Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Spare Parts present some unique problems when attempting to automate their stocking operations. There are many software systems designed specifically to handle MRO spare parts, but often companies use their production inventory control systems for this purpose. This article is intended to explain the differences between spare parts inventory control and production inventory control and to provide some guidance in proper control.

Distinguishing Between Product and Spare Parts Inventory Control

First off, MRO Spare Parts are those parts used in the repair and maintenance of production or facility equipment. Items like gaskets, filters, bearings, fuses, etc. fall into this category. Also complete pieces of equipment are often kept in the storeroom as spares to handle failure situations or changes in production requirements.

Production Inventory, on the other hand, are raw materials that feed into your production process and become components of your facility’s output. In the typical manufacturing process, the demand for these materials depend upon your planned production output. Hence they are typically controlled by a company’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software system.

Most large companies utilize ERP systems to manage their whole production and accounting processes. There are many ERP software systems, the most popular ones provided by companies like SAP, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, for example. The implementation of these systems represent a significant investment by the company, and typically requires outside consultants as well as significant in-house support resources.

Therefore, large companies often add on integrated work order modules, which are provided by the ERP vendor. Regrettably, these add on modules are not the main focus of the ERP vendor, and are seldom best of breed applications. A significant downside to these approaches is the use of the ERP production inventory control system to manage the MRO Spare Parts.

Limitations to Production Inventory Systems

The flowing features of MRO systems are often missing from ERP Inventory systems and add on maintenance modules, or are available in limited or hard to use functionality.

Ability to link inventory to equipment and assets. Having readily available linkages between equipment and parts required for repair is invaluable for the maintenance planning and performance function. This also reduces the chance of ordering errors or the ordering of parts already in stock.

Ability to setup non-stock inventory linked back to equipment and assets. The ability to create complete parts lists for the maintenance of equipment, including material that is only ordered when required, greatly reduces the time needed to plan maintenance tasks and get materials ordered.

Setting up safety stock levels and managing low usage emergency spares. Production systems are setup to manage rapidly moving materials used in manufacturing and production systems. They seldom have the tools needed to evaluate proper MRO stocking levels.

Linkage of usage back to work orders. Too often usage of spare parts are simply issued out to a cost center for maintenance, and the ability to link back to the work orders is burdensome. The end result is difficult to analyze usage patterns needed to optimize the MRO stock.

Process Safety Management (PSM) and Mechanical Integrity (MI) regulations and requirements are difficult to manage. PSM / MI regulated materials need special ordering requirements as well as handling at receipt and issuance. Only maintenance “aware” systems can link these requirements automatically to replenishment actions.

Multiple vendor and long lead time support. MRO spare parts can often be purchase from multiple vendors, with varying lead times, prices, etc. The inventory system needs to be able to track all of these vendor’s information for accurate reordering.

Integration of high-end Maintenance and MRO Inventory Control Systems with your ERP System

Today’s high-end CMMS / EAMS systems offer easy to implement interfaces to ERP systems. This permits the plant maintenance and MRO storeroom staff to use the CMMS / EAMS system while automatically updating the ERP system and utilizing the ERP Procurement processes and accounting system. These systems, such as GP MaTe, also offer the use of portable devices to help with spare parts inventory control as well as complete work orders.

If you want to learn more about the difference between spare parts inventory control and production inventory control, then get in touch with GP MaTe today. To request a free live demo about our software that assists with maintenance work orders click here.

About GP MaTe
GP MaTe is a User-friendly maintenance and material management system that facilitates maintenance planning and inventory control. Our product has many optional modules that support Safety (PSM, MOC and LOTO), Budgeting, Multi-plant information sharing, and Operator Tours and Data Collection. The system is available in many languages and supports vendor currency conversions.