Warehouse Strategies with an Effective Item Master

When parts are not tracked and properly stocked, stores become a major contributor to downtime of equipment/capacity losses. Also, there is nothing more frustrating when a machine is down and the part you need cannot be found, especially when the part is found right after ordering its replacement. This usually happens when storerooms are merely places where parts are kept, and not a place to maintain efficiency and effectiveness.

Many storerooms are:

  1. Receiving and shipping room extensions without documentation.
  2. Storing incoming parts on shelves with free space for the convenience (or with little or no thought given to organization.)
  3. Treating the control of spare parts as un-essential to prevent machine downtime due to stock outs.

Here are TWO effective ways to maximize the operation of the storeroom.

  1. Implementing an effective warehousing strategy

Organized stockrooms have sections; shelving, drawers, cabinets, and bin locations visually marked or labeled in order that all authorized personnel (after a documentation check) can easily target the area(s) directly to locate the required part(s). Too many parts sitting on the shelf lead to an exponential rise in stockroom costs. It is critical that storerooms be organized.

When maintenance personnel are searching for a part, usually a generic name and descriptive adjective is all that is required e.g. Cylinder –hydraulic. Combining drawers with conventional shelving allows for some hi-density storage and utilizes space more efficiently. Organizing the storeroom also includes deciding where to locate the stores. The location is critical to the productivity of the maintenance personnel.

The closer the storeroom is located either to the maintenance area or to the equipment being maintained, the less travel time in obtaining the parts required is involved. Location of stores could involve many strategic locations or a centralized area. When establishing a centralized area, it should be staffed correctly so as not to create delays for people trying to obtain materials.

  1. Leveraging your CMMS for an effective item master

Having an accurate system to manage the activities that take place including:

  1. Checkouts
  2. Returns
  3. Adjustments
  4. Receiving

With the help of CMMS programs, you can connect purchasing modules, receiving modules, work order modules, etc., to automatically update stock information and set re-ordering schedules. Additionally, it provides a history of part usage, reliability and cost, which is vital data for both maintenance and purchasing.

It is critical to design the configuration of the CMMS to accurately reflect what physically exists. CMMS allows management to access crucial data such as maintenance parts on hand and associated costs, downtime relating to part failure, stock outs, parts where used, inventory turns, and vendor reliability.

Maintenance has many different types of parts that need to be tracked through the inventory function of a CMMS.

Examining these different kinds of parts will help ensure the correct controls are placed on the more important items:

  1. Bin Stock –Free issue

Bin stock items that have little individual value but are stored in large quantities

  1. Bin Stock –controlled Issue

Bin stock items that have a large value and are stored in small quantities Critical Spares

  1. Repairable Spares

Repairable spares are items like motors and pumps where the repair cost is less than replacement.

  1. Consumables

Consumables are items like batteries, where after consumed they are thrown away.

  1. Tools

Tools include acetylene torches, wrenches, etc., that are kept in a tool crib.

Maintaining a stores area that is well organized, visually attractive, and clean, contributes to increased employee satisfaction as well as heightened efficiency in the maintenance effort. This, accompanied by a well-configured CMMS database that is kept accurate and current, promotes a pro-active culture within the maintenance department and throughout the entire organization.