More and more people who aren’t supply chain professionals are suddenly aware that supply chains are complex systems that comprise multiple interlinked processes, and a single wrong decision can create ripples along the entire supply network.
Fortunately, advancements in technology have allowed businesses to employ digital tools such as the natural language processing of artificial intelligence and data science of machine learning to establish purpose-built decision support solutions.
This article aims to explore 4 ways leveraging these tools can improve your MRO inventory management and procurement strategy.
1. Maintain accurate MRO stock levels to reduce risk while eliminating wasted working capital
The primary goal of inventory management is to maintain enough stock levels to satisfy customer needs while minimizing excess stock on hand. However, most organizations don’t apply this goal to their MRO materials, which often make up a significant portion of their manufacturing spend.
The right decision support system software can analyze large data sets and use historical data such as purchase and usage history, supplier lead times, vendor performance, and item lifecycle to yield valuable insights about MRO stock levels to a high degree of accuracy.
For instance, advanced data science methodology can tell you when maintenance and repairs need to occur, what items are overstocked, usage metrics surrounding those materials, and when you should buy them to ensure production outages don’t occur. This way, you can hold optimal stock levels in your inventory, significantly reducing the risk of any out-of-stock or overstock situations while simultaneously reducing wasted working capital.
2. M&A data harmonization
Years, if not decades, of merger and acquisition activity have left global enterprises with multiple ERP instances and data methodologies that simply don’t provide a clear picture of what materials are on hand across their manufacturing sites. This disparity in labeling and tracking leads to inconsistent management and rogue spending for critical spare parts needed to keep production lines running.
The additional ERP instances and enterprise solutions that come along with activities result in additional data silos, especially as many systems still remain on-premise. Even as organizations migrate their systems to the cloud, gaining true visibility across departments is a challenge.
Since it’s common for different manufacturing units to manage their own MRO materials supply, it’s easy for an organization to have duplicate materials spread across the network, and even within a single facility.
Even if a company uses inventory management software to track and monitor supply levels, changes in suppliers or model numbers make it difficult to realize where duplicates or shortages may exist. Having a purpose-built solution to provide statistical analysis as to material usage, supplier lead times, safety stock levels, and capital value through machine learning algorithms helps shed light on where you have exposure to risk or wasted capital within your inventory.
With this technology in place, manufacturers can reduce the risk of production outages while better aggregating their MRO spend across their enterprise.
3. Mitigate risks
In a post-pandemic world, businesses realize that increasing visibility is not enough to optimize their supply chain operations. Rather, this visibility must be leveraged to ensure seamless supply chain services devoid of any major disruptions.
During the pandemic, manufacturing plants had to shut down due to the proliferation of the COVID-19 virus. Many businesses had to halt their manufacturering operations completely, leading to a cascade of consequences including decreased sales, lower profit margins, dissatisfied customers, and major delivery delays.
The time sensitivity of certain goods and demands for shorter transit times play a pivotal role in formulating a production and distribution strategy in which a shorter delivery time provides a competitive edge over competitors. However, if your production lines go down due to an MRO material shortage, the impacts from previous disruptions become exponentially worse.
To meet such efficiency-led demand, supply chain companies need to have complete visibility of the critical MRO parts to ensure manufacturing operations online. An AI-driven decision support system can offer visibility that can help businesses identify their resources in a streamlined way to mitigate interruptions and enhance responsiveness.
Artificial intelligence provides the ability to not only respond but prepare for disruption. Based on data at a given time, decision support systems can provide the ability to ensure supply in the face of a given disruption.
4. Reduce waste
It’s very common for manufacturers to resort to write-offs due to a buildup of wasted working capital — when MRO inventory doesn’t get used due to problems like duplicate materials or expired part lifecycles.
Using data analysis, manufacturers can proactively identify material overages that usually go unnoticed, and thus reduce the probability of wasted spend.
This method allows businesses to gain insight into which supplies have exceeded their recommended safety stock levels and which ones require replenishment. If there is a pattern that’s identified, the company can then take action to prevent this from occurring in the future.
MRO inventory optimization comes with its own set of challenges and complexities that simply can no longer be easily handled manually or by standard analytical tools. A purpose-built cloud-based solution that integrates Industry 4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning provides a reliable decision support system to complement your supply chain strategy.
Material management software gives you the luxury of leveraging these digital tools to carry out complex tasks, analyze large data sets, generate insights, and choose the best course of action from millions of line times through probability-based outcomes.
With increased end-to-end visibility of your MRO inventory, you can access accurate, up-to-date, and clean data across your entire supply chain.
To learn more about how you can transform your MRO inventory management via the right decision support system software, check out this self-guided tour today.