Making Our Effective Storeroom Efficient
The Foundational Steps Necessary to Move from Effective to Efficient
The role of the Stores Stock Committee becomes intrinsically clearer as this oversight body helps to guide the storeroom organization from effective to efficient. Much of the detail in last month’s blog concerning the formation, training, and chartering of this leadership group was intended to set the course for future growth. Up until this point, those processes and procedures established in the effective foundational, and intermediate levels are those commonly practiced by a majority of today’s storerooms. Going forward, discussions will center on elevating our game to another level.
Effective storerooms are capable of providing service and convenience. Clearly, a storeroom can’t stock everything, but with minor interruption, an effective storeroom generally has what it has been asked to stock, and does a reasonably good job of satisfying the MRO needs of a maintenance organization.
An efficient storeroom, on the other hand, is a significant contributor to the over-arching strategy of the maintenance unit, and is forward thinking, and proactive in the execution of its duties. The fundamental objective is to increase the efficiency of the reliability effort of the plant-not just maintenance.
The roadmap for the Efficient-Foundational level looks like this:
Figure 1: Foundation-Efficient
The Stores Stock Committee (SSC) will not be discussed further in this blog; the reader is referred to April’s edition where the SSC was defined and discussed in depth.
Aside from the SSC, this roadmap section only contains the tactical process of Kitting and the strategic practice of Data Scrubbing.
The concept of ‘kitting’ is not just confined to maintenance and storerooms. The concept of prepackaging for efficiency and convenience is time saving, price saving, and pragmatic even in a civilian setting.
Figure2: Kitting in the Community-Heinz puts it together
Kitting in the maintenance-storeroom sense is meant to eliminate or at least to reduce one of the major forms of waste in a reliability effort; searching for and/or obtaining the necessary parts for planned maintenance repair.
Of significant note is the point that kits are developed for planned maintenance activities. The parts to be assembled in the kit are listed, by the maintenance planner, on a pick-list. Stores uses this list to identify the type and quantity of part needed. The parts are picked and placed in an appropriate carrying device (bin, bag, or pallet) and relocated to a kitted parts area. The bin, bag, or pallet should be shelved with the work order number annotated on the container.
There are several competing thoughts on what is going to be mentioned next, neither has more merit over the other: they are all mentioned here for further debate, discussion, and decisions at the local level.
Primarily, the three debatable topics are:
- When do you kit the parts?
- When do you issue the kits?
- What do you do with direct order parts?
When do you kit the parts? The two schools of thought on this topic include kitting the part as soon as the planner develops the pick-list as part of the process of building the job plan; or kitting the parts once the job is committed to the weekly schedule.
Kitting the parts as soon as the planner develops the pick-list is certainly ideal for ‘grabbing’ the available part and having it securely in a kit, ready for a future job. As it is very likely that a planned job will take some time to get on the schedule for execution, it is also likely that the kit will be raided for parts, as is necessary, to complete emergency, unplanned work. It is also very likely that there will be some confusion as to when to order the replacement part for stores. After all, is a kitted part an issued part? When is it subtracted from inventory?
Kitting a part, or parts, when the job plan is being created could also lead to forgotten storage. This phenomenon occurs when technicians don’t realize that there is an available kit, and they withdraw the parts from stores, as normal, leaving the pre-kitted parts for the very same work order sitting on a shelf. Those kits can remain there for some time before someone notices that they are no longer needed, as the job has been completed.
Kitting parts only after the job has been committed to the weekly schedule could put the storeroom in a bind as some lead times could be longer than the time available. This is noteworthy for items that were present in stock when the soft-reserve was made through the planning process, but due to other demands, the part no longer physically exists for kitting when the time comes to pre-package the part.
Kitting after scheduling does, however, help to ward off the forgotten storage issue.
Ultimately, the Stores Stock Committee will be the final deciders on how to handle parts kitting. The main goal is to increase the efficiency of the maintenance workforce by eliminating a source for waste.
The second debatable point is when to issue kits. This point is meant to ponder the issue of “do items put in the kit get issued out of stores at the moment they are placed in the kit, or when the kit itself is issued”?
Parts that remain in the jurisdiction of the storeroom even as they sit in the kit, on the kit shelf, are subject to cycle counting as they appear on the inventory. It is very important to perfect the process of bin transfers, to show that 1 part is still on the shelf, and another is located in a kit, on the kit shelf (for example).
Parts that are effectively ‘issued’ out when removed from stores’ shelves and placed into a kit, might lead to budget-busting as a result of kitting a lot of jobs that won’t be executed for some time to come.
There are pros and cons with each, the Stores Stock Committee will be pressed into service to sort out the particulars on this matter as well.
The final debatable point is what to do with items that are direct ordered and not kept in stock. It is very common to see amnesty zones established in a storeroom that contains many parts ordered by maintenance supervision (and others) with ‘red’ rush tags on them, and they have a collective layer of time-telling dust. This is a very inefficient process.
What has been shown to work better is to have parts ordered direct to be received in and put directly into a job kit. The presumption is that all parts are ordered against a work order, and thus would normally require a job kit. It would make sense to receive it in against that kit and avoid the amnesty zone altogether.
Data scrubbing is a strategic practice to confirm that the information contained in the Item Master for the stocked item is correct, relevant, complete, and up to date. Item Masters vary from CMMS to CMMS, but usually the information contained within is typical and would take on the form of requiring some specific data:
- Identification number for each item
- Description of item using NAICS format
- Manufacturer’s name & number
- Primary supplier & supplier number
- Unit cost
- Unit of measure
- ABC Classification
- Ordering information—order point, order quantity, lead time
- Quantity on hand
- “Where Used”
It is highly regarded as necessary that some conventional naming scheme be employed to develop the noun, type and attributes such as UNSPSC (United Nations Standard Products & Service Code) where the description of the part meets the standard format.
Noun, Attribute, Specifications, Further Detail
Example: Bushing: Dodge Taper-Locking, 2517, 2 3/16
To ensure that the data is correct and up to date, the Stores Stock Committee should commission a small team, twice a year, to audit the Item Master data by randomly selecting 1% of the stocked items (for a conservative audit practice). This audit will confirm that the practices in place meant to keep the Item Master information correct, are in fact working. If the audit bears negative results, corrections should be made, up to and including a larger or full scale data scrubbing effort.
Data scrubbing is also meant to increase the available information we have readily available about our stocked components, in a sense to make sure the data is complete.
For example, a 1A fuse might previously be listed as:
Item Number=FNQ-R-1 Manufacturer=BUSS
Manufacturer Part #=Description=FUSE 1 AMP
After the enhancing created by data scrubbing:
Manufacturer Part #=FNQ-R-1
Description=FUSE, 1A, 600V, TIME DELAY CURRENT LIMITING, CLASS CC,
TRON, MELAMINE TUBE, 13/32" X 1-1/2“
Amperage=1A Voltage=600V Type=TIME DELAY CURRENT LIMITING
class="CLASS" CC Trade Name=TRON Cartridge=MELAMINE TUBE
Size=13/32" X 1- 1/2"UNSPSC=39121604
The additional detail available through the use of more attribute fields often leads to recognizing duplicate parts, and obsolete materials. It is not unusual to identify a 10% reduction in costs and line items through a solid data scrubbing effort.
Clearly, the kitting process and the data scrubbing practice are activities on another level from previous discussions. For next month’s blog we’ll continue to explore the actions that make the storeroom more efficient.
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Maintenance organizations need the right material, in the proper quantity, at the right time. If these basic conditions are not met, your maintenance effort will be ineffective. In this era of downsized industrial operations, careless material accountability is not an option. Companies typically have several hundred to several million dollars worth of parts in a maintenance storeroom, "just in case". This is clearly a very costly practice.