Pursuing a Leaner Spare Parts Inventory

By Wally Wilson, CMRP, CPIM, Life Cycle Engineering

Most organizations have a significant financial investment in spare parts Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) storeroom inventory. Yet only about 8-10% of this investment is commonly used on an annual basis. The remaining 90 to 92% of the inventory consists of critical spares and slow-moving, excess, or obsolete parts. Let’s first examine what makes up the 90-92% portion of inventory and then consider some strategies that can reduce the overall investment required to keep production operating without unnecessary downtime.

Critical spare parts are items that have an excessively long order lead time; are a one-of-a-kind part; or have an immediate effect on safety, environment or production. In most cases, critical spare parts must be available in the MRO inventory 100% of the time. When a critical spare is put into service and the on-hand inventory level is reduced to zero, the risk factor goes to very high if another equipment failure were to occur that requires this part.

You can reduce this exposure to risk with a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) program to monitor the health of your equipment. An RCM program monitors equipment performance and identifies components that are approaching the end of their service life through vibration analysis, thermography, etc. When these repairs are identified the work can then be planned and scheduled and the critical spares re-ordered to eliminate or reduce the incidence of an inventory stock-out and additional production downtime.

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