What is parts management software?

Parts management software, also known as inventory management software, is used by maintenance departments to purchase, organize, track, and manage MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) inventory and spare parts at their facility.

Parts management software features

While there are dozens of features of parts management software, most can be distilled into these primary ones:

  • Multi-site parts inventory management: Maintenance teams are able to view spare parts inventory levels across multiple facilities. This makes it easy to track inventory across sites so you can share parts between them.
  • Parts forecasting: Machine learning tools analyze real-time and historical inventory data and parts consumption to accurately predict what inventory level is needed for future maintenance work. Purchasing recommendations may be provided as well.
  • Purchasing and RFQs: Parts management software is able to send everything from an RFQs to an RFP or a purchase order directly to suppliers. This can be done manually or can be configured to send when certain conditions are met, like if stocks are running low.
  • Parts usage: Inventory managers can use inventory management software to add parts to digital work orders. When a technician completes this work order, the parts are automatically consumed in the system, allowing companies to easily track how many parts are used, where they were used, and the total inventory cost. Technicians can also use the software to view a bill of materials, find parts in the storeroom, and check them out by scanning QR codes or barcodes.

What parts can be managed with an inventory management system?

There are four categories of inventory that parts management software can help maintenance teams manage:

  1. Spares and replacement parts: These are components that are frequently replaced or repaired on equipment like fans, bearings, and motors
  2. Consumables: These are smaller parts that are often parts of larger machine components, like nuts, bolts or nails, but can also be personal protective equipment like earplugs
  3. Rotating parts or non-fixed assets: These are larger parts that are swapped out on a regular basis, like pumps, or fleet vehicles like mowers or forklifts
  4. Materials and tools: These are instruments used in maintenance, like lubrication, wrenches, and welding torches

How maintenance teams can use parts management software

Maintenance teams can benefit from parts management software in the following ways:

Decreased inventory costs

Because inventory usage can be more accurately tracked and predicted, there is less money wasted on overstocked parts and excess inventory. Slow-moving inventory can be drastically reduced in favor of more commonly used inventory. Asset downtime is now more likely to be kept to a minimum since stocks of critical components can be maintained or ordered well in advance of the predicted maintenance date.

Inventory is easier to find

Parts information can easily be stored in the software’s database along with other information like stock levels of a spare part, the asset it’s associated with, and recommended use. Workers can then reference this information to easily find the component before they go out on a job. This can make preventive maintenance more efficient by reducing the mean time to repair since technicians no longer have to comb through the entire stockroom looking for the right part that may not even be in stock anymore.

Faster and more reliable cycle counts

Unlike manual inventory counts, which are labor intensive and error-prone, cycle counts done with the assistance of parts management software are more accurate, and discrepancies are resolved more quickly. Counts can even be updated every time parts are used to fulfill a work order. Correct cycle counts are crucial for inventory accuracy, which can impact everything from maintenance response times to health and safety.

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Examples of parts management software

MRO inventory software

MRO inventory software is a specialized software that tracks all the consumables, components, and parts necessary to keep a facility’s assets up and running. This can also include goods like uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE). MRO inventory software helps manage and monitor stock levels by providing an item usage history and can optimize order levels to prevent stockouts.

While this software has a comprehensive feature set when it comes to managing a storeroom, it does not include many of the other capabilities that maintenance teams require, like work order management.

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)

A CMMS is an all-in-one maintenance management platform. In addition to managing the usage of parts, it can also manage other aspects of a maintenance department’s operations, like work orders, performance tracking, technician schedules, and more.

In the area of spare parts inventory management, a CMMS allows inventory managers to build parts lists and bills of materials and attach them to digital work orders so parts costs and consumption can be tracked. It also allows them to automatically send purchase orders when spare parts run low and to run reports on inventory across multiple locations.

Enterprise asset management (EAM)

An enterprise asset management platform takes a more high-level approach to inventory control. Instead of focusing on individual parts and components, it instead oversees the lifecycle of assets within the facility. An EAM records the entire history of an asset, from design to installation and to any maintenance jobs done on it within its lifetime. While inventory tracking is part of this, it is a small part is suited to be a more comprehensive (and costly) asset tracking system.

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