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Conveyor spare parts

Your Guide to Critical Spare Parts

Greg Ward | 26 May 2017

Have you ever driven down the highway and noticed someone standing along the roadside next to their automobile, waiting for road service? You glance down and see they have a flat tire and NO SPARE! What has this down time cost them?

  • A missed flight
  • The big presentation in front of a customer
  • Most importantly, time and money

That seems to be the way this world operates today; keep costs down by not having spare parts on hand. Who needs that stuff sitting on a shelf collecting dust? What if you could work for a company that understands the importance of keeping the operation going? Let's examine the options.

At What Cost?

There are typically two frames of mind when it comes to spare parts for material handling equipment.

  1. Keeping spare parts on hand steals money that could have been used elsewhere.
  2. Waiting to order them as needed means outrageous freight cost to overnight the parts, adding up to lost money over time, especially on an older system or machinery. It could also mean unnecessary downtime.

What if there was a balance between the two?

Keeping Critical Spare Parts on Hand

Depending on the size and complexity of your material handling system, you could have the potential for a large spare parts inventory. However, you do not have to keep every part on hand. To define a critical spare parts list, consider the following:

  1. How quickly do you need to get the equipment repaired? Do you need it immediately, within a few hours, or within a few days? If it's immediately or even hours, then the part is likely a good candidate for your critical spare parts list.
  2. Will your operation be halted or severely impaired if the part is not available? If a broken part completely stops your operation or severely limits production, then it's a good plan to keep that part on hand if it's not readily available at a local distributor.
  3. How long is the part's lead time? If the part will take weeks to receive after initial order, then you might consider keeping it stocked. However, keep in mind the importance of the part. If it's not something that would need repaired immediately or hinder your operation, the lead time is not a critical factor.

If you don't have a new system, take a look at your historical data. What parts do you purchase most often? If you do have a new material handling system, a good rule of thumb is to invest anywhere from 1-10% of your total system budget on a critical spare parts inventory.

Helpful Hints

  1. Know your system and understand what back up plans are available should something breakdown. If a line goes down, can you add man power? Can you re-route your product? Could you possibly have enough inventory for a few hours? These options might get you through until the replacement part is received.
  2. When designing a system or choosing the type of equipment to be used, can you order material with commonalities?
    • Example: Try to use as many of the same motors as you can. Even if 1/2 HP motors work in some cases but most in your system are 1 HP motors, use the 1 HP and keep it stocked in your critical spare parts inventory.
  3. Can a part be sent out for repair and get returned before a new (long lead) item can get in?

Determining a critical spare parts inventory for your material handling system can be tricky, so please contact us with any questions. Our team can help you evaluate your system and make general maintenance recommendations to best support your operation.

Learn more about our preventative maintenance services.

Author: Greg Ward


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