What does MRO stand for?
The term MRO stands for Maintenance Repair and Operations (also referred to as Maintenance Repair and Overhaul). MRO includes everything the maintenance crew does to keep your facility (and the equipment inside it) in good operating condition. In other words, the main goal of MRO is to keep your business operations running smoothly.
We know that you know how important MRO is. But that doesn’t mean everyone in your company understands this. (Did someone say “Finance”?)
Getting your company to take MRO seriously
Picture a run-down factory. The lights are flickering. Loose, frayed wires are hanging about. And there are suspicious puddles of goo under the machinery. Production has been down on your highest selling product for weeks because you haven’t been able to get the budget approved for a crucial repair for one of the machines that produces it. What a bummer.
Now, picture a clean, well-maintained facility. The warehouse is organized neatly and everything is running smoothly. In fact, everything’s been running so smoothly that you’ve had above-average production volume — and the sales numbers to match it! This is the dream.
That’s the difference between a company that neglects MRO and a company that takes it seriously. But it’s only possible when you get the support you need from other departments.
Again, you know this. But how do you get buy-in from the rest of your company?
It’s all about how you tell the story.
In the following sections, we will introduce the concepts behind that story. Then we will show you how to use a CMMS — in this case, Limble — to pull the exact figures for your company to make the argument even more compelling. Armed with that information, you will find departments are more readily on your side.
Benefits of actively managing Maintenance, Repair, and Operations
Companies that prioritize Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul management will have better control over processes that affect their cash flow (at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, right?). This next section is full of useful tips to help you illustrate just how important your work is to overall business success.
Keep disruptions to a minimum
When equipment breaks down suddenly, it costs the company a lot of money. By managing your MRO effectively, you can reduce the frequency of unplanned downtime because you’ll be able to work proactively. You can make sure you’ve got the right parts, equipment, and staff to keep things moving when and where you need them.
Good news for you: You’re the hero! When faced with a problem that stops business in its tracks, it’s you and your team that have the goods to fix it. With a CMMS like Limble, you can back your story up with hard proof. Now you’ve got back to show that 1) your team has been on top of preventive maintenance; 2) that you’ve stocked inventory properly; 3) that they’ve reduced the amount of time it takes to respond to problems; and 4) that they’re solving problems faster than ever. Now, you have the leverage to reframe any situation in your favor.
The script flips from “why isn’t maintenance keeping this running?” to “everything breaks at some point — thank goodness we’ve got a capable maintenance team to take care of it”!
Good news for your company: Business gets to keep moving! Downtime is expensive — like, really expensive. If you can reduce downtime, that means money keeps moving. And that’s precisely what your company leaders want. With a CMMS like Limble, you can set up custom dashboards that generate reports on exactly how much money you’re saving your company by reducing downtime. Send ‘em upstairs weekly, monthly, quarterly, or however often you need to. It won’t take long for Management to notice how effective you and your team are.
Keep your inventory in the sweet spot
Inventory management can be a tricky thing. You don’t want to have too much, and you don’t want to have too little. Ideally, you want to keep your inventory levels just right as much as possible.
Holding too much inventory at one time means wasted money. On the other hand, stockouts can lead to costly downtime — and you never know how long it’ll take to get back up and running again. Either way, it’s expensive. But effective MRO management can help you hit the sweet spot.
Good news for you: Your job gets way more manageable if you’ve got the right supplies on hand at all times. When you’ve got the right stuff, you can make sure things keep running on time. A CMMS like Limble can tell you when parts in your maintenance storeroom are already reserved for other jobs. It will also alert you when stock is low on parts, how many you need to reorder, and from whom. It can even alert you when you get parts back in stock so you can pick up where you left off.
Good news for your company: There are significant cost savings found in properly managed inventory levels. And any time you can save money instead of spending it will make your Finance team happy. If you’ve got the right parts on hand, you can avoid downtime and address maintenance requests right away. Likewise, you can also work toward decreasing stock on items you rarely use. Why spend money on parts you don’t need? In Limble, you can set a “stale threshold” which will let you know when you can retire an inventory part if it hasn’t been used within a specific time frame that you set.
Beat the breakdowns to the punch
This is a big one. Wouldn’t it be nice to follow a predictable schedule of repairs to catch problems before they happen, instead of waiting until after you’ve got a disaster on your hands? Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Maintenance and repairs are inevitable in any industry. However, depending on which maintenance strategy you use, maintenance costs and benefits can vary greatly. No matter the situation, it’s pretty much always better to be ahead of a problem rather than behind it.
Good news for you: Once again, your job is much easier when you can avoid as many problems as possible. When things run as expected, you and your team can be much more effective at your jobs. Inside Limble, you can set up automatically generated tasks, so nothing falls through the cracks. You can even set those tasks to be assigned to specific technicians, so it automatically shows up on their to-do list when it’s time to do the work. And if something changes, you can easily reprioritize or reassign tasks with a simple drag-and-drop.
Good news for your company: There’s more cost savings potential here too. While you can’t expect everything to run perfectly all the time, it’s much better when the company’s only got to repair a critical piece of equipment, rather than having to replace it entirely. With a CMMS, you can track your company’s transition from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance. Limble’s way of doing this is with custom dashboards. You can generate reports that show the number of hours worked on preventive maintenance tasks vs. unplanned tasks and show how breakdowns are declining over time. The perk? You can easily show Management exactly how effective you and your team are at saving them money regularly.
Did we get the point across? Maybe this will move the needle if they still don’t believe you after showing them all the data. Check this out: Peerless Research Group runs an annual MRO survey, and its findings pretty much confirm what we just talked about – 94% of businesses think that MRO is important for their organization.
Peerless Research Group annual MRO survey
(Sorry if you work for one of the 6% of companies who don’t. Good news: There’s a labor shortage, so you can probably find a good job somewhere else.)
The scope of MRO management
Maintenance, repair, and operations activities can be roughly grouped into five categories:
1) Production equipment repair and maintenance
You can’t sell goods without the machinery that creates the end product (we call this MRO inventory or MRO supplies). Over time, wear and tear of production equipment causes malfunctioning, delays, downtime, and other setbacks. These setbacks can hurt both profits and brand reputation in industries that depend a lot on equipment (like manufacturing).
What does Maintenance, Repair, and Operations look like in a manufacturing setting? You’ve got routine maintenance, emergency repairs, inventory control, vendor management, and regularly monitoring the condition of your equipment (with the help of some additional — you guessed it, equipment!).
To minimize breakdowns and delays, more and more businesses are switching from reactive to preventive and may also be implementing predictive maintenance. On top of that, they are combining proactive maintenance strategies with a modern CMMS solution to stay on top of all of their maintenance KPIs. Keep reading to get all the gritty details on how a CMMS can do all the heavy lifting for you.
2) Material handling equipment repair and maintenance
Production can’t start if your materials can’t find their way from the warehouse to the front of the production line. You’ve got the equipment (like a forklift or a pallet positioner) to get it to the right spot at the right time. But if they are broken, you are in trouble. We call these items your material handling equipment; it’s the things that get parts from point A to point B so you can make the goods that your company sells.
Here’s an example. If your conveyor systems and robotics arms are poorly maintained and experience a malfunction, you’ve now got a production line that will indefinitely sit idle waiting for material because there’s a break in your production line process.
Material handling equipment encompasses a range of different machinery. While some of the equipment might not be directly involved in the production, they are still essential elements that ensure a stable production process – and should be treated as such.
3) Managing tools and consumables
What about all the little, day-to-day things that keep equipment running properly? We’re talking tightening screws, greasing up a sticky wheel, and cleaning up sawdust and debris. These tasks, although small and mundane, play a big part in keeping your shop running smoothly.
To make it all happen, you need the right equipment to get the job done. This equipment is referred to as MRO tools and consumables:
- power tools (drills, electric saws, grinders, sanders…)
- hand tools (wrenches, sockets, pliers, cutters, clamps, screwdrivers…)
- consumable items (adhesives, lubricants, sandpaper, welding rods…)
- PPE (masks, safety glasses, gloves, face shields…)
- cleaning supplies
- office supplies
What about the raw materials themselves?
We’re glad you asked! Raw materials and other production items eventually become the end product your company sells by way of the manufacturing process.
When it comes to production items, inventory control is of supreme importance. If you’ve got all the parts, you can assemble them, sell them, ship them, and you’re on your way! However, if you have all the parts except even one of them, production is halted — which means no sales. Bad news for everyone.
This is when it’s handy to have a good relationship with your suppliers.
4) Infrastructure maintenance
Like everything else, building infrastructure needs regular maintenance, too. It won’t matter how well-maintained everything is inside your manufacturing plant if the building is falling apart.
It could look like this: The parking lot needs new asphalt, or your team won’t have anywhere to park. The plumbing needs to be updated so it’s up to code, or no one will have a bathroom to use. The HVAC system should be upgraded to one that’s more energy-efficient, or you’re going to hear about the enormous bill — stuff like that.
But this is where things can start to look a little different, based on how your company wants to handle them. Sometimes, companies have an in-house maintenance team to handle MRO. Other times, companies want to contract out Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul to a third party. There are benefits and drawbacks both ways.
- More control over the maintenance process to avoid unplanned failures
- Better qualified and experienced staff
- MRO strategy is better integrated across systems
- Higher cost savings in repair and maintenance costs over time
- Have to stock MRO inventory yourself, which comes at a cost
- Staffing can be costly and not always targeted to the specific needs of the business or specialized equipment
- More time to focus on primary business functions (and not get bogged down with maintenance jargon)
- Can hire service techs with skills specialized to the maintenance required (instead of a jack-of-all-trades)
- Buying leverage — it’s much easier to make a deal with a service provider or vendor, making this approach very cost-effective.
- You’re not always getting the best talent. MRO service providers won’t always tell you if they can’t do something. So they’ll outsource the job to a provider that often costs more and has less experience.
- Response time can be slow. If you’ve got an emergency, you want it fixed ASAP, but an MRO service provider may not be able to respond right away.
- Redundancy and duplication of efforts. With outsourced MRO, it’s harder to see if you’ve got two guys working on the same thing, which may be unnecessary and costly (a good CMMS will help you avoid running into this, too).
The direction you choose will largely depend on your budget, available staffing, what’s in your leasing agreement, and how much control your company wants over the maintenance process.
The same MRO survey we referenced earlier asked the participants to vote for the benefits of each approach:
Peerless Research Group annual MRO survey
5) Supply chain management and procurement
Your team has many suppliers that get you the parts you need to make the products your company sells — potentially hundreds of thousands of suppliers. Some items are more important (“critical”) than others. And if you find yourself in a pickle, you’ll want to make sure you’ve put some time and energy into building positive relationships with those suppliers.
That’s where a Supplier Relationship Management program comes into play. For example, what happens if your factory runs out of that one specific screw that goes with every product you manufacture? You might be, well — screwed.
Having a good relationship with the supplier who supplies that screw might come in handy to help get your hands on critical parts on short notice if you’ve got orders to fulfill. It’s a “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” kind of deal. Being able to solve problems like this in real-time is an extremely valuable skill for your company.
Part of effective MRO management is making sure that there are no broken links in your supply chain that could stop production. This comes full circle with inventory control and supplier relations: making sure you’ve got the right parts on hand to make your products and that you’ve got a supplier on your side who can help you if you don’t.
The work you do matters
Work performed under maintenance, repair, and operations affects every aspect of the business. It’s easy to take for granted, but you are the ones who keep things moving. As we say at Limble, you’re the unsung heroes whose impact is felt far and wide.
A CMMS will make your department more effective and tell the story to the company about how much value you’re producing. At Limble, we want to help make your life easier and help you tell a story that gets the company on your side. Learn more about Limble by setting up a demo or getting started with a free trial.