What Is MRO Inventory Management & Why It’s Essential to Be Proactive

EAM Software / September 2023

When it comes to proactively scheduling maintenance and reducing the expense of unplanned downtime, the management of your MRO inventory is essential. Your maintenance, repair, and operations inventory will consist of several materials and equipment to keep mission-critical assets continuously running smoothly that include:

  • Tools (spanners, ratchets, clamps, fasteners, grinders, etc.)
  • Lubricants and oils
  • Safety equipment and PPE
  • Industrial equipment (pumps, compressors, etc.)

There are various solutions available to help improve the management of your MRO inventory, including Enterprise Asset Management Software. This helps to perform and automate MRO inventory management tasks and can reduce inventory costs alone by up to 40%.

Whereas the management of raw materials and finished goods may take priority for most businesses, it is the management of maintenance, repairs, and operation supplies that can help to dramatically increase productivity on the production line.

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What Is MRO Inventory Management?

MRO inventory management protocols ensure all relevant information regarding each of a business’s MRO items is recorded. That includes data such as cost, supplier details, location, previous users, stock quantity, and more. This allows maintenance teams, plant managers, and other users to easily view, edit, and upload information about MRO supplies.

This detailed list of information is also referred to as an MRO BOM (Bill of Materials), which is essentially a list of all equipment spare parts associated with your MRO inventory.

MRO is the term used to describe a business’s maintenance, repairs, and operations (MRO) supplies. Along with raw materials and finished goods, keeping stock of MRO items is important to ensure the uptime of assets such as equipment and infrastructure. This is where an effective MRO inventory management process can help.

Typically, MRO inventory is removed from product inventory lists. This means the majority of MRO stock can be seen as items that do not directly generate revenue. Because of this, spare parts inventory management is often neglected, with 42% of business owners claiming their parts and consumables inventory tracking needed improving.

Essentially, the core components of MRO inventory management can be broken down into four stages; identification, location, procurement, and inventory control.

The 4 Stages of MRO Inventory Management

1. Asset Identification

To ensure the speed and effectiveness of maintenance schedules, technicians and maintenance personnel need to be able to identify what MRO items are in stock. This is also helped with the use of a bill of materials (BOM) or asset registers.

2. Located Spare Parts and Equipment In the Workplace

Depending on a business’s size of operations, spare parts can be spread out across multiple sites and warehouses. This means, once an MRO item has been identified, it needs to be tracked down in the most time-efficient manner. With technicians spending up to 25% of their time locating spare parts, providing location data is essential to help prevent delays in planned maintenance and repairs.

3. Purchasing MRO Assets With a Successful ROI In Mind

From initial requests to final payments, the procurement process is crucial for making sure the right spare parts are ordered in the most cost-effective manner. Once an EAM system is in place, this process can be automated to make sure spare parts are consistently stocked.

4. Excelling In Inventory Control and Management

Implementing a sufficient inventory control system means the right MRO items are in stock and available at the right time. This eliminates any delays to repairs that may prolong costly unplanned downtime and allows for maintenance tasks to be performed efficiently.

Why MRO Inventory Management Is Important

Without an MRO inventory management system in place, businesses will begin to lose ground in the efficiency of their production. As well as incurring large costs that can have a significant impact on their bottom line.

One major problem that can plague an organisation’s neglect of a digitised inventory management tool is having a stockroom that is either understocked or overstocked. Being understocked by not having the right MRO supplies at the right time will prolong delays to maintenance and increase downtime. Whereas being overstocked and having too much inventory results in wasteful spending.

Another issue that businesses face without the use of an inventory management tool is an increase in unplanned downtime. So much so that 42% of maintenance workers claimed that downtime was their biggest issue due to poor spare parts management. This is particularly true for businesses that rely on heavy machinery and equipment for production, such as manufacturers.

Although planned downtime for updates and scheduled repairs can prolong an asset’s uptime, it’s unplanned downtime that can hurt a business. In fact, in 2016 alone, US manufacturing companies faced a loss of up to $260,000 per hour through unplanned downtime.

Why MRO Inventory Management Is Essential

With the use of an automated system to help manage enterprise assets, maintenance teams and asset managers can have access to an efficient MRO inventory management tool that can to track and manage spare parts.

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Using EAM Software to Improve the Management of MRO Supplies

In a 2018 study, 94% of respondents admitted that the management of their spare parts and MRO items was important. Couple this with 88% of asset-intensive organisations realising the potential that preventive maintenance strategies have for eliminating unplanned downtime, which makes EAM Software the perfect tool.

With an efficient MOR inventory management system and EAM tool in place, businesses can reduce downtime. As well as eliminating delays that dramatically affect production and thus affect revenue. They’re also essential when it comes to eliminating unnecessary costs that are linked to maintaining stock. With 18% of businesses admitting to wasting money on parts they already have.

But, MRO stock control is just one of many features available with either a CMMS or EAM tool. Other capabilities targeted at asset-intensive businesses include:

  • Work order management
  • Asset lifecycle management
  • Maintenance planning and scheduling
  • Data reporting and analytics
  • Supply chain management

3 Benefits of Managing Your MRO Inventory With an EAM Tool

1. Improve Time-Management In Asset-Led Output

With staff spending 10-25% of their time searching for the right spare parts, improving stock control is essential for eliminating delays in production. But, with access to a BOM or asset register, staff can locate where the right spare part is located and track it down without delay.

Modern EAM tools also come with the option to deploy asset tags to help improve the tracking of key assets. This allows asset managers to tag MRO items with RFID tags, GPS trackers, barcodes, or QR codes to speed up the process of locating spare parts.

2. Optimise MRO Stock Levels & Ordering Schedules

Using an automated and analytics-based approach, MRO inventory tools enable businesses to optimise their stockrooms. This not only eliminates the issues and cost implications associated with overstocked and understocked warehouses, but it also greatly improves the accuracy of stock levels. This helps to eliminate the order quantity inaccuracies that affect 81% of businesses.

MRO inventory tools also allow businesses to automate their stock procurement processes. Meaning fewer delays when waiting for spare parts to arrive. With 50% of work orders remaining open due to technicians waiting on spare parts, automating spare parts procurement is essential.

3. Take a Preventive Approach to Asset Maintenance

Largely caused by ageing equipment and neglected maintenance, downtime is a leading factor in the loss of revenue. This was certainly the case for the automotive industry in 2005, as an average of $22,000 was lost every minute through unplanned downtime. The main cause of this was poor inventory management, with 50% of unplanned downtime relating to a lack of spare parts or stockouts.

Implementing an accurate MRO inventory management system is key for businesses looking to engineer a preventive maintenance approach. Effectively shifting away from a reactive maintenance strategy.


What Does MRO Stand For?

MRO stands for maintenance, repair, and operations. MRO inventory encompasses all assets and activities needed to keep a business running efficiently and smoothly.