Wasted time and effort can be reduced by organizing inventory storage for increased productivity and safety.

5 inventory management tips to boost productivity and profit

May 13, 2016

For vehicle maintenance, repair and operations (MRO), the effective management of parts and inventory is essential to: 

- Support good maintenance planning and scheduling. 

- Maintain service and productivity levels. 

- Lessen equipment downtime. 

- Optimize inventory. 

“Big value can be found in small items like parts, fittings, fasteners, chemicals and cutting tools, as these can have a large impact on a company’s financials,” says Matt Brown, vice president of field sales for Lawson Products. “There are ways to create efficiencies and increase productivity by anticipating product demand and ensuring items are at hand when needed. 

“It pays to sweat the small stuff.” 

Lawson Products (www.lawsonproducts.com) is an industrial distributor of maintenance, repair and operational products that has been serving the industrial, commercial, institutional and government MRO market since 1952. 

Brown offers these tips to help any size MRO organization be more efficient and productive:  

1. Avoid the trap of understocking or overstocking key items.  

Capture the unique needs of your operation and identify the right mix and levels of product. Look to customized assortments and kits to improve small parts inventory control. 

2. If your technicians are specifying a product, find out why.  

“If one item holds up better than another, technicians would know,” says Brown. “When you have the choice of good-better-best, ask the people who use the item most. A durable, highly engineered product may have the lower overall cost.” 

3Improve your forecast accuracy.  

Better visibility into inventory means knowing what is where at all times. “Managing stockouts with unplanned trips to off-site stores, or relying on overnight delivery, is not only a productivity killer,” he says, “it consumes profit.” 

4Account for every item used in the job.  

“Don’t relegate shop supplies to an undefined expense,” recommends Brown. “You account for a battery charger or a shop light, so why wouldn’t you include, hydraulic hoses, fittings and fasteners and other consumables?  

“A good vendor managed inventory partner will provide reports documenting your spend by product category.” 

5. Apply Lean design principles for process improvement.  

Brown advises focusing on space utilization by observing traffic in a technical or supply area for a period of time. How many extra steps are taken from the parts room to the workplace? What’s the average time spent looking for parts or the frustration level in having to dig through unsorted drawers?  

“Even small configuration modifications can reduce wasted time and effort, improving operating performance and working conditions,” he points out. 

About the Author

David A. Kolman | Contributor - Fleet Maintenance

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