Organizing Your MRO Storeroom: How AI Beats Manual Inspection Every Time

robot arms picking up boxes
Photo By Blue Planet Studio

Managing your spare parts  inventory can make or break an MRO strategy

Companies should have consistent insight into maintenance, repairs, and operations (MRO) inventory needs and existing stock levels to help forecast upstream needs and keep operations running smoothly. 

However, employing manual practices and traditional methodologies to manage your storeroom may sacrifice essential gains in efficiency, accuracy, and strategic decision-making. Keeping these elements of your business consistent could make all the difference in an increasingly competitive global market. 

Today, it’s an absolute necessity for businesses to adopt emerging technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), to stay ahead of the curve. Here’s how new tech can help you organize your storeroom.

MRO storeroom management: keep numbers accurate

Micro and macro level stock numbers 

MRO storerooms are rife with inefficiencies thanks to slow, manual systems that result in fragmented, siloed data across multiple departments. This lack of transparency can translate to a disintegrated supply chain that isn’t flexible enough to respond to external events that impact inventory-related decisions.

Sometimes, these systems are manually managed with paper and pencil methods or using manually created spreadsheets. This can lead to inconsistencies in data collection processes across sites. Not only does this make manual inspection that much more difficult, but businesses also open themselves to human error and performance limitations, which means more time and resources are spent on chasing exceptions and correcting mistakes. 

All this can be avoided by making the digital leap with artificial intelligence. The right SaaS solution will give you a unified view of real-time inventory data across multiple departments, locations, and sub-units. This can help reduce operational costs and increase resilience in your supply chain.

For starters, managers know which material is lying where, by how much, and for how many days in real-time. This makes restocking an informed practice that cuts costs, avoids shipping delays, and prevents downtime due to a lack of preparedness.

Predictive analysis based on real data 

One of the most challenging aspects of supply planning is forecasting production demand. Organizations using traditional pen and paper-based methods to manage MRO inventory levels often make the mistake of under or overestimating part usage, which can have devastating consequences. 

An AI-based solution analyzes historical data such as past purchases, supplier performance, part utilization, external factors affecting lead times, and seasonal trends to make predictions with a high degree of accuracy. 

By leveraging the power of predictive analysis, AI offers you objective, actionable insights without simply relying on subjective speculations and estimated guesswork. 

For instance, manufacturing plants rely heavily on specific maintenance parts for production requirements in different facilities. If the necessary parts aren’t readily available, then this could result in unplanned production downtime that hinders business operations. 

By utilizing powerful algorithms that detect part identification anomalies and usage patterns, future catastrophes can be prevented. These components can be ordered well ahead of time thus minimizing the chances of production downtime that occurs. 

Keep KPIs consistent 

Your MRO storeroom is more than what meets the eye. 

It’s a critical need with many moving parts, each of which is interconnected with one another. A small misstep early down the line can ripple through the rest of operations and result in preventable disasters.

Managing multiple tiers of your MRO, tracking inventory, monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and coordinating the next steps for optimization can be overwhelming for any plant manager. Transitioning to an automated system not only streamlines your supply chain processes with little to no manual intervention, but you also see immediate savings through massive gains in efficiency and accuracy.

An automated system keeps action items consistent across all sites, ensuring that all levels of an operation are working towards the same goal. Furthermore, since documents no longer need to be manually collected, reviewed, and stored, automated systems make data management an easily accessible and effortlessly aggregated process.  

Since employees no longer have to devote their time to low-order, menial, and monotonous tasks, you can delegate their human intelligence to more strategic operations that aren’t managed by AI. 

Make optimization an ongoing process

Concrete long-term goals require adaptable short-term solutions

When it comes to MRO optimization, you can’t just put it on autopilot The supply ecosystem rarely stays the same—demands change, disruptive events occur, and terms and conditions of contracts can shift each year. 

Your MRO optimization strategies should be dynamic and flexible enough to adapt to these changes. 

The supply chain is a complex interconnected system. No matter where you change out or move a link, the entire chain will shift. Even small disruptions cause a ripple effect in production. 

Ongoing monitoring is vital to sustaining improvements so that you can proactively identify root causes for deviations in plans that slow your operations roll. 

For instance, updating machinery requires changes in how you track and prioritize maintenance action items. However, this doesn’t mean production or maintenance should come to a standstill, which could end up happening if you need to overhaul your reporting strategies or pivot because those changes aren’t true site by site.

Since organizations can’t improve what they don’t measure, establishing KPIs provides visibility into performance on service levels such as safety stock investment, ordering costs, and total excess inventory value. Harnessing the power of AI is the most painless way to keep your performance from plateauing. And, it makes it easy to automatically and accurately measure growth metrics. 

Furthermore, since AI optimizes on a granular level, your goals can be consistently worked towards on an organizational level. This yields improved efficiency, increased productivity, and a healthier, more resilient MRO storeroom. 

Make scaling up easy 

If your organization aims to grow, it will likely develop a network of sites that have their own storerooms. Mergers and acquisitions are exciting news for any business, but they can pose significant management and optimization challenges.

Usually, these challenges take the shape of new records-keeping strategies, implementing procurement strategies with new local vendors, or transferring existing practices to operations of a different size. 

Investing in the right material management software can harmonize data across the entire supply chain, giving you the luxury of organizing and optimizing each sister facility into a defined supply network. This is commonly referred to as establishing a “network effect.

Regardless of how many departments, systems of records, or management strategies your organization uses, you can fine-tune your entire organization’s material inventory in a single, easy-to-use AI and machine learning platform

This can be achieved by adopting a solution which facilitates an organization’s ability to always have the right part, in the right place, at the right time by offering real-time visibility across your entire supply chain. 

Adopting this practice makes scaling that much easier. Since you know where and why capital is flowing out of the company, you can minimize rogue spending and keep costs low. 

A broad overview of procurement processes makes it easy for managers to identify pain points in your MRO storerooms. AI makes it easy to gather metrics and action items for MRO strategies on a site-by-site and organizational basis. 

Achieve Material Truth with your MRO strategy 

Given the challenges and complexities of an increasingly competitive global market, employing traditional methodologies and manpower is simply not enough to stay ahead of the game. 

Integrating an AI-based solution into your MRO procurement strategy will equip your organization with the tools necessary to elevate your optimization strategies. 

Not only will your organization be able to reach your procurement goals, but leveraging modern technology in the right way can yield greater process efficiency and build an MRO storeroom that’s agile, resilient, and reliable enough to take on the challenges of a dynamic data-driven marketplace.

The intelligence may be artificial—but the positive human outcomes are real. 

To learn more about organizing your MRO storeroom with a materials management intelligence platform, download the ebook on overcoming MRO challenges today.

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