When deciding on the right stocking parameters for spare parts and service parts, it is important to distinguish between consumable and repairable service parts. These differences are often overlooked by service parts planning software and can result in incorrect estimates of what to stock. Different approaches are required when planning for consumables vs. repairable spare parts.
First, let’s define these two types of spare parts.
- Consumable parts are spares contained within the equipment which are replaced rather than repaired when they fail. Examples of consumable parts include batteries, oil filters, screws, and brake pads. Consumable spare parts tend to be lower-cost parts for which replacement is cheaper than repair or repair may not be possible.
- Repairable parts are parts that are capable of being repaired and returned to service after failing due to causes like wear and tear, damage, or corrosion. Repairable service parts tend to be more expensive than consumable parts, so repair is usually preferable to replacement. Examples of repairable parts include traction motors in rail cars, jet engines, and copy machines.
Traditional spare parts planning software fail to do the job
Traditional parts planning software is not well-adapted to deal with the randomness in both the demand side and the supply side of MRO operations.
Planning for consumable spare parts requires calculation of inventory control parameters (such as reorder points and order quantities, min and max levels, and safety stocks). Planning to manage repairable service parts requires calculation of the right number of spares. In both cases, the analysis must be based on probability models of the random usage of consumables or the random breakdown of repairable parts. For over 90% of these parts, this random demand is “intermittent” (sometimes called “lumpy” or “anything but normally distributed”). Traditional spare parts forecasting methods were not developed to deal with intermittent demand. Relying on traditional methods leads to costly planning mistakes. For consumables, this means avoidable stockouts, excess carrying costs, and increased inventory obsolescence. For repairable parts, this means excessive equipment downtime and the attendant costs from unreliable performance and disruption of operations.
Planning for consumable spare parts must take account of randomness in replenishment lead times from suppliers. Planning for repairable parts must account for randomness in repair and return processes, whether provided internally or contracted out. Planners managing these items often ignore exploitable company data. Instead, they may cross their fingers and hope everything works out, or they may call on gut instinct to “call audibles” and then hope everything works out. Hoping and guessing cannot beat proper probability modeling. It wastes millions annually in unneeded capital investments and avoidable equipment downtime.
Spare Parts Planning Software solutions
Smart IP&O’s service parts forecasting software uses a unique empirical probabilistic forecasting approach that is engineered for intermittent demand. For consumable spare parts, our patented and APICS award winning method rapidly generates tens of thousands of demand scenarios without relying on the assumptions about the nature of demand distributions implicit in traditional forecasting methods. The result is highly accurate estimates of safety stock, reorder points, and service levels, which leads to higher service levels and lower inventory costs. For repairable spare parts, Smart’s Repair and Return Module accurately simulates the processes of part breakdown and repair. It predicts downtime, service levels, and inventory costs associated with the current rotating spare parts pool. Planners will know how many spares to stock to achieve short- and long-term service level requirements and, in operational settings, whether to wait for repairs to be completed and returned to service or to purchase additional service spares from suppliers, avoiding unnecessary buying and equipment downtime.
Contact us to learn more how this functionality has helped our customers in the MRO, Field Service, Utility, Mining, and Public Transportation sectors to optimize their inventory. You can also download the Whitepaper here.
White Paper: What you Need to know about Forecasting and Planning Service Parts
This paper describes Smart Software’s patented methodology for forecasting demand, safety stocks, and reorder points on items such as service parts and components with intermittent demand, and provides several examples of customer success.