Top 5 Challenges in Parts Inventory Management

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1 Ventyx Expert Series Top 5 Challenges in Parts Inventory Management The ultimate goal is to have the right amount of inventory in just the right places, to meet the organization s overall goals for production performance. Companies in asset intensive industries typically hold large inventories of materials and equipment parts, as part of their everyday operations. The ultimate goal is to have the right amount of inventory in just the right places, to meet the organization s overall goals for production performance as well as meeting its obligations to comply with customer service delivery, health and safety, environmental and other regulations. This paper looks at the top five challenges facing inventory managers in asset intensive industries, where inventories are large, complex and involve heavy investment Never impacting performance through a stock-out Keeping both the Maintenance and Finance teams happy Aligning inventory with maintenance operations Improving the integrity and usability of the catalogue to ensure end-to-end supply chain efficiency Managing and optimizing vendors based on operational needs

2 1 Never impacting performance through a stock-out Enterprises in asset intensive industries face unique inventory challenges. They need to hold and manage large, expensive maintenance and production inventories. The lack of a critical spare part will be costly; unplanned stoppages result in lost revenue, and may have a significant safety or environmental impact. Criticality analysis and weighting ensures that the true importance of each item in maintaining production is reflected in stock levels, while addressing safety and regulatory compliance. Inventory optimization software can integrate with an organization s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to manage spare parts and other inventory items factoring criticality along with the many other important metrics within its decision-making processes. Woodside Petroleum faces severe constraints in storage of production and safety critical items on its offshore drilling rigs. Inventory optimization software has proven to be the ideal tool in assigning criticalities and ensuring that sufficient stock is held even under conditions of considerable difficulty. By automating the sophisticated analysis functions needed to continuously assess and adjust critical inventory levels, inventory managers can greatly reduce inventory costs and eliminate waste while minimizing both the risk of stock-outs and the administrative effort involved. 2 Keeping both the Maintenance and Finance teams happy Most organizations believe that they are faced with a dichotomy. The Maintenance department wants to keep plenty of spares to avoid costly disruption to operations due to stock-outs of critical items. Meanwhile, the CFO wants to free capital tied up in inventory holdings. Analysis by a tool capable of examining the all the key metrics of each inventory item will show that there is no dichotomy at all but, rather, a need for stratification. There are many types of inventory items ranging from critical equipment spares (with the potential to shut down the site) through to parts for less critical plant items (such as personal protective equipment and tools) and low impact consumables (such as lighting spares and cleaning supplies). Carrying inventory costs money from the cost of capital itself (warehouse expenses, physical handling and clerical/cataloguing processes) through to obsolescence, deterioration and pilferage. The average annual carrying cost across asset intensive industries is 25-55% of the total inventory value. This means an inventory worth $100 million costs between $25 and $55 million annually. Cutting inventory by just 10% could save $ million each year. Employing statistical processes to optimize stock levels of all inventory items to the ideal level appropriate to the nature of the item will generate significant savings and free up inventory capital even though stock levels on critical items may be increased. Performing this inventory optimization manually is labor-intensive, with the sheer number of items limiting the ability to make a significant impact. Inventory optimization software not only automates the process but also provides powerful tools to solve three operational challenges on an ongoing basis: poor cataloguing and classification, vendor management, and warehouse management. This leads to a reduction in overall inventory level while mitigating the risk of stock-outs to satisfy the legitimate expectations of both Finance and Maintenance stakeholders. Ventyx Expert Series: Top 5 Challenges in Parts Inventory Management 2

3 3 Aligning inventory with maintenance operations Even if a company has reliable analysis and processes, maintenance managers usually want to hold as many items as possible, just in case of breakdowns or supplier lead time blow-outs. Inventory managers know that excessive inventory size costs lots of money, and they are usually well aware of the algorithms that need to be used to calculate optimal levels. However the sheer size of the inventory, along with constant variability, often leads to frustration and underperformance. The outcome of this lack of rapid and objective analysis frequently results in an inflated inventory that still leaves maintenance staff unsure as to whether there is sufficient stock of critical items. Moreover, keeping inventory in step with maintenance needs is a continual struggle. Spares for decommissioned equipment may be kept for years, representing wasted warehouse space and diminishing market value. Large numbers of parts may no longer be required, but this is often unobserved because the person responsible for them has not been identified. A lack of alignment with preventative maintenance operations results in items being needlessly held in stock, poor utilization of stock items, and squirrel stores set up by disenchanted maintenance staff. In any given year, an inventory manager has an estimated 50,400 minutes available to carry out inventory management. Given that the time taken to optimize the stock levels of a single stock item takes at least five minutes, one can see that if inventory managers had nothing else to do, they would manage to review up to 10,080 line items annually. In many organizations, it can be expected that the number of inventory items under the control of the Inventory Manager varies between 30,000 to 3,500,000 items. Even if one were to assign a staff member to this task, the organization would only obtain limited benefit from their efforts as the usage and pricing of inventory items changes over time and, within 12 months of the review, the stock levels would need to be reassessed. Queensland Alumina (QAL) realized a net 14% reduction in inventory holding using Ventyx Critical Inventory Optimization. This has freed up capital and significantly reduced inventory whilst ensuring stocks of production dependent spares have been boosted. Addressing this challenge, inventory optimization software uses sophisticated forecasting algorithms and industry standard stock adjustment algorithms to analyze every inventory item. The solution then sets the stock levels (Min/Max) to the optimal values based principally on the criticality, usage profile, lead time and price of each item. Aligning inventory stocks with maintenance needs means more productive operations. For many organizations, alignment also results in significantly reduced inventory holdings by enabling the disposal of unwanted items and delivering a more accurate forecast of stock levels and re-order quantities. Most importantly, it gives the maintenance team confidence that holdings of critical items will be adequate to cover worst-case scenarios. Ventyx Expert Series: Top 5 Challenges in Parts Inventory Management 3

4 4 Improving the integrity and usability of the catalogue to ensure end-to-end supply chain efficiency Ineffective cataloguing hampers optimization of inventory stock levels. Common examples include the holding of identical items under two or more stock codes, along with item descriptions that confuse users leading to direct purchases of unneeded stock and yet more duplication of codes. Inventory classification is the cornerstone to successful inventory optimization. Items need to be classified according to their physical characteristics, their accounting group, the manufacturer and part number, other codes (such as whether they are hazardous items) and any other compliance requirements. Unfortunately, updating the catalogue with the functionality of modern ERP systems can be extremely time consuming and the repetition of identical steps proves to be tedious to experienced staff. The solution is a system which accurately records catalogue items and their classifications and supports ongoing catalogue maintenance. Inventory optimization software helps in several ways by: As a result, the productivity of all users is improved, because the right items are easier and faster to find. Accurate classification feeds into more accurate determination of criticality reducing risk and overstocking, while ensuring adequate stocks of critical items. Using Ventyx Critical Inventory Optimization, it is not uncommon to see a 5-10% reduction in catalogue lines due to the removal of duplicates and obsolete items. Simplifying the process of cataloguing new items by providing a single screen with default fields pre-populated and the ability to rapidly identify items already catalogued Providing an automated workflow of the cataloguing of new items from a field user through the cataloguer to the inventory controller and for approval by senior staff Accurately capturing classifications, including combinations such as fast moving/high use or critical item/long lead time/hazardous goods Identifying catalogue item duplications using fuzzy logic Facilitating the import of multiple items into the catalogue from sources such as vendor catalogues and manufacturer parts lists Ventyx Expert Series: Top 5 Challenges in Parts Inventory Management 4

5 5 Managing and optimizing vendors based on operational needs One difficulty of meeting internal Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for inventory management is that success is largely dependent on the performance of parts and equipment suppliers. Companies in asset intensive industries need to keep appropriate stocks of critical spare parts at all times. Supplier lead times are an important factor in calculating holding levels and, if vendor performance improves, it may reduce the necessity of over-stocking critical parts just in case. To be successful, inventory optimization needs to extend out to suppliers. Inventory optimization software does this by enabling purchasing managers to regularly run scorecards for suppliers including how they measure up to specific contract terms, including KPIs for availability, quality and lead times. Companies in asset intensive industries with large numbers of vendors find the score-carding process intimidating when it depends on manual inputs. Comprehensive score-carding can readily be achieved by automated data gathering and reporting. Suboptimal and/or excellent vendor performance can be identified quickly and easily. By monitoring the performance of suppliers through score-carding and giving understandable, timely and constructive feedback the supplier relationship shifts from antagonistic and distrustful to one in which both parties work together as partners to achieve mutual goals. Less inventory needs to be held when there is confidence that purchase agreements will be honored in full and that lead times are as short and consistent as possible. Where there are multiple suppliers, their performance facilitates an informed purchasing choice for example, a slightly higher price might be acceptable if that vendor has a consistently short lead time. The benefit of this scorecard approach is that it provides effective metrics for managing suppliers which, in turn, helps the inventory manager and purchasing manager meet the organization s own internal KPIs. Bruce McNaught, Director Supply Chain Analytics, Ventyx After a career in electronics and IT in the aviation and electrical industries, Bruce moved into logistics-based IT systems for several companies in Australia and overseas. In 2002, disappointed with existing automated inventory optimization systems, Bruce formed his own company to create a system desperately needed by organizations needing to control large inventories. His company was adopted by major companies in Australia and the US. Since then, Bruce has headed the team within Ventyx responsible for all aspects of the sales, installation and support of the software system he developed Ventyx Critical Inventory Optimization (VCIO). About Ventyx Ventyx, an ABB company, is the world s leading supplier of industrial enterprise software and services for asset instensive industries such as energy, mining, public infrastructure and transportation. Ventyx solutions bridge the gap between information technologies (IT) and operational technologies (OT), enabling clients to make faster, better-informed decisions in both daily operations and long-term planning strategies. Some of the world s largest private and public enterprises rely on Ventyx solutions to minimize risk, enhance operational and financial performance, and execute the right strategies for the future. 2014, Ventyx, an ABB company. All rights reserved. Ventyx Expert Series: Top 5 Challenges in Parts Inventory Management 5

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