When it comes to running successful distribution center (DC) operations and manufacturing facilities, sometimes it's the things that we don't always pay attention to that can make the greatest impacts on productivity. The critical spare parts needed to keep DCs and manufacturing facilities running at peak performance are a perfect example. To prevent unexpected downtime and disruptions for your customers, these parts need to be on-site and quickly accessible in the event of an emergency. Simply put: it's a matter of having the right part at the right time. Unfortunately, this is an area where many operations stumble, and the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality can often lead to costly downtime.
In Intelligrated's latest On The Move webinar, titled "7 parts best practices you can start using today," I explained how maintenance teams can establish effective spare parts management programs.
1. The first step is to utilize computerized maintenance management systems / enterprise asset management systems (CMMS / EAMS) to manage parts inventories and provisioning. For those who do not have one of these systems in place, a simple Excel spreadsheet may be used, but requires diligence to implement parts check-in and check-out processes.
2. Recommended spare parts lists (RSPLs) from the manufacturer of the material handling equipment (MHE) provide a comprehensive list of all the parts you need on-site to support your systems. It's equally as important to periodically compare inventory on hand to the RSPL to identify any parts missing from your inventory.
3. Next, I talked about the necessity for realistic budgeting, especially as systems age and spare parts expenses increase. To help with this effort, Intelligrated recommends an annual assessment of your MHE to determine if maintenance is required, what parts are needed and if upgrades are available.
4. Keeping well-organized spare parts cages - that are secure, clean, organized and labeled with location IDs and part numbers corresponding to the inventory management system - is critical to finding the product when you need it most.
5. Having processes in place that lead to inventory accuracy is another key to a successful spare parts management program. Maintenance teams should perform annual physical inventory or institute periodic cycle counts to make sure critical parts are on-site.
6. Work with value-added vendors (not just vendors offering the lowest cost) to cover any possible contingency. Vendors should provide access to multiple channels for ordering and help with planning for emergencies, budgeting or obsolescence. If operations are down in the middle of the night, you want a vendor that can ship parts same-day and offer 24X7 availability. Convenient purchasing arrangements - such as PunchOut integration - also save time and money.
7. Last, I talked about the importance of proper training for maintenance staff to document procedures and reinforce best practices. Capturing staff feedback and gaining their buy-in are critical to establish an environment where everyone is working together toward downtime prevention. And, as I always say, "Don't forget the donuts."
With an estimated 50 percent of MRO budgets spent on spare parts, it's ironic that many DCs and manufacturing facilities either don't have the correct spare parts on-site or are unable to find these parts when they're needed most. Following these simple best practices can help expedite planned maintenance and prevent prolonged, unexpected outages that can derail DC and manufacturing productivity.
To view this webinar in its entirety, please visit our On The Move webinar library.
Keeping a distribution center running at full capacity requires having access to the right parts at the right time. Even though 50 percent of the average maintenance, repair and operations budget is spent on spare parts, many DCs either don't have the correct spare parts onsite or are unable to find these parts when they're needed most - during planned maintenance, or worse, an unexpected outage that's cutting into DC productivity.
But many best practices, if followed, can help avoid such pitfalls and maintain DC uptime objectives.
In our next On The Move webinar, titled, "7 parts best practices you can start using today," Bridget Burkhardt, Intelligrated's lifecycle support services business development manager for parts, will discuss these best practices in detail. As a full-service equipment manufacturer of automated material handling solutions, Intelligrated has extensive experience helping clients employ effective spare parts management programs.
This informative webinar will take place on Tuesday, February 21 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST. By attending this webinar, attendees will learn about the following topics:
- CMMS / EAMS - Computerized maintenance management systems / enterprise asset management systems are critical to automating maintenance operations and keeping track of spare parts requirements
- Spare parts lists - Recommended spare parts lists from OEMs help DC managers stock the right parts to avoid unplanned downtime and quickly replenish parts after use
- Budgeting - It's important to develop realistic budgeting models based on the age of the equipment in your DC and prioritization of critical parts
- Parts cages - Every spare parts management program must include organization strategies and processes to check parts in and out of inventory
- Inventory processes - Know when it's time to re-order a part and have the safeguards in place to identify when a part is out of stock
- Value-added vendor - There are many advantages to using a value-added vendor, from ease of ordering and same-day shipping to technical support and obsolescence planning
- Training of maintenance staff - Ongoing training is imperative to ensuring adherence to processes and staff participation in improvement of these activities
Register now to join Bridget Burkhardt on Tuesday, February 21 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST for an important discussion on spare parts management.
It's fairly commonplace for retailers to invest in multi-million dollar material handling systems that serve as the backbone of their distribution operations. What's not as common is the practice of effective lifecycle management to maximize the uptime of these systems by preparing and planning for the unexpected. When you stop and think about it, the reason for this oversight may be somewhat obvious. When systems are new and running at peak performance, it's easy to become complacent and think that things will always run this smoothly. But over time, maintenance is required, controls become obsolete and inevitable situations arise that threaten to halt productivity for hours, days or even weeks. I recently discussed how to avoid this occurrence in our latest On The Move webinar titled," Maximize your material handling system's ROI with lifecycle management."
I was joined on the third installment of our new webinar series by two experts from Intelligrated's lifecycle support services division: Dave Trice, CSCP and senior director of business development, customer service and support; and Corey Calla, senior director of lifecycle sales.
I kicked off the presentation with a definition of lifecycle management and an explanation of why it's critical to managing system assets. Then I explained to those present that lifecycle management programs help managers answer these important questions:
- How will we maintain our system, through reactive and preventive measures?
- What training and support will be required (both internal and external)?
- How will we adapt the system to industry trends and business process changes?
- How can we optimize the system as it matures to maintain peak performance and prevent obsolescence?
To reiterate some valuable points I made in the webinar, the key results of successful lifecycle management planning are ROI, uptime, planned support, low total cost of ownership and continuous system improvement. These all lead to increased system safety, efficiency and dependability.
Dave Trice followed me with a detailed look at what makes up an effective lifecycle management plan. Whether the system is new or mature, he explained that an initial assessment is critical in developing a road map for success. Assessment provides the following lifecycle framework:
- Baseline of system performance and benchmark of OEM specs standards
- Scope of assets, software / hardware platforms, maintenance requirements and spare parts
- Results driven by reporting to establish basis for financial and resource planning
Dave demonstrated how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is important in maintaining visibility to system assets throughout the lifecycle. The webinar's live polling question confirmed his point that most CMMS installations aren't used to their full capacity, a problem he attributed to poor implementation of the software. Used to its full extent, CMMS can improve labor productivity and asset performance through accurate planning and inventory management.
Finally, Corey Calla discussed the importance of partnering with an experienced lifecycle management OEM. He said this gives the DC managers a distinct advantage throughout the system lifecycle by gaining access to a full support network of experts and services, including: system engineers, Web tools, data collection and reporting through the CMMS. An OEM that has intimate knowledge of a material handling system and its lifecycle can not only provide quick resolution of issues but also have the historical data to understand root causes and respond expeditiously.
To view this presentation in its entirety, please visit the archives section of our website.
As omnichannel fulfillment requirements become increasingly complex, it's fairly commonplace for retailers to invest in multi-million dollar material handling systems for their distribution operations. All too often, we hear industry stories about companies that make these significant system investments without knowing how to maximize their ROI or planning for its operation, maintenance or evolution throughout the lifecycle. We see material handling systems that may have been engineered for retail store distribution that are now operating primarily as e-commerce facilities. One significant consequence of such an unplanned transition is added expense due to various system adjustements needed to achieve performance goals.
With a proper lifecycle management plan, companies can avoid material handling system missteps and maximize ROI without sacrificing customer service levels. On February 23 at 2 p.m. EST, we will address this topic in our next On The Move webinar, titled "Maximize your material handling system's ROI with lifecycle management." The webinar will explain how successful companies can create a lifecycle management plan for their material handling system and support staff. Intelligrated lifecycle support services experts John Sorensen, Dave Trice and Corey Calla will co-present this informative webinar and cover five key points:
1. Why lifecycle management is critical to maximizing ROI and maintaining profitability - When considering a new material handling system investment, companies should have a clear lifecycle plan from the outset, not only for the system itself, but for the staff and training required to operate it. This is also a good time to evaluate market trends to see what needs may arise within the next five years.
2. How effective lifecycle planning leads to better budget and resource planning - To maximize system ROI, companies benefit from careful planning of capital expenditures, especially the potential to defer these costs across mulitple years. This way, they're over-investing in a first year upgrade when a planned multiple-year expansion could meet the same objectives while offering better long- and short-term operational advantages.
3. The importance of establishing predictable maintenance schedules and procedures - Maintenance is a critically important part of a lifecycle management plan, but it's important to consider its impacts on both uptime and equipment ROI. But the industry's lack of skilled maintenance personnel makes it difficult to find and keep a qualified service team on-site - and makes training what staff you do have even more important. There are many maintenance strategies to address all of these issues.
4. When to replace parts, plan rebuilds, and upgrade software and controls - With the continuous operation of material handling systems, it's inevitable that certain parts will need to be replaced. Having a parts list and even a schedule for planned replacement is critical to maintaining uptime. Technology upgrades, which include software releases and controls components that become obsolete over time, must also be accounted for in a lifecycle management plan.
5. How partnering with an experienced OEM can deliver optimal results - Partnering with an OEM that takes a proactive approach to lifecycle management is perhaps the most important factor to consider when purchasing a material handling system. Very few OEMs have the customer commitment, qualified resources and industry expertise to offer anything other than reactionary programs.
As more leading retailers seek to ensure 99 percent uptime objectives and maximize ROI, effective lifecycle management will become increasingly essential in any material handling system investment. We hope you'll join our webinar to learn how you can implement a true lifecycle management plan. Register here and stay tuned for more relevant topics in our new On The Move webinar series.
In the latest video blog, John Sorensen discusses lifecycle management and the rebranding of Intelligrated's aftermarket services.