over-the-counter part can waste time and money.

Disorganization and inefficiency hurt the organization's bottom line. If a technician has to request a part be flown in, especially from overseas, overnight shipping becomes a very expensive option, especially with today's oil prices.


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