+1 617 489 2743
Select Page

# forecasting and inventory optimization

### by Philip Slater

This guest blog is authored by Philip Slater, Founder of SparePartsKNowHow.com the leading educational resource for spare parts management. Mr. Slater is a global leader and consultant in materials management and specifically, engineering spare parts inventory management and optimization. In 2012 Philip was honored with a national Leadership in Logistics Education Award. To view the original blog post, click here.

There are essentially two ways that companies express their inventory control settings: either as MAX- MIN (sometimes MIN-MAX) or ROP-ROQ.

Some people will say that it doesn’t really matter which you use, just as long as you understand the definitions and the pros and cons. However, in my experience it does matter and this is one aspect of spare parts inventory management that you really do need to get right.

## Let’s Start With the Definitions for MIN, MAX, ROP & ROQ

### MIN = short for minimum

There is, confusingly, two schools of thought about what is meant by the MIN. Most typically this is the point at which the need to order more stock is triggered. Sometimes, however, the MIN is seen as the minimum quantity that can be safely held to cover expected needs. In this case the need to order more stock is set so that the reorder point is one less than the MIN value. That is. MIN -1.

The key to managing when using a MIN setting is to understand the configuration of the computer system you use, as different definitions will change the resulting holding level, the re-order point, and perhaps even the actual safety or buffer stock.

### MAX = short for maximum

This value is most typically the targeted maximum holdings of the item. Usually, in a MAX- MIN system, where the MIN is the reorder point, the quantity reordered after reaching the MIN is the quantity required to get back to the MAX. For example, if the MAX- MIN is 5-2, when the quantity in the storeroom reaches 2, procurement would need to order 3 to get back to the MAX.

### ROP = Reorder Point

As the name suggests, quite simply, this is the stock level at which the need to reorder is triggered. This is calculated by determining the safety stock level and the stock required to service needs during the reorder lead time.

### ROQ = Reorder Quantity

Again, as the name suggest, this is the quantity to be reordered when the ROP is reached. This is not the EOQ but rather the quantity that both makes economic sense and is commercially available.

## The Differences are Meaningful and Important

It is essential that every inventory manager understands that the MAX- MIN and ROP-ROQ approaches are not simply interchangeable.

For example, in general terms:

MIN can be equated with the ROP, except if you have a system set up for reordering at a point of MIN-1. In that case, there is no equivalence.

For slow moving items the MAX can in some circumstances be equal to the ROP + ROQ. This is because for slow moving items it is possible that there will be no additional demand before the newly ordered item(s) arrive in stock.

However, with all other items the MAX is UNLIKELY to be equal to the ROP + ROQ as items may be issued between the time of reaching the MIN and the newly ordered items arriving. In fact, there is a logic that says that the MAX would never actually be achieved.

Do these differences matter? I think that they do.

For example, what if you change IT systems? If you move from one type of MAX-MIN system to another but they define the MIN differently then you cannot just migrate your data. This may not seem obvious if everyone is using the language of MAX-MIN but is classic trap where words are used in different ways.

Similarly, if you are benchmarking your holding levels with another company or site then you need to be aware of the different definitions and the outcomes that each approach would achieve. Otherwise you are comparing ‘apples with pears’.

Or what about what happens when a new team members arrives at your company and their previous company used the terms MAX-MIN but with different parameters or meaning to that your company uses. There will likely be an assumption that the terms are used in the same way and this could lead to stock shortages or overstocks, depending on the differences in the definitions.

To add further confusion, some software systems use the term ‘Safety Stock’ to represent the MIN holding level, despite this not being the universal definition of safety stock. This different nomenclature leads some people to assume that holding less than the so-called ‘safety stock’ according to your IT system is ‘unsafe’ or risky, when in fact it may not be at all. They may even be holding an excessive level of stock because they don’t properly apply the term ‘safety stock’. Calling it safety stock does not make it so.

## Pros and Cons

### MAX-MIN

Pros:

• Conceptually simple to understand.

Cons:

• Terms can be misleading in terms of safety stock and actual maximums.

• Terms are used in different ways and so caution required to ensure a common understanding.

• Values often set using ‘experience’ or intuition.

### ROP-ROQ

Pros:

• Meaning of each term is clear and consistent.

• Values set using auditable logic.

• Safety stock values clearly established.

• Holdings more likely to reflect the actual needs and commercial constraints.

Cons:

• Requires more work to determine the appropriate values.

## You Need to Get This Right

The differences between MAX-MIN and ROP-ROQ are not trivial and the terms certainly are not interchangeable. In my experience, the ROP-ROQ approach produces greater transparency and is easier to manage because there is no confusion about the meaning of the terms. This approach also produces a more appropriate and auditable level of inventory.

This suggests that if spare parts inventory management is important to you then you really do need to get this right.

Related Posts

## Leveraging Epicor Kinetic Planning BOMs with Smart IP&O to Forecast Accurately

In this blog, we explore how leveraging Epicor Kinetic Planning BOMs with Smart IP&O can transform your approach to forecasting in a highly configurable manufacturing environment. Discover how Smart, a cutting-edge AI-driven demand planning and inventory optimization solution, can simplify the complexities of predicting finished goods demand, especially when dealing with interchangeable components. Learn how Planning BOMs and advanced forecasting techniques enable businesses to anticipate customer needs more accurately, ensuring operational efficiency and staying ahead in a competitive market.

## The Next Frontier in Supply Chain Analytics

We believe the leading edge of supply chain analytics to be the development of digital twins of inventory systems. These twins take the form of discrete event models that use Monte Carlo simulation to generate and optimize over the full range of operational risks. We also assert that we and our colleagues at Smart Software have played an outsized role in forging that leading edge.

## Overcoming Uncertainty with Service and Inventory Optimization Technology

In this blog, we will discuss today’s fast-paced and unpredictable market and the constant challenges businesses face in managing their inventory and service levels efficiently. The main subject of this discussion, rooted in the concept of “Probabilistic Inventory Optimization,” focuses on how modern technology can be leveraged to achieve optimal service and inventory targets amidst uncertainty. This approach not only addresses traditional inventory management issues but also offers a strategic edge in navigating the complexities of demand fluctuations and supply chain disruptions.

#### Recent Posts

• Simple is Good, Except When It Isn’t
In this blog, we are steering the conversation towards the transformative potential of technology in inventory management. The discussion centers around the limitations of simple thinking in managing inventory control processes and the necessity of adopting systematic software solutions. […]
• Leveraging Epicor Kinetic Planning BOMs with Smart IP&O to Forecast Accurately
In this blog, we explore how leveraging Epicor Kinetic Planning BOMs with Smart IP&O can transform your approach to forecasting in a highly configurable manufacturing environment. Discover how Smart, a cutting-edge AI-driven demand planning and inventory optimization solution, can simplify the complexities of predicting finished goods demand, especially when dealing with interchangeable components. Learn how Planning BOMs and advanced forecasting techniques enable businesses to anticipate customer needs more accurately, ensuring operational efficiency and staying ahead in a competitive market. […]
• The Next Frontier in Supply Chain Analytics
We believe the leading edge of supply chain analytics to be the development of digital twins of inventory systems. These twins take the form of discrete event models that use Monte Carlo simulation to generate and optimize over the full range of operational risks. We also assert that we and our colleagues at Smart Software have played an outsized role in forging that leading edge. […]
• Epicor Acquires Smart Software for AI-Powered Inventory Planning & Optimization Technologies
The acquisition brings together two companies tightly aligned in helping organizations get to the right insights at the right time and take action to maximize business performance. . […]
• Overcoming Uncertainty with Service and Inventory Optimization Technology
In this blog, we will discuss today's fast-paced and unpredictable market and the constant challenges businesses face in managing their inventory and service levels efficiently. The main subject of this discussion, rooted in the concept of "Probabilistic Inventory Optimization," focuses on how modern technology can be leveraged to achieve optimal service and inventory targets amidst uncertainty. This approach not only addresses traditional inventory management issues but also offers a strategic edge in navigating the complexities of demand fluctuations and supply chain disruptions. […]

#### Inventory Optimization for Manufacturers, Distributors, and MRO

• Why MRO Businesses Need Add-on Service Parts Planning & Inventory Software
MRO organizations exist in a wide range of industries, including public transit, electrical utilities, wastewater, hydro power, aviation, and mining. To get their work done, MRO professionals use Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. These systems are designed to do a lot of jobs. Given their features, cost, and extensive implementation requirements, there is an assumption that EAM and ERP systems can do it all. In this post, we summarize the need for add-on software that addresses specialized analytics for inventory optimization, forecasting, and service parts planning. […]
• The Forecast Matters, but Maybe Not the Way You Think
True or false: The forecast doesn't matter to spare parts inventory management. At first glance, this statement seems obviously false. After all, forecasts are crucial for planning stock levels, right? It depends on what you mean by a “forecast”. If you mean an old-school single-number forecast (“demand for item CX218b will be 3 units next week and 6 units the week after”), then no. If you broaden the meaning of forecast to include a probability distribution taking account of uncertainties in both demand and supply, then yes. […]