Don’t let the aisle of misfit inventory get a toehold in your storeroom

Dec. 21, 2020
When you decide to tackle this project, remember it is an ongoing process and must be reviewed as new equipment is added, and other older equipment removed.

By Brandon Brownlee, Motion Industries

"Waste not, want not.” The less we waste, the less we lack in the future. The proverb has been traced back to 1772, and still has meaning today. For my purpose, it regards MRO inventory.

In many cases, storerooms or part rooms – despite your best efforts – have products that I refer to as the “aisle of misfit inventory,” just like in the Christmas Classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I mean no disrespect to Rudolph and the isle of misfit toys. I hope to create a doubt that makes you question if your inventory is still current. Is it the right inventory? Has it been stored properly – so when it is installed properly – you get the full useful life of your investment in your fixed assets?

I have had the opportunity to visit plants across the USA and Canada over the last 37 years. The plants have been from the stone-age Flintstones to the space-age Jetsons and their modern world. There are plants all along the spectrum, and they all have one thing in common: They have a fixed base of equipment that must run at full output with little or no downtime.

The practices of reliability-centered maintenance depend on when maintenance is performed on the fixed asset base, if it is correct for the application, and if it was installed properly. It is equally important that they have been stored properly. If not, you are certain to risk premature failure and downtime.

I like to engage my customers in what I refer to as an “exercise of awareness,” where we challenge the status of items in stock to see if they are still being used and are still usable condition. I let the customer pick a section or an entire aisle. In all cases, we find items that do not need to be in their inventory. This really is an important consideration; the Investment Recovery Association estimates that 20 percent of a business’s assets are surplus to their operating needs. This inventory not only ties up your assets, it depreciates and takes up valuable shelf space.

I am personally witnessing many customers have started to rationalize their needs and make sure they have what they need to keep the plant running in their stock. Remember, if it not usable inventory, it’s a brown banana and no one really likes a brown banana. In many cases, the inventory may not be of value to you, but the chances are that if it’s in salable condition, there is another plant that may need your inventory. Should you choose to save some money and shelf space, there are avenues to dispose of surplus inventory. If an item is used and has no more use or product life, do not be afraid to send an item to the scrap recycler, or otherwise properly dispose of the item.

When you decide to tackle this project, remember it is an ongoing process and must be reviewed as new equipment is added, and other older equipment removed. You need to involve your purchasing group, maintenance leads, scheduler/planners and the department leads where the asset is based. This meeting would be highly productive, in that if the process done properly you should: 1) know what your critical asset needs are, 2) reduce your inventory, 3) have the correct inventory on the shelf, and 4) streamline maintenance and reduce downtime.

An “aisle of fit inventory” makes all the difference – do not wait to take the first steps.

About the Author: Brandon Brownlee

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