The Impact of Poor Quality Data on Spare Parts Management

Asset-intensive organizations rely heavily on effective spare parts management to reduce costs while keeping operations running smoothly. When equipment breaks down or requires routine maintenance, maintenance personnel need to be able to figure out what spare parts are required to complete the work.

In most businesses, when faced with a work order, maintenance personnel start by searching for the vendor documentation. These documents are typically tracked in paper format, on a server, or in some disconnected maintenance Document Management System. Consequently, you first must ensure all vendor documents are up to date and then figure out which parts are required for the repair. It’s a tedious and time-consuming task. It’s so time-consuming that planners will often create spreadsheets listing the parts required to maintain different pieces of equipment. Unfortunately, this information rarely gets entered into the work order management system. Furthermore, sometimes you can’t find the vendor documents at all until you identify the equipment model installed in the field. This can happen for the following reasons:

  • It was never entered into the EAM in the first place
  • It was not kept up to date after repairs or replacement
  • The EAM asset hierarchy fails to go down to the lowest maintainable level

Once you’ve identified which parts you need to complete the work, you still need to order the parts. Usually it’s a separate part of the organization that is responsible for the supply chain and procurement of parts. In some organizations, the maintenance personnel requesting the part may not even have access to the parts and procurement systems. They simply give the vendor information to the procurement group and let them deal with it on their own.

Problems typically arise as the procurement group can’t find a part that already exists in the procurement system. Why is that? Based on our experience, here are the most common scenarios:

  • Information may have been entered incorrectly or incompletely from rushed orders
  • There is no tie back to the equipment
  • There is no efficient way to search your procurement system for potential matching parts
  • There may not be enough information to verify that parts found are the same ones requested

The parts may be in inventory or they may need to be ordered. Information on where and how to procure the parts may be already set up in the system or, more often than not, it may be necessary to place a rush order for the part. Often this results in duplicate entries of parts into the system and unnecessary expenses. Also, your parts list in your system is often filled with inconsistently named parts, duplicates, obsolete parts and other bad information. This inefficient process occurs over and over, resulting in unnecessary delays and downtime, expensive procurements, and more.