For managers in mission-critical environments such as power plants, hospitals, data centers, and processing plants, spare parts inventory management is often an afterthought, and unfortunately, in many cases, it’s not considered until it’s too late and an unforeseen incident occurs.
Working in critical operations means time and money are always on your mind. But as your company grows, critical spare parts management becomes more complex. Over the years, inactive parts inventory grows along with your staff and the knowledge needed to maintain and stay in control of your equipment. With several processes to control, you may soon find vital hours and long lead times taking you by surprise.
However, we cannot underscore enough the impact uptime and availability have on all of these operations, including supply chain performance and safety. The malfunction of a single device component alone can be the deciding factor in whether or not, for example, a power station can supply a region or a lung ventilator is operative.
Thus, it is imperative for companies to limit major business risks that could emerge on the horizon by creating a spare parts management strategy to minimize and prevent potentially crippling malfunctions.
Spare parts management simplifies complex decisions
When developing your strategy to manage spare parts, there are a myriad of questions that critical operations managers must consider:
- Am I stocking the right parts?
- Are my parts in good condition?
- Where can I safely store my parts?
- Are my parts under warranty?
- Will supply issues impact my system’s reliability?
- Are my parts available 24/7?
- How do I handle product recalls?
- What if my system design changes?
These are a complex set of questions for any operation professional to answer. But you can answer these complex questions by developing a robust strategy for electrical spare parts management. There are four key ways critical operations managers can approach this strategy.
Four ways to develop an effective spare parts supply chain solution
It can feel overwhelming and even complicated to design an effective spare parts system that will protect uptime, manage costs, and extend equipment service life. There isn’t a one-size fits all approach, but four ways we recommend to go about it:
1: Identify critical parts in terms of lead-time, criticality, and availability
Spare parts are any field-installable component, or part purchased to support uptime and service continuity while increasing reliability and performance. These components include, but are not limited to, replacement parts, repair parts, and inventory spares for any new and existing equipment. Not all parts are necessary for you to keep on hand, so your prioritizing criteria should consider equipment age, criticality, environment, usage, lead time, and expense.
2: Define a strategy focused on improving Mean Time to Repair, reliability, the total cost of ownership, and overall equipment effectiveness.
Having identified the critical parts, consider how to weigh the risks of unplanned service interruption against business impact, cost, and reliable operation. Using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) spare parts according to the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations, your plant and maintenance managers can return equipment to service in the shortest possible time helping to avoid lost revenue and reduce wasted time and energy, and instead, promote operational efficiency and thereby improve your total cost of ownership.
3: Establish an inventory management process to ensure parts are mission ready
An effective spare parts management strategy adds an essential layer of uptime protection by ensuring both new and legacy spare parts are always available to keep your assets running. A spare parts strategy is especially crucial for mission-critical low- and medium-voltage electrical equipment that is heavily engineered for advanced applications. In addition, spare parts preparedness helps eliminate costly, reactive situations and reduces operational costs. Indeed, a strategic, proactive approach to stocking spare parts makes operational sense, assuring service continuity and improving your OpEx performance.
4: Outsource spare parts inventory management with critical inventory services
Leveraging external partner expertise provides peace of mind knowing all your critical parts are on-site when you need them and, in turn, can return your equipment to service efficiently and quickly.
By utilizing a supply chain expert, you can ensure that your inventory is managed, tested, and maintained using factory-recommended guidelines to guarantee a part’s readiness, optimal performance, and reliability. Furthermore, their proven inventory management strategies can be tailored to your unique business operations.
Schneider Electric’s Critical Inventory Services supports your business by protecting uptime, reducing Mean Time to Repair (MTTR), and eliminating time waiting for parts. Our service focuses on site-specific, complex spare parts and equipment you need but can otherwise have long lead times. Your inventory stock is securely located in a dedicated climate-controlled space, with continuous temperature and humidity monitoring to ensure parts are kept in the best possible conditions. Multiple contract pricing options are available to provide flexibility to best suit your business.