Learning Zone

Managing Your Inventory

By Ellen Sowerby
25 January 2021

Controlling parts and stock levels is an important part of fleet management and is integral in successful inventory management.

We look at the proven approaches to having an effective parts management plan.

For fleets, good inventory management processes will save time and money in several ways. With the costs of mechanical repairs increasing, addressing inventory management practices can reduce the risk of additional, unnecessary spend.

Effective inventory management means capital may be released that can be better invested in other areas of your operation, as well as increasing productivity through reduced downtime. It will have a positive effect on meeting customer service and satisfaction levels too.


Five things good inventory management will stop

  • Rising part costs due to a lack of visibility and control over inventories.
  • Reduced shop productivity through unnecessary time spent searching for parts.
  • Lower warranty recovery due to an inability to track coverage, leading to missed claims.
  • Reduced asset utilization due to time spent searching for parts which increases downtime.
  • Declining customer satisfaction through delays to the delivery of goods and services.


Putting simple practices in place

If managing thousands of parts and spares all seems too complex, don’t worry. It’s not. It’s relatively easy to find solutions to streamline inventory management practices.


Follow these 5 tactical approaches to optimise you inventory management:

 1. Organise your parts room 

 When frequently used inventory is easy to access, shop technicians can become more productive. Arranging inventory on shelves and bins so that components associated with systems, such as brakes and electrical items, can be located helps staff fill repair needs quickly. Good parts room housekeeping also helps identify slow-moving and obsolete parts that take up limited shelf space and raise inventory costs.

2. Improve visibility of parts

Nothing reduces asset utilization and impacts on customer service more than having maintenance or repair jobs delayed because the right parts are not in stock. By addressing poor inventory management problems, the correct items and parts quantities are always available to meet maintenance and repair needs. Efficient inventory planning also promotes effective purchasing practices, reducing the need for those costly last-minute orders.

3. Train technicians

When parts staff and technicians have the knowledge to recognize which parts are fast moving and need to be re-ordered more frequently, inventory needs can be met more effectively. Incorporating parts inventory topics into in-house training programs can help develop these skills. Parts management training programs are often available from industry associations.

4. Utilize vendor resources

Suppliers of fleet parts provide information that can help predict parts needs and establish effective ordering parameters to ensure adequate inventory. Along with details of your fleet’s previous purchases, an industry-wide view of parts usage can help compare quality, service life and costs among manufacturers. Parts vendors can provide integrations with purchasing systems that automate ordering – useful for when an emergency parts order is needed!

5. Streamline inventory with software

There are numerous measurable benefits that come from using a parts inventory management system as part of an advanced fleet and asset information solution. Minimise time-consuming administrative tasks through automated replenishment so parts can be stocked based on usage and upcoming needs. Software can also automate the purchase order process using predetermined parameters.

It can ensure accuracy and reduce management time by seamlessly and automatically transferring parts information from repair orders for internal billing and for vendor returns and payments through integration of your software across all departments.

You can also use fleet software to discover data and trends about failures and usage, which will enable you to make much more informed vehicle, equipment and replacement parts purchasing decisions.

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