Believe it or not, maintenance stockroom organization is a labor intensive maintenance activity. It can take anywhere from 3-12 months to complete. The physical materials needed for organizing a stockroom (shelving, bins, labels, bolts, etc.), can be expensive, so the design of a stockroom needs to be efficient to keep maintenance costs low. Safety, storage options, signage, and labeling all need to be considered. However, the end result is well worth the effort.
The obvious advantages of an organized stockroom are having the parts you need and being able to find them quickly. In turn, this leads to improvements in productivity and lower maintenance costs. Because it takes less time to find a part and stocking levels are better managed, your inventory items become more transparent. It will be easier to know what you do or don’t have in stock. This guide will give you the information you need to have a well-organized stockroom and experience the benefits of it.
Why Maintenance Stockroom Organization Matters
At this point, you may be thinking: why does maintenance stockroom organization matter so much? If I find my parts eventually and the work gets done, is it really that important? Some people can work within “organized chaos”—others cannot. It’s important that anyone who is allowed to access the parts is able to use the stockroom based on your organization system.
An organized stockroom is important because it helps you avoid all the problems that come along with a messy storeroom: wasting time finding parts you need, safety hazards from parts being stored improperly, overstock from ordering parts too soon, or running out of parts you need. It is also important to store all of your parts and tools correctly to prevent damage to them.
Spare parts organization results in faster maintenance and repair times. When you have the parts you need available and you can find them quickly, maintenance work gets done faster. It also reduces excess inventory because you won’t order more parts than you need.
You will experience fewer stock outs, or instances where you don’t have enough parts in stock. Organizing your stockroom also ensures the most efficient use of space in the stockroom. Finally, the part will be stored properly, increasing employee safety throughout the storeroom and reducing the potential for damage to stored parts.
For more about storing maintenance inventory in an organized manner, read about the 5S Methodology, a workplace organization method used in manufacturing environments.
Determining the Best Stock Organization Methods
Stockroom organization techniques may not seem that important, however, small details make a big difference in maintenance. There are many different ways you can organize your maintenance stockroom. Keep in mind that most maintenance departments need to experiment with or try out different strategies to find what works best for them and achieve the best results.
By Asset Type
One way is to organize your parts by asset, or group parts by which asset they are associated with. This makes it easier to find and assemble kits for work orders. It is also helpful when you have a major repair to do on an asset and you need a lot to parts at once. On the other hand, this can lead to part duplication. When the same part is used on multiple assets, you may not be able to maintain an accurate count of each part.
By Part Type
The next way is to organize parts by type (bearings with bearings, bolts with bolts, filters with filters, motors with motors, etc). This method can be helpful for troubleshooting because if you don’t have the exact part available, you may be able to substitute a similar item in some cases. When using this method, you must be careful that you don’t grab the wrong part when in a rush.
Retaining a Supply of Critical Spares
Another way to keep your stockroom inventory organized is to maintain a backup of critical spares. It is a common best practice to purchase critical spare parts right after you purchase a new asset. When you do this, you’ll know that back up parts will be on hand and which vendor they are from. Most vendors have a list of these parts that they will recommend for you to purchase. However, it is up to your maintenance manager to decide if this is a good investment at the time the asset is purchased.
Safety and Cleanliness
Two simple and important, but often overlooked areas of maintenance stockroom organization are safety and cleanliness. Safety should be a top priority because of what could happen if the stockroom is unsafe. Heavy inventory items should not be stored on top of shelving units as they could easily slide off. Consider the weight capacity of your shelves. Heavy parts should be stored near the floor while smaller, lighter parts can be stored on higher shelves.
Make sure your aisles are wide enough not only for people to comfortably walk through, but for forklifts to pass through as well to retrieve large items. You’ll also want to consider minimum and maximum stock requirements to ensure there is adequate space in the storeroom. Be sure to store ladders and other tools out of the way.
Safety considerations also include weather proofing based on the types of severe weather your area is prone to. If you live in an area where earthquakes occur, you may need to take extra precautions. These include securing stockroom racks to the floor and wall. If you live in an area that has hurricanes, you may need to take extra precautions against flooding, keeping items off the floor in case water comes in.
When it comes to cleanliness, it is important to keep dust and humidity to a minimum. When there is excess moisture in the air, it collects on surfaces and can cause corrosion and mold. Depending on the industry and types of parts, some dusty parts don’t work as well, and dust combined with humidity can cause dirt to stick to parts and become difficult to remove.
Other conditions in the stockroom should be maintained to contribute to cleanliness and safety, as well as preserve the quality of parts. Holes in the roof, cracked or broken windows, and missing doors should be repaired. Poor lighting and faulty heating or air conditioning should also be remedied. While the things mentioned above sound like common sense, you’d be surprised at how often they are neglected.
Labeling and Signage
Part of maintenance storeroom organization is communicating with others about how it is organized. This is done through labeling and signage. It’s important to label bins, shelves, and aisles to indicate where parts are stored. This form of communication needs to be easy to understand for everyone who regularly uses the stockroom and anyone who might occasionally access it. CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) software’s naming convention capabilities will be useful here, since you can match up what you name parts, bins, and shelves to part naming and location naming conventions in the software.
You might put up signs to label various sections of the storeroom for purposes of safety and direction, as well as put up signs such as “Watch Your Step”, “Electrical Room”, “Authorized Personnel Only”, and other directions.
Additional Storage Options
While shelves and bins are common maintenance storeroom options for parts, you may also store tools and small parts in cabinets and drawers. Keep in mind there may be some items that can or should be stored outside of the storeroom. This could include lockboxes, cabinets with padlocks on them, or small areas of shelving in other areas of the building. The reasons for these additional storage options include:
- Providing quicker access for maintenance in locations far away from the stockroom
- Saving time during a hectic shift or while training new employees
- Needing extra space for parts in which you have a lot on hand
These storage decisions vary by organization, but your maintenance department should make these determinations according to what works best for your team.
General Stockroom Organization Tips
Since we’ve established the importance of maintenance stockroom organization, here are some general tips to help you go through the organization process.
The first tip for storing maintenance inventory is to keep similar parts together. As discussed in the stockroom organization methods section, there are different ways to define similar parts.
Another tip is to rack up the hardware. You should store small, loose parts in open bins to access them easily. Larger items can be placed on heavy duty racks designed to hold more weight. For more expensive valuable items, you can store them in a locked cabinet.
You should also have a system of taxonomy, or classification. This is where asset naming conventions and stockroom storage location data tracked in a CMMS system would be useful. Make your stockroom easy to navigate. Keep a master list of what’s in your stockroom and update it regularly.
Another thing to consider when it comes to maintenance storeroom organization is to make room for a kitting area and to work on refurbishing parts, if applicable. Not all industries will benefit from or be able to refurbish parts, but for those that can, it is nice to have a designated work space.
Finally, consider placing security measures in areas where there is shrinkage, inefficiencies, part misplacement, or other forms of lost revenue.
The key is to find what works for your team and what makes sense based on the types of parts and assets you have. Overall, you should focus on eliminating bottlenecks in retrieving parts for maintenance jobs, optimizing the maintenance workflow by finding parts quickly, and making the layout intuitive. You need to make sure you have all of the supplies to maintain an organized stockroom, including software such as a CMMS system with inventory management capabilities.
FTMaintenance Inventory Management Helps You Track Spare Parts
FTMaintenance can help you organize your stockroom efficiently and track your MRO inventory. With the ability to create straightforward naming conventions, keep accurate part counts, and utilize purchase order capabilities, FTMaintenance’s inventory management feature will ensure you always have what you need in stock. To learn more about what FTMaintenance can do for your organization’s maintenance operations, request a demo with our team today.