In this article we look at what MRO parts are, what MRO parts inventory management software is used for, and how some of the processes for managing spare and replacement parts differ from the typical inventory management for raw materials and products held for sale.

What is MRO Parts Inventory Management Software?

Most businesses have maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) activities that require them to keep stocks of spare parts, replacement parts, consumables, and tools, sometimes referred to collectively as MRO parts. Unlike raw materials and products that distributors and manufacturers stock and then sell, MRO parts are used internally rather than sold. Businesses use these MRO parts to maintain and keep their operations going smoothly. MRO parts inventory management software helps businesses keep track of their inventories of these MRO parts.

Distributors use inventory tracking software to manage the inventory levels of the products they sell. The inventory tracking software that distributors use is not really different from MRO parts inventory management software. However, MRO parts inventory management software has applicability to many types of companies beyond wholesale distributors. Distributors and services companies that offer repairs and/or maintain rental equipment, and manufacturing companies that maintain their production machinery, all use MRO parts inventory management software. Also, some of the processes that go into successfully tracking and managing MRO parts are typically different from processes for tracking products held for sale.

What MRO Parts Inventory Management Software Does

MRO parts inventory management software helps businesses keep track of MRO parts. By definition, MRO parts are critical to ensure the smooth operation of businesses. So, to function efficiently, businesses need to know what MRO parts they have on hand, where they are stored, and when they need to be restocked. Also, the aggregate cost of all of the MRO parts that companies need to keep on hand is often significant, so the repurchasing has to be done efficiently and cost-effectively. Good MRO parts inventory management software covers all these requirements.

How to Manage Inventory of MRO Parts

Though MRO parts are often less focused on than raw materials or products held for sale, they can make a big difference to businesses’ results. Running out of replacement parts for critical machinery can shut down operations and result in lost orders and lost customers. So, the best practice is to make MRO parts inventory management and supporting processes a key business focus. Good management of MRO parts using MRO parts inventory management software is complex and entails several important steps.

Creating a List of MRO Parts

Before the MRO parts inventory management software can track and manage your MRO parts, you need to create the list of all the MRO parts you want to track. With consumables and tools, this list quickly becomes extensive. Think of all the office equipment, light bulbs, machinery lubricants, protective gear, etc., that are used in your business. By creating a list of MRO parts, you will be able to get a good idea of the total spend on items that individually are often small, but in aggregate are a significant amount of the budget.

Centralize the Management of MRO Parts

Because spare parts, replacement parts, consumables and tools are used throughout a business, different departments will typically try to maintain their own inventories of their most critical needs. Once this becomes decentralized like this, managing your MRO parts inventory becomes very difficult. One department may be out of printer cartridges, but another may have excess stock. Stock levels of some MRO parts may be duplicated by different departments. To succeed you need to have MRO parts inventory management software that enforces centralization of all this inventory.

Tracking What MRO Parts are On Hand

MRO parts inventory management software will record when a PO is received and book the MRO parts into inventory to increase the inventory levels. When MRO parts are used, an inventory adjustment can be entered to record the usage and reduce the inventory. There needs to be a defined process for taking MRO parts out of inventory for use in a repair, tracking MRO parts usage and recording the inventory reduction. There also needs to be a defined process for reporting on inventory of MRO parts and repurchasing.

Where MRO Parts are Stored

To be effective, MRO parts inventory management software must be able to track inventory by location. Because MRO parts cover many different departments’ needs, MRO parts need to be located in many different locations for greater accessibility by different departments, but still tracked centrally.

Use RFQ Processes for Purchasing MRO Parts

Unlike products held for sale, many MRO parts, particularly consumables and tools, are standard. Think of light bulbs or office equipment for example. This means that you could save a lot of money by implementing RFQ (Request for Quotation) processes as part of the repurchasing of MRO parts. With an RFQ process the same list of MRO parts can be sent to multiple suppliers simultaneously and the price and terms for each item compared between suppliers. Then, based on the supplier’s quotations, place the POs in the most optimized way.

Tracking POs for MRO Parts

Because MRO parts are critical to the smooth functioning of the business, they take on an importance greater than the cost of MRO parts might imply. Some MRO parts like replacement parts might be very critical and time sensitive because you don’t want a machine to be down, and others might not be time sensitive, like light bulbs, for example. Consequently, you will need MRP parts inventory management software that tracks the time sensitive POs through the supply chain to delivery to your business and then distribution to all of the different departments that use those MRO parts. Given the number of different MRO parts that might be used in a business this is a complex set of requirements.

Summary

Implementing MRO parts inventory management software can have a big impact on businesses’ operations and smooth functioning. The functionality needed to manage inventory of raw materials and products held for sale will typically cover the tracking of inventory of MRO parts. However, some different business processes may need to be implemented to successfully track MRO parts. Businesses may also want to consider whether to implement computerized maintenance management systems in conjunction with MRO parts inventory management software.