Any company’s manufacturing mission is dependent upon its ability to deliver reliable plant operations. A reliable plant produces planned production plus quality at optimum cost while preserving the integrity of the plant’s assets.

A properly planned and executed PM program will, in fact, protect and extend the life of plant equipment assets while reducing overall maintenance costs. The values affected justify the company’s investment in the cost of implementing and sustaining these cost-cutting activities.
This investment is mitigated when unreliable MRO storeroom operations exist.

In a recent uptime article, “A Day in the Life of a Pro-active Maintenance Planner”, by Ricky Smith and Jerry Wilson, the authors outlined activities prior to the maintenance day shift, then early morning, late morning, early afternoon and end of day. In the early morning activity, a required function is to order parts or to “at least create a list of parts to order”. The article goes on to point out “at this point, it is not known when a job will be scheduled so any parts not on site should be ordered on the same day they are identified as a need …” “Parts that are available from the storeroom should be put on reserve so they will be available on the day before the job is scheduled for execution”… Herein lies the real world problem.

The Planner has a long list of specific criteria essential for reliable maintenance. Chasing parts that are identified as “in stock” when they are not (out of stock, wrong location, incorrect SKU#) detracts from this essential function.

Time spent on refining and documenting job plans is lost when all parts are not available via stores. The article states that less handling and better inventory accuracy will reduce costs. Therefore, inventory inaccuracy will increase costs and defeat reliability. Well, yes. However, in the typical MRO storeroom, these attributes do not exist at an acceptable level.

Herein lies the rub. As stated, planned maintenance relies on storeroom efficiency and inventory accuracy. In the real world of a typical MRO storeroom these conditions exist:

  • Of the SKUs authorized for stock in MRO stores, fill rates of these SKUs are less than 80%; out of stock 20% of the time.
  • Only 50-70% of planned work orders are filled from SKUs in stores.
  • 30-50% cause uncontrolled, reactive, emergency purchases.
  • Reserving parts activities are negatively affected by inaccurate inventory quantities.
  • Lack of proper descriptions, duplications and locations of storeroom parts decrease service requests causing unreliable reservation of parts and costly emergency delivery requests.
  • Inventory designated for reserve can and is taken to fill other requests.
  • Inventory (reserved or not) can be different than the actual parts description listed.
  • When a kit is assembled, issued and then returned, inventory inaccuracy and chargeback errors occur.

When all parts are not available and/or when parts thought to be on reserve are not, the Planner, Purchasing, Maintenance engineers, et al, must stop their assigned (and essential) duties to chase parts in order to complete their jobs and to be reliable.

Storeroom operations continue to be inadequate and a profit drain for companies because stores management is not their core competency … it is not what they are trained to do. You would not ask a professionally trained mechanical engineer to function as a company auditor; why would you expect Facility Management professionals to manage a stores operation efficiently.

The condition continues to exist because the consensus seems to be that “It is what it is and we can’t improve it”. In other words, “get your job done with what you have.” The answer lies within the expertise of a 3PMRO expert who has focus on on-site MRO stores management. In addition to discernible financial benefits, the contribution to reliability goals for which Maintenance Departments strive is greatly enhanced.

As Messrs. Smith and Wilson state, the planner’s job requires discipline, patience and ability to transition effectively from reactive maintenance to pro-active maintenance. Inadequate and false reliability on the capriciousness of MRO stores significantly detracts from reliable values and can be corrected. It is essential to recognize the need to change and agree that the solution lies with the 3PMRO expert in order to achieve world-class MRO stores operations and attain optimum total cost of ownership (TCO) return on your investment.

In summary, communication with the Maintenance Department and participation in maintenance planning are keys to creating a tight integration with storeroom operations. Establishing the proper KPIs with your selected 3PMRO provider will ensure your PM program demand is fulfilled and reliably sustained.

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