The manufacturing industry has been under mounting pressure from growing international competition, industry consolidation, and increasing customer expectations. Chemical manufacturers aren’t immune to these industry trends and are looking for ways beyond their direct supply to improve efficiency and effectiveness in their supply chains. Turning attention to indirect supply chain, MRO, and tailspend can dramatically improve business outcomes for specialty chemical and petrochemical manufacturers. The best part is that chemical manufacturers can start with small commitment, quick win initiatives. It can be as easy as starting with inventory management in the maintenance storeroom.
Why is MRO inventory management so important for chemical manufacturers in particular?
The material being manufactured (some hazardous, others not) mandates more accountability and controls in storerooms to comply with the risk processes. As those in the industry know, safety is also paramount in a chemical manufacturing environment. Consider the catastrophic consequences of the wrong thickness of a hose due to improper labeling or a valve not properly gauged because it was placed in the wrong bin. Inventory management and MRO storeroom procedures are critical in a petrochem or specialty chemical plant.
The challenges chemical manufacturers face in MRO storeroom and inventory management
The major issue that MRO supply chain management addresses for chemical, petrochemical, and specialty chemical manufacturers is unplanned maintenance or downtime. Planned parts for scheduled maintenance may not be in stock for unplanned or emergency maintenance. Alternatively, suppliers for planned parts may not be able to meet the fast lead time needed on unplanned maintenance. Manufacturing schedules, which in turn drive the revenue for the chemical business, are brought to a standstill, so keeping plant uptime is crucial.
Some simple ways to address these challenges include:
- Barcoding and technology for predictive stock are important factors in process automation, but it’s just as important to keep an orderly and cleanly managed storeroom.
- BOMs or Bill of Materials need to be updated to reflect asset parts and manufacturers needed in order to support those major components. Read more about how to overcome common BOM woes.
- Critical spares should be identified, so plants know ahead of any downtime what parts are crucial, what the lead times are on those critical spares, and plan accordingly.
- OEM parts, parts from the original equipment manufacturer, should be inventoried at the time of creating Approved Manufacturers Lists (AMLs). These lists give you information as to who can supply parts to the plants, and assure you that they meet corrosion standards.
- Keep track of warranties and repairs. This goes a long way towards maintaining the integrity of your spares, while reducing waste and costs.
- Inventory on PPE or personal protective equipment, motor spares, valve parts, filters and oils (and approved suppliers) should be maintained in order to stay current with specifications and standards.
As chemical manufacturers are put under greater pressure to reduce prices, they must find new ways to make their supply chains more efficient. Meeting automation and processing standards in Industry 4.0 means supply chains are growing more and more complex, but mastering the basics in the indirect supply chain, getting control of MRO inventory and standardizing processes in the maintenance storeroom are easy steps in lowering downtime, improving lead times, and becoming more efficient.