A Guide to Maintenance Inventory Software

Effective inventory management is absolutely critical to the work of maintenance and facility management professionals. Your maintenance team relies on the immediate availability of tools, spare parts and raw materials to ensure the upkeep of your organization’s physical assets. And today, more companies than ever before are using maintenance inventory software to ensure their maintenance teams have everything they need on hand

Why is maintenance inventory software important?

Imagine, for a moment, that your maintenance team must operate without access to this increasingly powerful set of software-based solutions. Your manual inventory strategy is vulnerable to human error and prone to order lag times. One of your critical assets suddenly malfunctions. Operations grind to a halt as your team begins a frantic search for the proper spare parts to continue their maintenance work

Unfortunately, outdated stock levels, data errors, and gaps in your ability to track inventory have made it difficult to locate the parts your team needs. Equipment downtime is prolonged, production is delayed, and inventory costs escalate as you expedite the delivery of the missing parts. Your maintenance team faces added pressure to complete repairs, your production team misses delivery deadlines, and your company’s reputation suffers as a result. 

This type of cascading chaos drives home the importance of taking a strategic, data-driven approach to inventory maintenance. The scenario described above also highlights the importance of supplementing your facility maintenance strategy with robust maintenance management software.

Inventory maintenance challenges

Before we highlight the key features to look for in a maintenance inventory software platform, let’s consider some of the common inventory challenges your maintenance team is likely to face. 

  • Optimizing inventory levels: The biggest inventory maintenance challenge that your maintenance team likely faces is the optimization of stock levels. Balancing stock levels is essential to preventing stockouts as well as preventing excessive overstocking, which can tie up capital and increase waste. 
  • Ensuring data accuracy: Manual inventory tracking methods are prone to human error, outdated information, and lag times, which can lead to misleading and costly discrepancies between physical stock and recorded inventory levels
  • Streamlining procurement processes: Organizations that lack well-managed procurement workflows, relationships with reliable vendors, or timely delivery patterns may face difficulties sourcing quality materials and negotiating competitive prices.
  • Achieving regulatory compliance: Your organization’s ability to remain compliant with industry regulations and safety standards will depend on timely repairs and preventive maintenance strategies, both of which hinge on the reliability of your maintenance inventory system.

Your organization can better manage these challenges by leveraging advanced maintenance inventory software features such as barcode inventory tracking, predictive analytics, and streamlined procurement workflows.

What is maintenance inventory software

Some maintenance inventory systems may be available as standalone software-based solutions. But more often than not, your maintenance inventory software will be included as part of a larger business operations platform. Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of these operations platforms and their key functionalities.

  • Inventory Management Systems (IMS) focus primarily on inventory tracking and optimization. IMS solutions enable organizations to maintain accurate records of inventory levels, track stock movements, and generate reports on usage and replenishment needs. IMS solutions often include features such as barcode scanning, stock alerts, and customizable inventory categories.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are a popular option for larger organizations that can sustain the high cost of implementation. ERPs will typically integrate inventory management functions with other important areas of operation including financial forecasting, manufacturing timelines, and supply chain management.  
  • Supply Chain Management (SCM) software typically includes inventory control features alongside broader inventory management functionalities such as procurement, logistics, and supplier relationship management. SCM systems can help streamline inventory management in direct coordination with other aspects of your business operation.
  • Asset management software integrates inventory management software functionalities with your organization’s program for maintaining physical assets, and therefore closely correlates the tracking and management of spare parts, supplies, and tools with preventive maintenance scheduling.
  • Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) provide the most comprehensive set of solutions for inventory management and, more broadly, for maintenance management. CMMS software typically includes features such as tracking of inventory levels, automation of the procurement processes, work order management, preventive maintenance scheduling, asset tracking, and data-driven reporting

Because they combine the functionalities of maintenance inventory software with broader maintenance program functionalities, CMMS platforms tend to be the preferred solution for maintenance professionals. In the section below, we’ll explore how the holistic nature of a robust CMMS platform can streamline your inventory management strategy.

CMMS platforms and maintenance inventory management

The real value in a robust CMMS platform is its capacity for functional integration. Your CMMS software should include advanced inventory management features. Moreover, these features should work in close concert with your organization’s maintenance program to ensure timely and effective upkeep of your machinery, equipment, and facilities.  

Below, we identify some of the key maintenance inventory management features that you should look for in a CMMS platform:

Enhanced inventory organization

Your maintenance inventory software should effectively streamline actions like tracking, monitoring, moving, and replenishing items within your facility. Look for a CMMS that provides optimal organization of inventory through the following features:

  • Barcode system for easy determination of spare part stock levels and location 
  • Instant push and email notifications indicating low stock, or the receipt of new parts
  • Accurate, real-time updates on inventory status
  • Downtime reporting on physical assets using metrics like MTBF and MTTR
  • Advanced analytics on optimal stock levels based on asset performance and maintenance schedules

Advanced inventory tracking, reporting, and forecasting

Prioritize a CMMS platform that allows you to track your inventory and its utilization across your maintenance workflow–from procurement and production to final product delivery or overstock liquidation. Seek a solution that includes the following features:

  • Real-time reporting on parts used and associated costs
  • Work order management including automatic parts usage tracking
  • Usage and inventory forecasting for optimal stock levels and more accurate future ordering
  • Tracking of unused parts, overstock, and materials at risk of expiration or spoilage
  • Automated minimum threshold-based reorder scheduling

Aligned inventory purchasing and asset management

Look for a CMMS platform that effectively aligns your flow of inventory with the actual needs of your maintenance team. Seek out a solution that includes the following features for better organizational alignment:

  • Minimum stock reorder thresholds calculated based on organizational needs
  • Custom purchasing workflows to streamline your approval process and automatically send POs to vendors
  • Real time communication between departments and across facilities
  • Customized, user-friendly dashboards and mobile CMMS app functionality allowing for multi-location tools and reporting
  • Proven security and user authentication using advanced controls and Single-sign On (SSO)

Your CMMS platform should include these advanced inventory management features. As we’ll explore in the section below, these features can help to streamline your maintenance workflows, optimize inventory levels, and ensure the availability of critical spare parts

Benefits of maintenance inventory software

An effective preventive maintenance strategy depends on a reliable maintenance inventory program. This is why so many organizations turn to CMMS platforms for their inventory needs. CMMS tools like Limble extend well beyond inventory management, playing a crucial role in supporting effective maintenance programs as a whole. 

Below, we explore the role that CMMS tools can play not just in streamlining maintenance inventory management but also making preventive maintenance programs possible.

Improved inventory accuracy and visibility

CMMS platforms like Limble’s provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, locations, and usage history. This makes it easy for maintenance professionals to track the movement of spare parts, quickly locate items held in the storeroom, and intervene to prevent stockouts.

Streamlined procurement processes

Your CMMS platform should include tools to automate various aspects of procurement from generating purchase orders and communicating with vendors to tracking invoices and triggering reorders. These features make it possible to anticipate stock needs and lead times, and replenish spare parts or raw materials accordingly.

Optimized inventory levels

Top CMMS platforms leverage historical usage data, current market trends, and preventive maintenance schedules to forecast needs, and optimize inventory levels. Optimal inventory levels may not only prevent stockouts but can also prevent excessive overstock and consequently reduce carrying costs.

Preventive maintenance scheduling and planning

CMMS platforms like Limble’s are built on close coordination between maintenance inventory functions and preventive maintenance scheduling. This allows for organizations to schedule inspections and audits, engage in routine service, and complete component replacements based on current performance data and equipment usage rates. Top CMMS platforms may also back this scheduling with automated alerts notifying maintenance personnel both of emergent maintenance needs and upcoming preventive maintenance tasks

Increased asset reliability and uptime

Coordinating your preventive maintenance strategy with an optimized inventory management strategy allows your maintenance team to conduct maintenance tasks before equipment malfunctions or fails. The right CMMS platform should help your organization to minimize unplanned downtime, optimize asset performance, and maximize productivity, all of which will also lower maintenance costs and improve the lifespan of your physical assets.

Improved regulatory and safety compliance

Your CMMS platform should also provide a streamlined way to both achieve and document compliance with regulatory conditions, industry standards, and safety requirements. Improved preventive maintenance reduces the risk of both safety hazards and penalties for noncompliance, and a robust CMMS platform can supply the maintenance records, inspection logs, and documentation trail required to back it up. 

More inventory management best practices

In addition to implementing the right tools, building an effective maintenance inventory system requires a few foundational steps. Below, we outline a number of inventory management best practices that your organization can implement to ensure your inventory management strategy lives up to its fullest potential.

  • Conduct an ABC Analysis, categorizing inventory items based on their importance and value to the organization and prioritizing your resources accordingly.
  • Leverage historical usage data, maintenance schedules, and equipment lifecycle information as well as factors like seasonal fluctuations, equipment failure rates, and planned maintenance activities to forecast future demand.
  • Cultivate strong vendor relationships in order to ensure timely supply of maintenance inventory items and to negotiate favorable pricing
  • Implement lifecycle management practices to assess the lifecycle stage of inventory items and make informed decisions regarding replenishment, repair, or disposal.
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging feedback on the organization’s inventory management practices from frontline employees and stakeholders

As you implement or update your inventory management system, be mindful of these best practices. The right combination of tools and strategic measures can enhance more than just your ability to optimize inventory levels. This approach can dramatically improve the overall effectiveness of your maintenance operations and help to maximize your organization’s productivity. 

On-demand webinar: managing your spare parts inventory

To learn more about optimizing your maintenance inventory system and access valuable insights on maximizing the potential of your spare parts inventory strategy, check out our free webinar on inventory management today!

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