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Storeroom & Spare Parts - What good looks like-part 2

by Angel Custodio

Storeroom Organization

Storerooms need to be organized in such a way that anybody can find any part. This involves two major areas, Physical location and a means to find a part.

Physical organization – This is the physical location of the part. It can be in one or several locations. A best practice regarding location is to identify the part in its most precise location. Examples:

    1. Cabinet# - Drawer# – row – pocket

This can be accomplished when loading or maintaining a drawer. Always start on the left of the drawer and add rows and pockets as you add parts. Always leave the equivalent of 2 rows to compensate for the overflow of parts in any particular moment. If by any chance you receive additional part that cannot be placed in the original location, such as for a shutdown, you can place them in another section of the storeroom that can be called “overflow”. Most CMMS can deal with multiple locations.

  1. Row# – Rack# - shelf – position

A position on the shelf can be done by using plastic containers or boxes. This will give a unique position for the part on the shelf. In addition, you can use one location for multiple parts if needed.

Another method of getting that unique position is by placing colored tape marking the position.

What and where to locate a part

Locating a spare in storeroom has always been a challenge. We ask questions such as “This bearing, should I place it with the general bearing commodity or should I place it with the specific equipment it is used on?” There are no specific answers, but there are guidelines that will help you make the decision. Most Inventory systems can handle multiple part locations. That means that you can have 10 bearings in location XX and 5 of the same bearings in location YY. This functionality is solid; however, there are a few precautions you should take:

  1. Everyone needs to know that they are multiple locations; a common situation is a line mechanic not finding a bearing in YY location (chaos breaks out) and not knowing it has another location.
  2. Inventory controls needs to be in place (IRA counts, max / min levels)
  3. Inventory re-order system needs to be challenge and verify that it takes into account both locations

Some parts location options:

  1. All commodities together – Placing together all bearings, fuses, electrical parts, mechanical seals, etc.

Some Advantages:

  1. Locating similar parts (like for like) when adding a new part into the system.
  2. Control of inventory levels.
  3. Inventory value $$ can be improved

Some Disadvantages

  1. Equipment Spare Parts list or BOM’s needs to be accurate and truthful.
  2. Inventory levels needs to account for parts issues on all equipment
  1. Parts stored by equipment – placing together all compressor part, pumps, winder, etc. Some Advantages:
    1. Negligible need for accurate Equipment spare part list
    2. Easy to find, everything is in the same rack, drawer, etc.

Some Disadvantages:

  1. Good possibility of duplicated parts
  2. Inventory value $$ increases
  3. If part not on stock, difficult to find another one.

Finding a part

As mentioned above, the ease of finding a part in any inventory depends on various factors such as:

  1. Where and how was it stored (see item #2 above)?
  2. Did I find it on a previous occasion?
  3. Do I know how to find a part in the CMMS?
  4. Do I know how my storeroom is organized

This is a true story in which I was involved. By nature people are resistant to change. When the change is in a part location, it is not resistance, it is a rebellion!! “If I have been finding this sprocket for the last 15 years in this location, why change it?”  This is what I recently heard in a plant. The scenario was that the plant purchased two vertical storage units in order to provide more space for a plant expansion. The storeroom was impacted and needed to give up floor space. The solution: Vertical Storage Units! Yes indeed, the logic and studies told management that this was the correct movement. What happen after the implementation? Trades productivity went down & machine downtime went up. Why? The trades were not able to find parts, especially in the 2nd and 3rd shifts, when no storeroom personnel were available.

Before the Vertical units, rows of racks and open shelving were the storage method. They were organized by equipment; however a formal spare parts list did not exist. When somebody wanted to find a part, they stood in front of the rack and more or less knew where it was. After that, pulling and opening boxes was involved. The crazy thing was they did it very fast (used it before or somebody did).

When parts were moved to the vertical storage, a cross reference of parts was created (old location vs new location). However, in order to be more efficient in the storage, they moved to storage by commodity method. Not only the parts were moved, but they organized it differently!! Like I mentioned, it was chaos.

After a few weeks, processes were established and people were trained. The plant started to build Spare Part list by equipment and printouts were available (hardcopy and electronic). Posters on “How to search for parts” were place around the plant and “Cheat Sheets” were printed and laminated on 3 x 5 cards.

I hope that you’ll find the techniques in this article useful in your own storeroom management process. 

Do you need help with best practices in Spare Parts and Materials management?  IDCON has a wealth of knowledge in our resource library, through consulting, training and our publication “Reliability Based Spare Parts and Materials Management Book”.