Modern spare parts management

Over the last months we have started to review our processes and optimise them where possible. Particular attention is dedicated to spare parts management.

The aim that guides our efforts is clear: “We want to have the right spare parts available in the right quantity at the right time”, says Jürgen Duschner, Head of Procurement & Logistics. As easy as this may sound, the implementation is a complex matter. There are many factors at play, and their requirements need to be co-ordinated as perfectly as possible.

Inventory analysis

We started with taking an accurate inventory of our stock levels and analysing them. The purpose was to gain a comprehensive and accurate overview of the spare parts in stock and to learn lessons for future strategies in this area.

The picture that presented itself was varied. We were able to identify a number of slow movers, i.e. parts that had been stored for many years but for which there was no longer a demand. We sold these off or returned them to our suppliers. For other parts we realised that they were no longer usable, e.g. due to the rubber having become brittle. These parts were discarded.

We also paid special attention to avoiding duplicated storekeeping of spare parts. There should only be one clearly defined space for each spare part, and that should be where the part is needed most or where it is most easily accessible.

Furthermore, we replaced some spare parts with up-to-date alternatives and reviewed the safety stock. Depending on the result, the latter was increased or reduced, as required. This is nothing unusual: technological development progresses and so changes the requirements for spare parts.

Last but not least, we introduced spare parts in our range that we have not had in stock previously but for which there is an increase in demand. The aim here, too, is to ensure as short delivery times as possible.

Assessment of spare parts requirement

In an ideal-case scenario, each spare part required by a customer should be available precisely when the customer needs it – and in the required quantity.

Bearing in mind that we have over 13,000 different parts stocked in our Munich warehouse, this ideal-case scenario is difficult to achieve in practice. However, in order to get to this ideal as closely as possible, our staff are continuously analysing our customers’ spare parts requirements.

The figures are then compared with previous years, resulting in a realistic estimate, based on experience, of the typical annual requirement for each spare part. We not only carry out this analysis for particular spare parts but for each one, i.e. more than 13,000 times a year.

Availability and economic efficiency

Like any other company, Deutsche Plasser always strives to be as economically efficient as possible. Not only does this benefit us but also our customers. Therefore, a specific target for our procurement department is to ensure economically efficient warehousing.

This target results in quantities being specified for each spare part, taking into consideration the requirement assessment mentioned above. If, for instance, of a type of pump no more than three per year are required by customers over a period of several years, it makes business and logistical sense to have no more than three pumps in stock at one time.

Unexpected high demand

Despite careful planning it may happen occasionally that there is a sharp, sudden and unexpected increase in demand for a specific spare part. To come back to the pumps from the example above: we have had situations where more than three of these pumps were ordered at short notice. As we had only three in stock – based on our considerations – there were delays in delivery, also due to the fact that we depend to a certain extent on our suppliers and their lead times.

New machine, new spare parts

As mentioned above, technological progress changes the demands on warehousing; but new machines, too, involve many new spare parts. Particularly machines that have not been deployed in our market previously will sometimes require completely different spare parts from the ones we keep in stock. In order to guarantee the operation and availability of these new machines, we will have to respond and adjust our stock levels accordingly.

More information

Spare parts management thus poses very complex challenges. The members of staff in charge have to try and find the best solutions, taking into consideration the requirements of customers and suppliers, as well as internal contacts, such as our sales department and the Leverkusen-Opladen maintenance workshop.

The processes already work well with our internal partners. They make an essential contribution to the success of our spare parts management.

With regard to the external business partners, Jürgen Duschner has a clear vision of what is most helpful for his department and therefore also for our customers: “It’s simple – information. The earlier and more accurately we know about the maintenance schedules of our customers, the better we can prepare and ensure that the right parts are available at the right time.” We are currently reviewing the relevant processes and will adapt them, if necessary.

24/7 service

For customers who want additional safeguards we offer a powerful solution: our 24/7 service offering. In close co-operation with our customers we develop an individual service offering that can also incorporate the supply of spare parts. The better we know about operational planning and the intended servicing measures, the easier it is for us to stock up on the appropriate spare parts in good time – exclusively for a specific customer.

Predictive Maintenance

There is also a great potential for spare parts management in predictive maintenance. The more data can be collected and analysed on certain machines, the better we can assess the typical service life of a spare part. Combined with close sharing of information with customers and suppliers this will help us make ever more accurate predictions about our stock-keeping requirements and thus get even closer to our goal: availability of the right spare parts in the right quantity at the right time.

Find out more about our original spare parts and original wear parts.