So often in maintenance, it’s up to you to accommodate other people’s decisions. Need access to the line? Work around the production schedule. Want to replace an ancient water heater? Wait for room to open in next year’s budget. But with the maintenance storeroom, you’re in charge — from the physical layout of the shelves to how you organize the parts on them.
By following simple steps and best practices, you can have a space that supports the maintenance team with improved inventory control and higher overall efficiency.
What is the definition of an organized maintenance storeroom?
The storeroom is where you keep your parts and tools, the critical components the maintenance team needs to keep assets and equipment up and running. By setting it up properly, you can increase overall productivity. Remember, your techs spend 18% of the typical day looking for parts and up to 26% of their time moving between job sites.
By focusing on location in the storeroom and everything inside it, techs can locate parts faster and close out work orders more efficiently.
Getting started doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, your storeroom management best practices can focus on just three characteristics:
Safety is the first step for storerooms
And safety starts with being neat and organized. Make sure you keep the storeroom floors clean. Even something as simple as plastic packaging from a small part can be a tripping hazard. When people are carrying boxes, it’s harder for them to see what’s in front of their feet. Encourage techs to keep the place clean with easy-to-find brooms, dustpans, and garbage cans.
As a general rule, keep heavier items on lower shelves. Use the top shelves for only items that are both light and rarely used. Steps and ladders should be in good repair and the right size for the shelf height and the aisle width.
You can help reduce the risk of fire by keeping any flammable materials away from sources of heat. For flammable liquids, make sure you are up to code for safe storage.
It varies between jurisdictions, but you likely need special cabinets and can only store a limited amount in each. There are also often requirements for ventilation, wiring, and fire resistance ratings for the walls and ceilings.
For all chemicals, make sure the packaging contains information on safe handling and what to do in the case of accidental spills or exposure.
Storeroom success means being smooth
Smooth just means you have the physical layout set up so every aspect of inventory control, from restocking to picking and kitting, is easy and techs can get what they need quickly.
Put your storeroom close to the action
Start by thinking about the storeroom’s location. If you have techs working throughout the facility, it might make sense to have the storeroom somewhere closer to the center. In a manufacturing plant, though, it’s better to have the storeroom close to the production lines.
All other things being equal, you might want to be close to receiving and shipping, so it’s easier getting in new parts and materials and sending out broken parts for third-party repairs. It’s not that there’s a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s that there’s an answer that works best for your technicians.
Divide the storeroom by workflows
Once you know where to put the storeroom, you need to think about where you put everything inside of it. Just like when laying out any other space, you should start by making a list of your most common workflows, including:
- Inspecting and receiving
- Stocking and storing
- Picking and kitting
- Packing and shipping
You also need a secure spot for quarantined parts, such as a cage inside the storeroom you can lock. The goal is to keep bad and broken parts and materials out of circulation until you can deal with them properly. For example, a tech returns a power tool with a look cord. Or a box of the wrong size screws arrives from a supplier.
Organize parts and materials by distance to the door and then the floor
There’s more than one school of thought when it comes to how you should organize your parts and materials inside the storeroom. There are many ways you can do it, but people tend to choose between grouping according to:
There are pros and cons to each system. When you put all the parts and materials for a specific asset together in the storeroom, you can find them quickly in an emergency. It also helps when you’re doing a big project related to a single asset.
Everything you need is right there where you can grab it quickly. But what you gain in speed you give up in space. It’s harder to get all those different parts to fit nicely on the shelves.
Frequency is popular because it makes the day-to-day faster. Keeping your most common parts and materials up close to the door means faster restocking and picking. Techs are in and out in the smallest number of steps possible. It also concentrates activity into a smaller space, so when it’s busy, you have techs getting in one another’s way.
Many organizations set up their storerooms like supermarkets with similar items together. At the store, you have the bakery, meat, diary, and frozen pizza sections.
In the maintenance storeroom, hand tools, power tools, lubricants, and fan belts all have their own areas, for example. It makes sense, and just like you can find items in the supermarket without knowing the exact barcode numbers, techs can locate parts by navigating to the right aisle.
The main drawback to this system is that similar parts can become mixed together. If you have all your plumbing elbow joints in open boxes beside one another, a tech who grabs the wrong size might toss it back into the wrong box.
Regardless of the system you use, you should keep heavier items on lower shelves for safety.
Security protects your investments in parts and processes
Parts and materials are a significant investment and a large slice of the maintenance management budget. Restricting access to the storeroom cuts down on shrinkage, employee theft, saving you time and money.
Better security can also help you keep more accurate counts on your stock levels. When fewer people have access to the storeroom, it’s easier to ensure the ones that do also have the right training and understand the importance of tracking parts.
By setting up your storeroom so you can stock, count, and pick parts and materials efficiently, you can maximize your techs’ time on wrench. The less time they spend getting parts, the more time they have for closing out work orders.
Your storeroom should be safe, smooth, and secure. Be sure to follow all best practices and local regulations for storing and handling dangerous materials. Where you put your storeroom can be as important as where you put things inside it. When grouping parts and materials, you can choose between grouping them by asset, frequency, or type.
Regardless of how you set up your storeroom, make sure it’s secure. The more control you have over access, the easier it is to protect your investment and keep accurate counts.