Integrating maintenance and spare parts management
David Berger describes the critical areas of integration that yield maximum benefit.
By David Berger, P.Eng., contributing editor
|David Berger, a Certified Management Consultant (C.M.C.) registered in Ontario, Canada, is a Principal of Western Management Consultants, based in the Toronto office. David has written more than 200 articles on a variety of topics such as maintenance management, operations management, information technology, e-commerce, organizational design, and strategy. In Plant Services magazine, he has written a monthly column on maintenance management in the United States, as well as three very extensive reviews of maintenance management systems available in North America. David has done extensive work in the areas of strategy, information technology and business process re-engineering. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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As described above, the scheduler should be able to view and reserve standard parts from within the work order screen. Ideally, the stock keeper should then kit those parts and deliver them just in time to maintenance personnel at the job site or have the parts available for pickup as per the maintenance schedule. If the schedule is in peril because parts are not yet available for kitting, then either the scheduler needs to adjust the schedule or someone must expedite the parts so that they arrive on time. To accommodate all elements of this process requires a more advanced level of integration between maintenance and inventory control modules.
Issuances and returns
Another point of integration between maintenance and materials management, both organizationally and with respect to software applications, is how to control spare part issuances to maintainers and returns to stores. This is especially problematic with open or unsupervised stores. Accountability must be made clear, and procedures must be established governing who is allowed in stores, who is responsible for information capture, how data is to be captured on which application, and how best to account for various transactions. If the process is onerous or accountability is uncertain, possible consequences are that book inventory rarely matches reality, maintainers hoard parts, work order costs are not accurate, and there is no corporate learning so mistakes are repeated.
When parts are serialized, there is a trade-off between increased workload in entering and tracking serial numbers and better information. Benefits are improved traceability of spare parts especially when they are reused, better expiration management when expiry dates are entered against a serial number, and lot control for stock rotation and better vendor management. Serialized parts can also help in failure analysis, as tombstone data such as vendor name and date of manufacture can be tracked and correlated to a given problem or cause code. Furthermore, work order history can be traced to a given part to see if there are emerging patterns or trends.
Thus, having maintenance and inventory control modules within the same application is ideal if these benefits are important to you. The scheduler is then able to select from a pool of serialized parts presented within the work order screen, stock keepers can pick and issue the appropriate part, and maintainers can reference the serial number on the work order. A complete move history can be tracked, as parts move from stores, to an asset, to an internal cost center such as machining, to an external vendor such as a painter, to stores again at a different value, or to a different asset.
Rotating assets can be handled in a similar fashion. They are serialized and essentially treated as both an asset and a part. As an asset, work orders collect labor, material, and other costs against them. As a serialized part, rotating assets sit in stores with a reorder point, reorder quantity, and lead time. Move history is also tracked for rotating assets.