Manufacturing plants and facilities are an integral part of the supply chain, and many are considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. While critical infrastructure workers have continued to work during shelter-in-place quarantines, now that the US is looking to phase in the reopening of America, the prospect of more employees in facilities and increased operations has organizations assessing their readiness and precautions.
In addition to following CDC guidelines on staggered shifts and social distancing, manufacturing plants have to consider disinfecting all areas of the plant and creating safe working conditions, especially in those confined spaces and areas with a high volume of foot traffic, people touching & handling equipment, redeploying throughout the plant, and potentially spreading germs.
This means in addition to break rooms, locker rooms, rest rooms and packaging centers, manufacturers have to consider parts room management and how to keep these storerooms safe.
Implement a Kitting Program to Minimize Storeroom Visits
One area of parts room management that helps cut down on the need for maintenance techs to come to the window or visit the storeroom is a kitting and delivery service. Putting all the parts and tools needed to perform a specific repair or replacement can significantly reduce the number of trips to the storeroom and is generally a good parts room management practice. These repair and maintenance kits can also be assembled at the supplier’s or distributor’s facility and delivered via contactless locker systems. The added benefit in kitting is that it saves the maintenance team the time it takes to pick the parts they need, saving time during the repair process itself.
Optimize the Availability of Consumables with Intelligent Vending Systems
As part of an overall parts room management strategy, intelligent industrial vending ensures line workers and maintenance techs can access the consumables, industrial PPE, and supplies they need near their work locations, without human interaction. While it’s critical that facilities follow proper procedure for disinfecting, intelligent vending machine technology and infrastructure offers the added benefit of tracking material usage. Seamlessly collecting, sorting, and categorizing MRO supply and material usage information can provide insights into productivity, efficiency and inventory control.
Utilize Mobile Apps and eProcurement Software
Deployment of digital technologies in parts room management can help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus through touchless transactions that have the added benefit of connecting the MRO supply chain to production reliability include eProcurement software and smartphone apps. eProcurement Software platforms offer access to a dynamic marketplace with an extensive range of categories for tail spend, including the industrial PPE list. These types of platforms can help the maintenance staff to get exactly what they need, where they need it, to reduce contact with any possible contagions. For on-the-go material searches and requests mobile apps are a parts room management must. Mobile apps can also allow accurate and timely cycle counting, issuing, picking and delivery tracking, which is vital for work order completion.
Secure the Storeroom to Reduce Entry
Secure the storeroom door to minimize or eliminate unauthorized entry. It sounds like parts room management 101, but you’d be surprised how many people walk into and out of a storeroom each day, potentially spreading germs to parts and materials that may be deployed to all areas of the plant. Good practices under normal circumstances dictate you secure the door to the storeroom. Post-COVID, it’s prudent to post signage instructing PPE protocol before entrance, if not restricting the storeroom to authorized personnel. Additionally, consider installing cloud-based monitored camera systems in your parts rooms.
Disinfect Your Inventory
While organizations are considering disinfectant solutions for breakrooms and bathrooms, the storerooms pose as great a health risk to workers. It’s critical as either a stand alone service or as part of a 5S or 6S (the sixth S is for safety) parts room management initiative, to follow the proper procedure for disinfecting not only the surface areas of the storeroom, but each individual part as well. All surfaces are not created equal, so specific procedures for disinfecting the various surfaces and parts at your facility will vary depending upon the type of cleaning system (electrostatic sprayer) and solution your provider uses, and how long it is left on the surface, keeping in mind the toxicity of certain chemicals.
It’s all too easy for manufacturers to get caught up in day-to-day operations to address the challenges of inefficient parts room management practices. And while they’d love to make the turn from reactive to proactive, it’s usually pushed off for other priorities. This global pandemic has already accelerated timelines in the adoption of digital technologies. Now organizations are finding the push to reopen America is accelerating the need to address best practices in parts room management to help create safer working conditions for their returning employees and mitigate the risk of spreading this potentially deadly virus. SDI has specialized in MRO supply chain and parts room management for nearly 50 years. If you’d like to talk with a supply chain expert on best practices and recommended steps you can take, contact us today.