Nowadays many modern manufacturing and service organizations heavily rely on the reliability and the availability of physical assets, such as transport systems, manufacturing systems, etc. Frequent failures or long down times may result in enormous production losses, and ultimately in loss of business.
Effective maintenance policies should prevent unexpected failures or long downtimes. Practice shows that even the most sophisticated maintenance policies cannot prevent long downtimes when having insufficient spare parts on site. For example, preventive maintenance programs often have an inspection-based character. That means – simply stated – that the ‘when & what’ to inspect is known. However, the potentially resulting repair job including the required spares is not known in advance.
Practice also shows that the spares management is a headache issue for various stakeholders. Without pretending to be complete, the list below provides an impression of the typical current practice:
- The spares availability is too low, affecting the maintenance operations;
- The working capital is too high, putting pressure on the financial situation of the organisation;
- The stores are full of parts that hardly move;
- The procurement department is working overtime due to the vast amount of uncoded and unstructured requests for spares.
Many companies stress the importance of solving the spares issues, yet they struggle to define an effective roadmap that leads to sustainable solutions. This paper describes a generic roadmap that serves as an inspiration for maintenance organizations worldwide and allows companies defining their starting point. Secondly, we deal with the most encountered roadblocks on this journey.