Having the proper parts in inventory when a truck needs maintenance service or a repair has always been important. However, in the past when you needed part overnight or in a matter of hours, proper inventory management was not as critical.
Now with parts deliveries stretching out to days or weeks, not having the right parts in your inventory could spell disaster, especially when you consider that a day of downtime costs a fleet $800 to $1,000, and that does not factor in the loss of goodwill from both customers and drivers.
See also: Getting creative with parts management
Proper inventory management starts with having information about the maintenance and repair history of each asset in your fleet. You want to be able to look at the data for each asset individually but also be able to look at trends across asset classes. Make sure you have information on make, model, year, engine type, miles driven, etc. Also, make sure you collect the data in a consistent manner so you can do an accurate analysis of your needs.
This information makes it easier to predict stocking levels for wearable items like filters, brakes, lubricants, tires, and so on. However, you also need to pay attention to repairs that are occurring between PM services and on-the-road repairs to see what you can learn from them. It is harder to predict how many of these breakable parts to keep on hand, but collecting data on all maintenance and repair should allow you to spot trends and stock parts accordingly.
Especially in today’s environment, make note of lead times from the time you order the part to the time it will be delivered. You may have to place parts orders much earlier than you traditionally have in order to ensure you have them in stock when you need them. You should also consider carrying more inventory to avoid stock outs. Now would be a good time to review minimum stocking levels and adjust them accordingly.
This is also a time to reinforce your relationship with your existing part vendors. Set up meetings with them to review your parts needs and to see what advice they have on what you should do to ensure you have the parts you need when you need them. Your suppliers should be willing to give you insight into the inventory across all their locations so you can see exactly what parts they have in stock. In addition, seek out new vendors that give you more options for locating needed parts. Don’t forget to check out online sellers of truck and trailer parts as another option.
When it comes to inventory management, it is not a “one and done” project. Review your maintenance and repair records on a regular basis so you can see how your parts needs have changed and you can adjust your ordering accordingly. There is not much you can do to eliminate the shortages caused by supply chain issues, but there are steps you can take to gain more control over your inventory.
David Seewack is the founder and CEO of FinditParts. Seewack is focused on transforming how heavy-duty truck and trailer parts are bought and sold. Founded in 2010, FinditParts is the No. 1 supplier of these parts online, with more than 10 million available from more than 1,800 manufacturers and customers in over 210 countries.