If you manage parts you are constantly dealing with superseded and obsolete parts. Now, technology is a wonderful thing. Every day newer, better, smarter, longer lasting and more advanced parts are manufactured to make our trucks run better and our jobs easier. Wonderful, except when your job includes managing parts.
And these parts aren't just replaced with newer technology that causes suppliers and original equipment makers to supersede and obsolete parts. They can also do it because they are being replaced due to a defect, they are no longer necessary or an OE introduces a new piece of equipment, just to name a few. And sometimes, to throw another wrench into things, the part stays the same, but it’s the part number that has changed.
Whatever the reason, the real challenge lies in managing the obsolete, superseded and new part numbers in your system and knowing how these part numbers are connected. Otherwise, managing your inventory, making sure you buy the right part number in the future and use up the old parts first, becomes a much more difficult task.
The trick is to implement a smart cross-reference that talks to your parts master and shows up when your parts buyer keys in a part number in your system. This system must identify the rule. For example, if a part number is now obsolete because it is no longer manufactured but will still work on your trucks, the system needs to tell the buyer to use up the existing stock before buying the new part number. However, if the part is defective and has been replaced by a new one, the buyer needs to see that information when the part number is keyed in and so the bad inventory can be destroyed or returned.
So how do companies manage all of the “business rules”? It takes diligence and continual management and close communication with your suppliers to make sure they keep you informed of all parts changes. And it also requires a process to add this information into your fleet management system that everyone follows. Like most parts management processes, it is usually best to have one person in the company who is responsible for this process, and have them set up the systems and procedures.
While managing your parts master may sound daunting, when managed properly, your company will reduce unnecessary spending on parts, get better warranty compliance and lower your liability exposure. And that is all worth the effort.
Do you have a system in place that works for your company to keep track of superseded and obsolete parts? Let us know in the comment box below.