Minimize Downtime and Reduce Inventory Cost by Optimizing Spare Part Availability

The lack of a spare part for one of the machines in your plant can lead to downtime. If a critical part is not in stock, the plant runs the risk of extended downtime from equipment failure. However, inventory is expensive. If a company is overstocked and has too many spare parts, it is overpaying for storage, and the parts may become obsolete as manufacturers update their lines.

How do you find the right balance?

With legacy equipment, a preventive maintenance approach could help provide that equilibrium between having too many parts sitting in stock rooms and not having a critical part needed to keep equipment running. Such an approach, typically called calendar-based maintenance, uses information from the manufacturer as to when a part should be inspected or replaced. Many organizations trust the vendor’s recommendations for spares because they feel it is a good starting point. LLumin’s READYTrak software can help a plant manager and maintenance and repair crews know exactly which parts need to be in stock, and when, based on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

LLumin’s READYTrak can help by providing accurate historical usage data for every part, which can then be used to determine what parts need to be ordered and when. Then, the LLumin software can work with ERP systems to generate orders for needed parts and can use knowledge of a vendor’s delivery timeline in the ERP systems to place orders in advance, so parts arrive in time for scheduled maintenance. This is possible due to the LLumin software’s financial systems interface that allows tight integration with major ERP and financial systems.

Still, more can be done. Many organizations trust the vendor’s recommendations for spares because they feel it is a good starting point. Most vendors recommend stocking some critical items and a few wear parts for maintenance; however, sometimes, you may have stock of unnecessary items that are expensive to hold in inventory and may never or rarely be needed.

Replacing parts based on the average recommended lifetime takes some parts out of service that could keep working for many more days, months, or years. The organization loses that extra useful service life it could get from the part and burns through more inventory than need be the case.

If newer equipment with embedded monitoring devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors is installed, a plant can use proactive maintenance to optimize inventory further. LLumin’s READYTrak uses real-time predictive maintenance that makes use of data from embedded sensors, IoT devices, and midstream control systems to spot potential problems as they are happening and to assess the probability of a part’s failure. With the information from IoT devices and control systems, a company can pre-emptively decide which parts must be in stock and when based perhaps on a cost analysis of the likelihood of a failure versus the impact of downtime if the part fails and is not in stock.