Spare Parts Management

Things to Consider for Successful Spare Parts Management

Operating Strategy

Most companies are reluctant to maintain a comprehensive spare part inventory because they fear that stocking assets like spares is counter-intuitive when trying to effectively control operating costs. They expect spare parts planners to identify ways to reduce cost while maintaining the performance and efficiency of network operations.

Practical spare part management is the foundation for reliable network operation and is crucial to a network managers success. As network manager, you need to know how to determine which spare parts are needed to make up an effective and comprehensive inventory system. Rather than using perception to determine what’s needed, it’s best to establish a strategic method that will adequately manage the movement and storage of your inventory.

Operating strategy, inventory control and lead times are a few of the factors you should consider when developing or reviewing your part management system. Taking these factors into account can help minimise performance disruption, promote efficiency, and reduce downtime. Ultimately, producing successful spare part management.

As a parts manager, you will either operate from a predictive or reactive position. Most companies fall into the habit of building their management strategy around reactive events. To successfully manage part inventory a manager should adopt a predictive strategy. While reactive management can be beneficial during a crisis, the essence of successful management is the ability to prevent problems before they arise.

Predictive management of spare parts includes the collection and analysis of data, and the ability to look at the entire scope of operation to locate and solve important underlying problems that may surface in the long run. In relation to collecting and analysing data, be sure to look out for patterns of failure that can reveal problems that are not clearly visible. Predictive management will help you to make better use of resources, cutting the time and cost associated with fixing issues.

Inventory Control

Your spare parts inventory does not have to be all-encompassing to be effective. In fact, it is unrealistic to stock large quantities of various parts. To achieve better control over inventory, develop clear criteria that will help define and categorise spares. Designations such as “critical” spares can help you prioritise your inventory. Recognise that terms like this are multi-dimensional, and can be refined further. For instance, a part can be labelled as critical to the operation or critical to specific machine function. A higher priority may be given to one designation over another, depending on its risk and impact if a failure should occur.

Properly storing and organising spares in a designated, secure space is also beneficial for the control of inventory. A prompting for reorder will not take place if a part is taken without a record. Likewise, if new stock is placed on the shelf without a record, it cannot be accounted for. A review and analysis of your storage and check-out system can reveal reasons for stock inaccuracies.

Lead Times

Having a thorough understanding of spare part lead times is critical to building a successful stock program. Part lead time is particularly important when determining which parts to stock. If network downtime is not critical for your company, parts that can be acquired quickly and easily can be left out of a stocking plan. However, if lost network time means a significant financial loss for your operation, even a day or two without a part can be too long. Many parts with long lead times are made to order and do not carry expediting options.  Therefore, it is best to keep parts with long lead times on hand.

New Equipment – will I need spares?

All too many times we hear the following from network, operations and maintenance mangers: “Our equipment was just installed, it’s brand new, and we don’t need spares.” While it sounds logical for many reasons, this train of thought is wrong. There is also an assumption that vendors will supply perfectly functioning, quality parts (and they typically do). But, unfortunately, part failure upon start-up is a very common occurrence

Having proper spares on hand for the start-up/commissioning of new equipment is extremely important. If a part is found to be defective, you can mitigate downtime by having spares available for replacement right away

At Telecoms Traders, we deliver real end to end solutions that enable our customers to run their networks efficiently and unscheduled downtime.

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