How dependable are your spare parts for important machinery at your plant? When a crucial piece of equipment needs scheduled or unscheduled maintenance, having your spare parts and related tools organized properly can cut downtime by up to 50%. A single repair job’s savings can cover the cost of the entire program in your facility if you set up a best-in-class spare-parts process.
Although most plants have critical equipment spare parts, the organization typically does not place a high priority on the overall receiving, storing, and replenishment process. Because of this philosophy, the company reacts quickly to both planned and unforeseen outages. An approach to taking charge of your essential spare parts is provided in this article. In order to define the necessary spare parts needed in the warehouse to repair the identified items, this article first reviews the costs associated with a subpar spare-parts system and provides guidance on how to identify which components of your equipment are essential. (This procedure should be integrated into your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), for example.
The procedure for assembling the kits, replenishing them after use, and putting them back in the warehouse where they belong is covered in the second section of the article. It also discusses how to store specialized tools and how to use and maintain oversized parts.
When Storing Spare Parts, What Should You Keep In Mind?
Almost every piece of coil handling equipment has wear parts that will eventually stop working. To be ready when a part fails, do you keep replacement parts on hand at your facility, or do you order them when you need them from an OEM or other vendor?
If your company prefers the latter, be sure to plan ahead to minimize downtime as much as possible.
The alternative is for organizations to keep a stock of spare parts on hand if they are uncomfortable with that option. For the most part, this is a perfectly acceptable choice, particularly for businesses that use a lot of the same press feeding machines.
However, you shouldn’t simply toss your extra parts on a shelf or, worse, the closet floor and forget about them. If you do, you might discover damaged or rusted components when you return that can’t be used.
Here are some pointers to help you make sure your spare parts are prepared to be replaced when you need them.
Consider Your Environment
Is your facility close to saltwater or another caustic environment? Does your company work with substances that have a high potential for corrosion, like salt? Or is your facility situated in a region with a high humidity level?
If so, it would be wise to find a better location for storage, whether it be off-site, a room that is isolated from the issue, or a clean, climate-controlled room.
The ideal environment will depend on what kind of equipment or parts you’re storing.
As an illustration, rubber is used to make drive wheels. Just like tires, they will develop “dry rot” if they’re stored in a hot, arid environment, exposed to the sun for extended periods and/or stored near equipment that puts off ozone, e.g., electric motors, generators, welding equipment, battery chargers. Instead, keep rubber parts somewhere warm, cozy, and comparatively dry. Additionally extending the life of the part is the use of airtight containers.
The same storage environment can be advantageous for metal components like rollers and motors. While light won’t harm metal parts the way rubber or plastic will, humidity can be harmful to metal, causing it to pit and rust over time.
It ought to go without saying, but never store parts outside or in any other environment where they are exposed to the elements.
Pack Spare Parts Correctly
Depending on an organization’s resources and location, creating the ideal storage environment may be challenging, but packing components properly is a simple way to help ensure that they are protected.
For instance, grease is frequently included in the packaging of bearings. Long-term protection can be achieved by keeping them contained in that manner until they are required.
The same holds true for other components. Equipment and parts are frequently sent pre-packaged by OEMs or parts suppliers to guard against damage from drops or environmental hazards. Organizations can typically leave the parts in that packaging unless specifically told otherwise.
Organizations can purchase VCI paper if that isn’t possible due to space restrictions or because the packaging isn’t the best for storage. This particular paper, also known as a “volatile corrosion inhibitor” or “vapor corrosion inhibitor,” prevents oxygen, moisture, and other corrosive elements from reaching the part and corroding or rusting it. The paper will also help keep parts that are coated with special materials, e.g., straightener rollers, from collecting dust.
Organizations should make sure that parts are stored correctly to prevent falls in addition to protecting them from corrosion. This is especially true for damaged metal or plastic components. Some components, such as hardened straightener rolls, can actually break if they drop just 3″ to a concrete floor. Parts can also be protected by being kept on a shelf with a lip or close to the ground.
Four Storage Options For Spare Parts
Vertical Lift Modules (vlms) For Spare Parts Inventory Management
One of the more expensive options for spare parts is a vertical lift module, but it is still reasonably priced and has a quick return on investment. The best option out of all the options is perhaps a vertical lift module. They provide a high throughput, are very clean and safe, and have a small footprint while holding a large number of goods. Even shorter VLMs can hold thousands of spare parts at a space of about 100 square feet. Products of any weight and size can be supported by a VLM. Highly configurable trays and bins within trays.
Vertical lift modules can also provide assistance with inventory management, accurate picking, and effective labeling of parts for distribution. An advanced piece of equipment like a VLM makes it very simple to train new employees and allows for a quick learning curve to reach peak performance more quickly. VLMs can function as a stand-alone product, but to take advantage of all of their capabilities, you should integrate them with your ERP or WMS.
- The highest density for storage of product and tools
- Picking aids for the fastest training of employees
- Offer security and a clean environment
- Great for spare parts and tools of all sizes
- Maximizes the vertical height of any stockroom or warehouse
- Most expensive option
- To maximize benefits, requires IT involvement for data integration
Static Shelving And Bins For Spare Parts Inventory Management
Use of static shelving combined with plastic totes or bins is one of the simplest and least expensive solutions. Static shelving is available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, giving designers a wide range of options for how to arrange the units’ interiors and their individual shelves.
By using various bin sizes on the shelves, it is possible to achieve high levels of organization while keeping parts separate from one another. Bins enable products that might not fit on a shelf to be contained and used on the shelf alongside items that aren’t in bins. An all-encompassing strategy is not necessary.
If you have a lot of inventory, one drawback of traditional static shelving is that the number of shelves you need can quickly increase. A mezzanine structure could include fixed shelving. Being able to use vertical space rather than horizontal space can help with the space issues.
- Easily configurable for spare parts and tools
- Work well with bins and totes
- Can support multiple levels with a mezzanine
- Consumes more space than other options
- Can have the lowest weight capacity, depending on the configuration
- Doesn’t utilize the vertical height of a stockroom or warehouse
Mobile Shelving For Spare Parts Inventory Management
The following option uses the same basic idea as the previous one, but the shelving’s mobility enables more dense storage. The ability to collapse your shelving and eliminate the need for aisle space can help to increase the utilization and overall capacity of the parts warehouse, whether you use wheels or tracks in the floor.
Due to the lower demand for some parts, mobile shelving can be more effective in a spare parts inventory environment than in a more conventional ecommerce business. Being able to avoid wasting aisle space on products that are emergency spares or a subset of parts that must be kept on hand for equipment that is no longer in use due to contractual obligations is crucial.
For those parts that are pricey or easily susceptible to theft, more sophisticated mobile shelving can also provide security. Only a select group of employees can move the shelves apart by using codes that can be distributed.
- Can help reduce the footprint needed for storing spare parts and tools
- Offer a high degree of security and a clean environment
- Can provide more dense storage than traditional shelving
- Not great for product that is needed on a regular basis
- May not utilize entire vertical space available compared to other options
Cabinets And Drawers For Spare Parts Inventory Management
Solutions based on cabinets and drawers are an additional choice. These are fantastic choices for smaller parts but might not be appropriate for big, heavy, and bulky ones.
This alternative, like static shelving, can quickly increase the required footprint. Because they are not constantly exposed to the elements, they provide neat and organized storage as well as a clean environment for product storage.
Usually, when parts need to be kept off-site from the main parts warehouse, we find that this kind of storage solution works great. They can be set up to fit with various desk and workstation configurations based on the size and quantity of drawers they have.
- Great for small parts and smaller tools
- Offer security and a clean environment
- Great for smaller and off site spare parts stockrooms
- May not utilize entire vertical space available
- Not typically a candidate for larger, heavier product
- Can expand the footprint needed
There are various ways to store, arrange, and manage your spare parts inventory. To choose what makes the most sense for your spare parts inventory, take into account your budget as well as the other pros and cons mentioned. There is rarely a universal fix. The majority of the environments we work in or recommend use a combination of the previously mentioned solutions.
Purchasing inventory management software is another suggestion to go along with your search and selection of new storage options. Your operations will be transformed into a productive and highly functional area with the help of parts management systems and organized storage options.