Inventory optimization is tough, but maintenance, repair, and operations inventory management is even tougher because the parts just sit there until they are needed — and sometimes, either due to proper maintenance or just good luck, the critical part you are stockpiling for your production line sits on the shelf three times longer than expected while other times the critical part has to be replaced twice as often as the vendor who sold you the machine told you it would have to be.
The last thing you want to do is get the stock levels wrong because inventory is expensive. In addition to the capital that is tied up in the inventory, there are the facility storage costs (which include rent, overhead expenses for services like security, and property taxes) and the possession costs that include, but are not limited to, clerical costs (to track the inventory), insurance (to insure the inventory as a whole), theft (as the insurance policy will have a deductible and a maximum claim), taxes (when the organization takes possession), deterioration (as some inventory will get damaged or spoil), depreciation (as most components decrease in value over time), and obsolescence (if the inventory cannot be used in time). Having inventory sit idle is very costly.
To make matters worse, many of these parts are very expensive and often have no residual value if unused. Whereas unpopular consumer packaged goods can often be sold at fire-sale prices which will allow you to recover some of their cost, this is not always so with MRO. This is because the parts are typically only useable within a particular machine on your production line and by the time you shut it down, chances are that the supplier is no longer selling the machine and most of the suppliers’ other customers are no longer using the machine as well. In addition, many MRO parts and supplies, especially in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and high-tech industries, have specific storage requirements (cool, dry, etc.) and this makes the storage cost even pricier than for regular (consumer) goods.
With typical inventory carrying cost eating up approximately 25% to 40% of a company’s annual inventory investment, the last thing you want is too much inventory, especially since certain MRO categories with special storage requirements and a high risk of obsolescence can have amortized inventory carrying costs that are close to the total value of the inventory! Unless you like having millions tied up in inventory, you need to make sure that you optimize your MRO inventory to the best of your ability. If you can’t do that, don’t rely on creativity — that won’t be enough because just one wrong JIT (Just in Time) decision can bring your entire production line down for days and cost you Millions of dollars. If you don’t have a suitable platform and the expertise in house, don’t rely on creativity. Apply a little Xtivity instead.