From Clutter to Clarity: Lessons Learned from a Successful MRO Storeroom Makeover

Kristin Steins, Complii; Barry Mathia, Cardinal Glass

Embarking on a maintenance parts storeroom remodel project is a significant endeavor that can yield remarkable results. Beyond the physical transformation lies a wealth of invaluable lessons that can shape future improvement initiatives. Join us as we delve into the key insights and lessons learned from the Cardinal Glass Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) Storeroom remodel project, providing a roadmap for success and optimizing efficiency.

The Challenge: An Uphill Battle

It is the perfect storm: a frustrated maintenance workforce spends dozens of hours each week searching for spare parts in dimly lit and poorly organized parts rooms, while critical machinery stands idle. Frustrations mount while some of the much-needed parts are not even recorded in the inventory system. Meanwhile, the storeroom staff struggles to locate items to conduct cycle counting, so inventory levels continue to be inaccurate and stock-outs continue to occur.

Meticulous Planning: The Foundation for Success

A lesson underscored during the remodel project was the critical importance of meticulous planning. Cardinal Glass first partnered with a local asset management & reliability consulting firm, Compli, to staff and lead the remodel. Together, we thoroughly assessed the current state of the storeroom, analyzed workflow patterns, and understood operational needs laying the groundwork for a successful remodel.

Our team took the time to define project objectives, establish a clear timeline, and involve stakeholders from the outset to ensure a shared vision and minimize potential roadblocks.  We initially conducted an MRO Best Practices Awareness Workshop to better assess the needs of the site by educating the maintenance and storeroom teams on MRO best practices. We also heard directly from end users on any issues this project could potentially address or resolve.

Phasing Process: Remodeling the House While You’re Living in It

In an endeavor to revamp the maintenance storeroom, the Compli and Cardinal teams unveiled an innovative parts-movement phasing plan. This phasing plan was created due to the new storage solutions needing to be located in the same footprint as the previous open-shelving storage strategy. This new storage solutions approach optimized efficiency and streamlined operations.

The project kicked off with a comprehensive evaluation of existing inventory, followed by the identification of parts as either active, inactive or unsure. Items that were identified as inactive were then removed using one of 10 disposition methods, including donation, selling back to the vendor, and selling or donating to other site workers. Once a good understanding of the remaining parts was achieved, the physical inventory movement process began, and two storage-shipping containers were ordered.

For each section of shelving, the shelves were torn down, moved into the shipping containers, and the parts moved onto them. Eventually, enough space was created for the installment of the new, high-density cabinetry, into which more parts could be moved. This process continued until all previous shelving was disposed of and only new shelving remained.

This phasing process was the backbone of the success of the project and is recommended to be used for any remodel where the new shelving will be installed in the same footprint as the old shelving.

Collaboration and Communication: Fostering Synergy

Effective collaboration and communication were vital throughout the entire project. Compli fostered a holistic approach by engaging cross-functional teams in engineering, IT, maintenance and stores while regular meetings, open dialogue, and transparent communication channels helped align expectations, address concerns and ensure everyone's buy-in — thereby ultimately leading to a more successful outcome.


Streamlining Processes: Simplify for Efficiency

A key lesson learned was the importance of streamlining processes within the storeroom. These potential areas of improvement were identified by conducting an MRO Best Practices Awareness workshop with all stakeholders in the project. This presented the opportunity for end users to discuss any existing issues related to the storeroom setup with the project team and allowed for the sharing of best-practice storeroom processes.
By critically evaluating existing workflows, identifying bottlenecks and eliminating unnecessary steps, the remodel project provided an opportunity to simplify operations. Implementing lean principles, such as 5S methodology, helped create a more organized, efficient and waste-free storeroom environment.

Optimal Space Utilization: Designing for Success

Maximizing space utilization emerged as a crucial lesson from the remodel project. By carefully analyzing storage needs, inventory levels and part dimensions, a well-designed layout was created to optimize storage capacity. The use of high-density cabinetry, new open-storage shelving, a motorized wire carousel and a motorized STAK system for storing motors and gear reducers resulted in enhanced accessibility, minimized search time, and made parts and part selection a more visible and streamlined process.


Additionally, new signage and maps were utilized to create more part visibility for storeroom end users and make the part finding process more efficient.

Long Part Storage: Unique Problems Call for Unique Solutions

Upon initial assessment, our team knew some parts would not fit into the traditional setup of the storeroom and needed a different approach. Many of the parts were too long to fit into the four-foot section of the open shelving. The wire storage shelves were removed, and additional dividers were added that corresponded to each part number that was identified as being too long for normal open shelving.

Correspondingly, parts that could not be stored vertically were placed on cantilever hooks installed along the STAK system. This allowed for the utilization of the space previously occupied by these parts to be better implemented into the remainder of the storeroom.

Training and Knowledge Transfer: Empowering Personnel

An important lesson was the recognition of the need for comprehensive training and knowledge transfer during the remodel project. A training program was created to teach the maintenance team and other end users on the part-finding and part-checkout processes that were implemented in the new storeroom. The updating of the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) in conjunction with the remodel provided an opportunity for hands-on learning.

The transition from a physical parts catalog to the efficient method of searching the CMMS interface allowed for parts to be found by name, number, asset, or other part identifiers. These training programs empowered maintenance personnel with the necessary skills to navigate the new storeroom setup. Clear documentation and ongoing training ensured sustained operational excellence even beyond the project's completion.

Continuous Improvement: An Iterative Journey 

The remodel project reinforced the significance of a culture of continuous improvement. Regular evaluations, feedback loops, and performance metrics allowed for ongoing refinement of processes and identification of further optimization opportunities. Opportunities identified included the implementation of barcoding for part check-out and cycle counting, kitting and staging practices, increased security procedures, and the determination of a standardized naming taxonomy across the storeroom.

Embracing a mindset of continuous improvement ensured that the remodel project was just the beginning of a journey toward sustained excellence.



An MRO storeroom remodel project is not only about physical changes but also about the invaluable lessons learned along the way. From meticulous planning and collaboration to streamlining processes and embracing technology, these lessons can guide future improvement initiatives. By applying these insights, organizations can optimize efficiency, enhance productivity, and create storeroom environments that serve as pillars of operational excellence. 

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About the Author

Kristin Steins is a Project/Validation Engineer with Complii currently working in asset management & reliability. With an educational background in mechanical engineering with a biomedi...

About the Author

Barry Mathia is a Maintenance Superintendent at Cardinal Glass Industries. With a background in industrial systems maintenance, general industrial safety management, Barry possesses mo...