Effective MRO is an essential part of facilitating smooth manufacturing processes and supply chain continuity. Luckily, the days of managing all the necessary parts and materials without the help of MRO software are long gone.
Now, though, you’re left facing a different beast: picking the best solution for your operation.
With so many options out there – each touting higher quantities of data collection, more complex features to navigate, and elaborate implementation strategies, it can be hard to find a simple and effective solution.
So, what should you really be looking for in the noise-filled world of MRO inventory management?
Keep it simple and effective
Look for fast and dynamic results
A good materials management solution should be able to harmonize your data with your procurement initiatives from the get-go.
It shouldn’t promise the noise of useless data visualization that really offers any real actionability , but should help you cut through clutter of existing data so that you can immediately use it to start making decisions.
Long implementation times for complicated processes that require months of data governance without recommending new insights leave you saddled with additional problems that occurred during the waiting period, or worse yet, that arose out of your new “helpful” data analysis.
Your software needs to be as adaptive as you are, continually using human action to make sense of the data in order to help you integrate advanced decision support, improve your manufacturing strategy, and reduce risks.
That means optimizing data across sites so that you can catch imbalances on a location-to-location basis and coupling it with robust findings. This allows you to keep your priorities current so that you can continue to solve problems rather than trade old ones out for new ones.
Let’s visit this hypothetical to see what this looks like.
Suppose your initial goal is cutting costs, and you just so happen to identify significant expenses in excess manufacturing parts. It may seem intuitive to cut spending on redundant purchases and redistribute parts across plants, especially if you already have them overstocked.
If your new manufacturing solution hasn’t found ways to review data across sites, though, you may not notice different needs for the specific part across sites.
Your older, high-volume plant may need more frequent repairs than your new one, but the parts are all housed in your new, smooth-running plant.
A system that doesn’t capture dynamic changes may fail to consider upstream planning in conjunction with cutting costs. Simply being down for a few hours because of delayed maintenance can lead to serious costs and could have been avoided with upstream planning.
The point is that MRO is full of robust and dynamic problems that require robust and dynamic problem-solving. It can’t happen piecemeal, because that ultimately keeps you from seeing results.
A solid software solution keeps nitty-gritty details in mind while recommending action items so that minor issues don’t wreak havoc on operations.
Trading out one problem to quickly solve another doesn’t get you fast results, it just creates a new problem.
A happy marriage between tech and manpower
There is growing consensus that data collection leads to better results.
However, more data in and of itself is not always a good thing, especially when you don’t do anything with it to drive improvement.
According to Michael Grogan, a data science consultant, “more data is not better if much of that data is irrelevant to what you are trying to predict.”
It’s important to determine the relevance of data and filter it using analytic approaches to help solve problems.
However, doing analytics over an organization’s worth of collected data manually is not only overwhelming, but it’s also prone to human error, and quite frankly, unscalable. This is why traditional data cleansing and governance projects fall flat on promised results.
Outdated data analysis methods that leverage traditional tech might automate processes for sorting through data, but the reporting doesn’t adapt with new information or couple with complex goals. This becomes especially complicated if disparate data across facilities makes it impossible to make sense of the information that is collected.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning, on the other hand, can help solve complex problems while making sense of large datasets.
Your MRO and materials intelligence solution should possess the capabilities this new technology offers because it easily makes sense of data, and delivers findings that are useful and applicable.
That means that you cut through the noise of data, quickly identify patterns, and best of all, walk away with reporting that people can actually understand.
Harmonizing your data is as much about collecting robust information from multiple sources as it is about making it useful for multiple stakeholders across both operations and procurement teams.
Actionable decision support
Efficient MRO software not only reports out, but also helps you consider your next best move. From spending to procurement, your investment in an MRO software should translate to visible ROI in the form of saved time, money, and resources.
A robust MRO tool finds trends in spending and inventory to optimize inventory and helps make smart choices about procurement needs moving forward.
Predictive analysis uses existing data to generate valuable insights.
For instance, an intelligent materials solution should be able to account for supplier insights and other metrics to help target specific savings opportunities for each spend category. Using this information, businesses can establish spend thresholds to minimize maverick spending.
The solutions proposed by your MRO software should be both doable and effective, using your unique spending, inventory, and procurement history to suggest best approaches.
How small steps make big changes
Forecast needs with accuracy
Advanced analytics make upstream planning easy and tailored to your production needs. Following trends in material use, inventory stock, and spending data allow you to make informed decisions about when to beef up inventory or reduce overages to minimize expenses.
It keeps spending where it’s needed, and ensures that procurement happens at the right time so that you can cut the guessing out of supply strategies.
Forecasting needs also means making the most out of resources that already exist so that you can avoid waste, duplicate spending, or outdated purchases.
Running through these processes with automated software means that you have more time to optimize other moving parts of your operation.
Reliable and adaptive data models not only help you save but also lay the groundwork for scaling up.
Centralize data and decision making
Geographic separation is a common excuse for differences in data collection across sites. It results in a collection of uncentralized and often duplicate data.
Disparate and outdated systems create siloed data that is rife with inefficiencies and offers very limited valuable insight into operations.
SaaS solutions centralize data into a single, customizable platform which not only eliminates data silos but also offers a holistic overview of the entire supply ecosystem rather than a keyhole view of a subset of it.
With access to real-time and accurate data, stakeholders can monitor the lifecycle of their production through every stage of the process. Then, they can make sense of granular-level data that can be compared across sites.
With end-to-end visibility you can identify issues well ahead of their full manifestation, avoiding bottlenecks in production and downtime.
Machine learning algorithms shed light on the most pressing pain points in your MRO management system and suggest the next best steps to help resolve them on a micro and macro level.
Find a solution that works.
Harmonizing MRO data should be easy.
While some MRO systems tout “real results” from complex systems with multiple layers, they can be challenging to navigate and generate convoluted results.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The right MRO software should streamline your procurement process and unlock the potential of your supply chain by providing features such as real-time visibility, advanced analytics, risk mitigation, and more.
Skip the slow-to-implement and difficult-to-manage software and opt for a fast, simple, and configurable approach. Embrace the purpose-built solutions designed to optimize your materials while delivering sustainable results time and again.
To learn more about balancing efficiency and responsiveness through material management software, download the ebook on overcoming MRO challenges today.