Machine downtime can have a big impact on a manufacturer’s bottom line. Industrial equipment often has a lifecycle of 20+ years, and the older equipment gets, the more maintenance it needs. Even a small component needing to be replaced can halt production lines and significantly impact the working week, or even month, if the replacement part isn’t on hand. Manufacturers need to ensure service parts are available when and where they are most in demand to ensure maximised product uptime.

Move with the times

The best way to do this is to automate service parts inventory management – automation allows companies to avoid excess and obsolete inventory through consistently ensuring service parts are immediately available when a repair is needed. It enables manufacturers that sell globally to manage service parts inventory around the world from a central interface. Their customers can increase productivity, decrease downtime, reduce spending on parts, and boost production operation.

A missed opportunity

Although maximising product uptime is a revenue-driver and a key competitive differentiator very few manufacturers are actively leveraging this way of thinking. This is a lost opportunity: according to IDC, manufacturers could use inventory management solutions to increase revenue by up to 30 per cent.

 Organisations that have automated their systems are realising the following four benefits.

Improved efficiency

Many manufacturers still rely on manual processes to forecast and plan service parts inventory for their products, which is laborious and time-consuming. Automated service parts management solutions use end-customer demand to create pull-driven replenishment planning at all levels of the service supply chain, minimise manual effort and ensure more efficient processes.

Use of analytics

In addition to eliminating cumbersome manual processes, it’s important for companies to improve visibility into excess and obsolete service parts inventory: holding stock is an expense in itself, so optimising inventory can improve profit margins. The automated process takes into account existing stocks, local and global planned movements, variable lead times and replenishment planning policies.

It’s connected

Many manufacturers have global locations that operate through independent systems. Disconnected manual systems add several layers and create inefficiencies throughout the service supply chain. A single service parts management solution, however, lays the foundation for a coordinated global service supply chain across multiple systems. It’s hard to argue with the immediate benefits of a coordinated system that provides better global inventory positioning.

Enhanced customer experience

As well as improving margins and revenue, automation can facilitate superior customer service. With the understanding that industrial machinery is critical to manufacturing, uptime is an extremely important factor in customer satisfaction. By automating service parts management, manufacturers can ensure they respond to their customers’ needs with quick and reliable service repairs.

Be ahead of the curve

Better service parts inventory management is not only a source of profit; it has ramifications throughout the organisation, its distribution network and its customers. Today’s most forward-thinking companies are realising that maximising product uptime is a key competitive differentiator and revenue-driver – be one of them.