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How to Improve Spare Parts Management for Maintenance

Blog 3YOURMIND | May 15, 2023 | 4 min read

In this article, learn six tactics for improving spare parts management for maintenance.

Managing spare parts for OEMs and MROs is no easy feat. Maintaining legacy equipment and machinery often means tying up capital in large quantities of slow-moving parts while incurring high warehousing costs to avoid costly downtime or long production lead times. Despite careful monitoring and forecasting, companies often struggle with procuring spare parts for maintenance. 

Spare parts management plays a critical role in equipment operation – it's essential to maintenance because it enables businesses to keep their equipment running efficiently, reduce downtime, and minimize repair costs. However, managing spare parts can be daunting, especially for businesses with large inventories of legacy equipment and machinery.

In this article, we will discuss some best practices that businesses can use to improve their spare parts management for maintenance.

6 Tactics for Improving Spare Parts Management for Maintenance

Implement an Inventory Management System

An inventory management system is a technical solution that enables businesses to track their spare parts inventory. This system can provide real-time visibility into the stock levels of different parts, the location of those parts, and the frequency of their usage. By using an inventory management system, businesses can reduce the time and resources required to manually manage their spare parts inventory.

Categorize Your Spare Parts

Categorizing spare parts involves grouping similar parts together based on their attributes, such as size, function, manufacturer, etc. This practice helps businesses quickly find the parts they need when needed, reducing the equipment's downtime. Categorizing parts is also helpful for identifying parts that are no longer needed and which parts offer valuable on-demand manufacturing use cases. By identifying parts suitable for on-demand manufacturing, businesses can reduce warehousing costs and free up capital that would normally be locked in overstock for slow-moving parts.

Prioritize Which Parts Should be Reengineered for On-Demand

If a manufacturer has gone out of business or no longer produces a part, finding a replacement supplier capable of remanufacturing parts requires significant production lead time. For this reason, creating a priority list of parts that can be produced via 3D printing is critical. 3D printing can produce parts using complex structures like lattices to reduce weight, improve part performance, and can be produced on-demand, reducing order and production lead times. 

Part screening software that analyzes 3D files and 2D drawings can quickly evaluate thousands of parts simultaneously to prioritize which parts are suitable for 3D printing. This approach alleviates engineer workloads to help them focus on the best-case parts versus performing individual part analysis.

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3YOURMIND's digital inventory platform makes ordering parts easy.

Build a Digital Inventory

Once parts have been prioritized and re-engineered for 3D printing, parts can be added to a digital inventory, which functions as a repository for 3D part designs. The benefit of digital inventories is that part files can be shared with satellite production facilities and manufactured closer to their end-use. Versus ordering a part from long-distance suppliers, digital inventories help to localize production by building distributed manufacturing models.

For example, suppose a part is added to a digital inventory by an organization's innovation teams. In that case, a procurement manager or maintenance engineer in a different facility can request that part be ordered from a nearby qualified supplier.

Create a Reorder Plan

Setting up a reorder point is another technical measure to improve spare parts management. This is a predetermined inventory level that, when reached, triggers the automatic ordering of additional spare parts. Whether for low-volume on-demand parts or high-volume critical spares, businesses can ensure they never run out of spare parts and prevent unnecessary downtime by setting up a reorder point.

Embrace Predictive Analytics

Using predictive analytics is another technical solution that can be implemented to improve spare parts management. Predictive analytics involves using algorithms to analyze historical data and predict future trends. By analyzing data such as equipment usage, spare parts replacement history, and environmental factors, businesses can identify patterns and predict when spare parts will be needed, reducing the chances of equipment failure.

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Maintenance Spare Parts Management is Easier with On-Demand

On-demand manufacturing can make maintenance spare parts management easier by eliminating the need for large spare parts inventories that can take up valuable space, require frequent inventory checks, and tie up capital. Instead, on-demand manufacturing enables the production of parts only when needed, reducing waste and cost.

3YOURMIND addresses spare part management for maintenance by empowering companies to take greater ownership of their parts. Whether it's producing parts on-site or through a qualified supplier, 3YOURMIND gives companies the keys to reinforce their own supply chains and produce closer to their end-use.

From identifying the best use cases for on-demand manufacturing to qualifying parts and building inventories, as well as ordering parts and managing production quality, 3YOURMIND is a comprehensive on-demand manufacturing solution to address spare parts management.

Want to learn more ways you can address spare parts management? Download our free ebook, The Maintenance Engineer's Guide to On-Demand Manufacturing.

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