Mastering Maintenance Operations: The Crucial Role of Inventory Management and Critical Spares

SSG Insight
  • Published date: 7 February 2024
  • Author: SSG Insight

“We need this critical part and have no idea if we have one!” A moment that every maintenance engineer dreads, not having a vital spare that could mean the difference between operations continuing as normal or stopping. 

It’s an ongoing issue that we’ve heard repeatedly over the last 40 years in the industry and it is something we will explore in this article. Inventory Management plays a pivotal role including the significance of critical spares stock, and is a key component of Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO).

Why Inventory Management Matters in Maintenance 

Effective inventory management is the backbone of successful maintenance operations. It goes beyond merely stockpiling of spare parts; it’s about strategically optimising resources to minimise downtime, control costs, and ensure the longevity of equipment. On the other hand, it is essential to manage inventory levels to ensure stock is not wasted. The ability to track maintenance levels and parts usage will support you to understand what parts you need to have more of, and which you can reduce extra stock levels. 

Critical Spares: Safeguarding Against Downtime 

Critical spares are the unsung heroes of maintenance for several different reasons. Critical spares refer to specific components that can make the difference between a swift repair and prolonged downtime. It is crucial to determine which parts are critical for your assets, to ensure you maintain reliable and efficient maintenance operations. 

Top Tips for Proactive Inventory Management 

1. Create an Effective Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Strategy: 

Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) refers to the activities, processes, and inventory associated with the upkeep and repair of assets and facilities. It is crucial to have a plan that includes planned, preventive and corrective maintenance, emergency repairs, operational support, and inventory management. MRO activities generate significant amounts of data, which a CMMS or EAM can store, and analysis of this data will lead to more informed decision making and improve overall efficiencies. 

2. Invest in Digital Solutions: 

Explore advanced CMMS and EAM software to automate and streamline your operations. It is important to keep in mind that implementing a software solution is an investment and will bring many benefits beyond effective inventory management. 

3. Define Clear Procedures: 

Establish transparent stock entry procedures to ensure accuracy and consistency in data entry. It is crucial that team members are aware of the correct procedures of issuing and returning spare parts to reduce the chances of unplanned downtime. 

4. Optimise Reporting Features: 

Leverage reporting features in your CMMS to gain insights into stock levels, receipts, and other critical metrics. Analysing this data provides valuable insights to back data-driven decisions, helping to optimise stock levels. 


How does Agility support with inventory management? 

Agility obtains key features that can support with efficient inventory management, including but not limited to cost tracking, multi-site management, and condition-based monitoring. Agility provides a comprehensive and organised database of spare parts and critical spare parts, giving you clear visibility of your stock levels and helping reduce waste. 

Agility also provides a platform for creating and managing purchase orders, which is further supported by our integration capabilities. Triggers can be set within the system to automatically create a purchase order when stock reaches the minimum threshold, ensuring stock levels are maintained and parts will be available as and when they are needed. Whether your operations run across one site, or multiple sites, parts can be issued and returned efficiently to always ensure availability. Connect critical parts with specific assets to keep your maintenance teams (including across multiple sites) informed of what they need to book out to complete a job.  

Usage costs, along with the cost spent on parts can be monitored, to identify trends in parts that require high levels of maintenance and any equipment that have high usage costs to detect anomalies. This data can be used to support maintenance KPIs such as Cost Variance and Maintenance Costs as a Percentage of Estimated Replacement Value. One customer spoke about their experience with Agility, stating “Agility has provided us with an even clearer picture of spend on parts which enabled improvement to our order processes. Thanks to Agility, we’ve seen our parts spend reduced by over £60K per year”. Another Agility user explained that they realised the need for a CMMS due to a critical spare part not being in stock, worth 70p, that resulted in downtime costing the organisation £1 million. 


In conclusion, a well-executed inventory management strategy, which includes critical spares and efficient stock tracking, is essential for successful maintenance operations. Embracing these tips and practices will support you to minimise downtime and control costs whilst enhancing overall operational efficiency. 

If you would like to understand more about how Agility can support you with enhanced inventory management and operational efficiency, get in touch at and a member of the team will be in touch.

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