Q. We have been using parts kitting for years. Maintenance personnel say it helps, but when we kit parts for jobs, we disperse them when the kit is assembled because we are taking them out of inventory. Due to unplanned breakdowns our system shows we do not have certain parts that are in kits. What is the best practice?
A. First of all, congratulations on developing kits. It’s absolutely a best practice for improving maintenance productivity by reducing wait time at the parts window and allowing more “wrench” time. As with any system, there is a learning curve, so don't feel like the Lone Ranger; others are wrestling with the same issue.
The key benefit of kitting is ensuring that parts are available when the work is to be executed. Although we all want to aspire to a totally predictive/productive maintenance process, the first priority is to make sure you have the parts on hand for any downtime, planned or unplanned. To that end, you have the responsibility to kit up the parts needed for planned work. From an accounting perspective, you should check the parts out and charge it to the department when it is actually used. Call it cash rather than accrual accounting, and I agree with it.
When you assemble a parts kit, you should broadcast to your planner that the complete list is available with the caveat that, if a major breakdown occurs, a particular part may be unavailable because it was taken out of the kit and used for an unanticipated breakdown. This action will cause you to broadcast that this kit is no longer available for scheduled work, and the planner will have to adjust his work schedule. It’s essential that the planner is kept in the loop on a part’s usage because of the impact on his planned work.
In most cases, the problems that occur are related to the processes used and not the people that execute them. People want to do the right thing, but your systems and processes need to adequately reflect what the needs of the organization are. Review your processes to make sure the results you get reflect what you want from your people.