A component of Spare Parts Inventory Control is documenting the linkage of spare parts inventory to the equipment on which they are used, which will provide a major benefit to your maintenance operations. These spare parts lists, or bills of materials, are used in many ways by your CMMS to make processes more efficient and effective.


We have been working with customers for over 35 years to implement CMMS / EAMS solutions worldwide. During this time we have seen many different approaches to try and integrate these systems into existing or new processes and procedures for the surrounding business environment. This series of “Success Topics” is our attempt to share some of the recurring topics that we feel provide the best return on investment of time and effort to address.

Spare Parts Inventory Control covers many functions and building parts lists may seem like a minor item in the vast scope of a CMMS / EAMS implementation. But in our work with customers, this topic (or more precisely the existence of accurate parts lists) is a factor expressed by maintenance departments as the key enabler for seeing the software system as a benefit to their daily work.

Why are parts lists so important to Spare Parts Inventory Control and Maintenance Management?

One needs to recognize that users will only use a software tool if it provides some benefit to their performance of their assigned tasks. You want the user to be more efficient and effective when using a CMMS versus a manual paper based system. With this in mind, having available the linkage of spare parts and equipment will provide the following benefits.

For maintenance planners and supervisors

Immediate access to the list of parts and their availability for any corrective action. A key responsibility of the maintenance management team is to be able to respond to problems and assign staff to work. Being able to determine if parts are available to correct a problem, or if a work around is needed until parts can be obtained. Having this information displayed by a click of a button versus searching through bad parts descriptions and funky manufacturer part number formats to find the part(s) in question.

For maintenance technicians

Some CMMS Systems (as well as GP MaTe) will print out a parts list with a work order, which shows what parts are stocked, quantities available and stock locations. This permits the technician to make decisions while investigating a problem on what actions can be taken, based upon part availabilities without having to go back to the store room to check on parts.

For storeroom managers

Parts lists provide “where used” information that is critical for developing good reorder points and reorder quantity specifications for the inventory. Certainly usage data is important, but knowing that there are four pumps using the same bearing will also have an influence on these calculations.

Spare Part QA/QC classifications

GP MaTe has the option to force QA/QC requirements on spare parts based upon regulations applied to specific equipment (e.g. mechanical integrity/PSM). For this to work, the linkage via parts lists is required.

How to Develop Parts Lists?

The primary issue here is usually a resource issue; how do we take the time to pull this information together and enter it into our CMMS?

The answer to this depends upon a few factors. Are you collecting data to do an initial implementation or do you have some history of parts usage? Also do you have other sources of linkages between parts and equipment that is in a machine readable format (i.e. spreadsheets)?

Information is available in spreadsheets

If you have some of this information available in spreadsheet format, most CMMS vendors will load this information, often for a small fee. The biggest hurdle here is making sure that the equipment identifiers and the spare part identifiers in your spreadsheet data matches those loaded in your CMMS. In most cases, the equipment and inventory information must be loaded in the CMMS before the parts lists can be created (or all three are created during the same data load).

Alternatively, this information can be used to direct the “manual” entry of this information into your CMMS. In the case of GP MaTe, it is a very simple process of selecting parts from a list for each parts list. If your spreadsheet has this information sorted by spare part identifier, this can be a very quick process.

History of Usage

If you have been using your CMMS for several years, you can often use the usage information to build your parts lists. GP MaTe has routines that can review usage and update or create your MPLs based upon usage.

Continuous Improvement Approach

A realistic approach for organizations that is unable to invest dedicated time to the process of building parts lists, can develop a longer term approach to building their parts lists. In a continuous improvement approach, you define an incremental approach that will eventually reach a goal of complete parts lists. To properly manage such an approach, you need to be able to measure your status in reaching your goal, as well as being able to measure a positive impact on your operations. The first is easy, the second is harder.

There are, in general, two approaches for CIA in developing parts lists.

Equipment Oriented Approach

In this approach, the management team makes decisions based upon equipment categories, say for example, pumps first, valves second, compressors third, etc. A time frame is then decided upon, perhaps influenced by the number of equipment in each category, and resources are committed to generate parts lists for each group with a time limit.

Inventory Oriented Approach

Similar to the equipment based approach, this is looking at either inventory locations or inventory types, and assigning inventory to parts lists. Often, to make this easier, a parts list is pre-generated in the system for each piece of equipment. (If your CMMS supports combined parts lists for redundant, same make / model equipment – like GP MaTe – then these redundant parts lists can be later identified and combined.)

A similar approach is to require that the process of issuing parts to work orders require a second step of adding that part to the parts list for the equipment on the work order.

Either of these approaches can be accelerated by the use of summer interns and temporary staff.

Expected Results and ROI for your Spare Parts Inventory Control Program

There are three areas where an organization should see measurable results of generating accurate parts lists. These do not count a less measurable outcome of maintenance efficiencies and effectiveness, since there are too many other influencers to this outcome.

  • Reduction of non-stock orders for parts that are in fact stocked but hard to identify
  • Reduced inventory carrying costs due to improved reorder points and quantities
  • Identification of no longer needed spare parts

The first outcome should be somewhat automatic and measurable as more parts are added to parts lists and the maintenance staff start utilizing these for inventory look-ups. The second two require some effort by storeroom personnel to utilize the new wealth of information provided by parts lists to better manage their inventory.

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