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One of the most common complaints we hear in plants using a computerized maintenance management system is that it is hard to use the computer to find parts in the Storeroom. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that data has not been consistently entered. It is essential that the people who name stock parts are fully trained to use a structured naming process and that they understand how the computer system processes searches. This training is seldom well done, and typical data-entry errors are inconsistent naming, information (such as part numbers) entered in the wrong field, and so on. Commercial "data cleansing" may also make it more difficult to find parts because it removes trade names, which are frequently used by tradesmen and supervisors to describe common components. For a copy of a practical naming standard, contact IDCON.

The second reason for searching difficulty is the almost-universal lack of good search functionality in maintenance computer systems. Many are limited to single-field, single-string searches, and to even navigate to the search entry screen and to enter search information correctly is often beyond the ability of mechanics and other infrequent users.

Before you re-name all your stock or replace your maintenance computer, there are tools available that address these search problems. One is FINDIT, a very fast, powerful and inexpensive search tool that complements your maintenance computer and is as easy to use as Google®. Check it out at

And remember, for process equipment, the best way to find parts is through good spare parts lists (sometimes called "Bills of Materials).

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