Many fleets are focusing on minimizing the level of heavy duty truck parts inventory they carry in their shops. Inventory is cash tied up in an illiquid asset. Most companies would rather have that cash working for them more productively. However, there are some consequences for keeping inventory too low. The most obvious one is equipment downtime; if you don’t have a spare part for an unscheduled repair, the truck may be down longer than needed.
The second reason is cost. If you spot buy on are regular basis because your inventory is low, you are likely paying a higher price for the part than you would if you bought in greater quantity.
Lastly, supplier service level may fall short; your suppliers may have a tough time keeping the parts you need on hand because they don’t have visibility as to what you will need.
So the question is: how do you minimize the pitfalls by keeping your inventory as low as possible and at the same time, make sure costs are in line and repairs can be done on time? Here are a couple of things that can help manage these challenges.
First, if you have multiple equipment brands for tractors and trailers, develop a cross-reference between common parts. For example, one OE D2 Governor can be substituted by a different OE brand if you know that the component manufacturer part number is the same for each. That way you can consolidate inventory (if warranty issues are not a concern) by stocking one maintenance part for both brands.
Second, keep open communications with your suppliers. Let them know what equipment you are running and keep them updated with changes in your fleet. The more they know, the better their service level will be.
Third, ask your dealers to keep you informed of any problems in the supply chain; for example if a part is back ordered due to a production problem, you will need to find a substitute.
Fourth, keep track of superseded and obsolete parts notices from the dealers. Often, it’s only the part number that is changing, not the part and this knowledge will help you keep from buying parts unnecessarily.
These are just a few things that can help you optimize inventory. If you have others, please share them with us.