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Machine and component failures are the most common causes of downtime for small to medium-sized organizations, so it is no surprise that companies often keep replacement parts in stock. Some plant managers believe this helps to reduce the time it takes to replace a part, but having a large inventory of spare stock can have a negative impact on plant efficiency all year-round.
In the United States alone, businesses and consumers spend more than a trillion dollars on duplicates of products they already own. To help keep your organization from falling into this trap, it is important to be aware of the issues involved with storing spare industrial stock as well as the alternatives that are available to manufacturers.
One of the main problems with storing spare stock is that it needs to be maintained. Imagine sending a requisition to the stock room for a spare part or assembly only to fit it and find out that it does not work because it has been sitting in inventory for several years.
By not stocking a large number of spares, plant managers can give their storeroom staff more time to maintain the stock that really matters. In addition, component suppliers will often take uncritical spare parts off manufacturers' hands, helping to relieve the pressure on plant personnel.
There is also a common assumption that all manufacturers have the facilities to store spare parts in an organized manner. In fact, many companies have no choice but to keep this stock wherever there is space. This can result in health and safety hazards as well as an inefficient workspace.
Stocking spare parts in a busy working environment or in front of a critical piece of machinery that needs around-the-clock access can cause more trouble than it's worth. However, the biggest problem with not having a dedicated space for spare stock comes from the safety implications. Spare parts can become trip hazards or even block fire exits and escape routes. This can result in significant fines and even a plant shutdown if investigated by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Remember, your spare stock is not worth risking the health of your staff or your company's reputation.