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To stock or not to stock, that is the question. One of the major flaws in most spare parts management systems is the absence of clear criteria on when to stock an item and when not to stock an item. The absence of any guidelines forces your team into a process of ad hoc and inconsistent decision making. The result of this is that you stock items that don't require stocking and don't stock items (sometimes critical items) that should be stocked.

The effect of this is two-fold. First stock outs occur. The plant stays down, production is lost, blame apportioned, and the ability of maintenance to maintain the plant becomes a focus of management attention - again! Second, stocking items that don't need to be stocked provides easy fodder for accountants and consultants who then focus on the symptom, not the cause. To avoid all this you simply need to develop and implement specific guidelines to aid decision making on when to stock an item and when not to stock an item. This will help prevent ad hoc decision making and the consequential flow-on effects.

Tip provided by Philip Slater, Initiate Action

Phillip Slater is a leading authority on materials and spare parts management. He is a qualified engineer, an experienced operations and maintenance manager, a seasoned management consultant, and the author of four operations management books, including Smart Inventory Solutions, now in its second edition.

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