In industries like manufacturing, construction, and transportation, where the delivery of spare parts is crucial for uninterrupted operations, adopting new technology is vital. These technologies are critical for the maintenance and repair of industrial equipment and machinery to keep these assets in good condition and prevent unplanned downtime.
In this article, we will explore five emerging MRO spare parts trends that will impact maintenance. It’s important to keep current with these trends because they increase efficiency, improve quality, reduce costs, and keep machines running.
Trend one: Increased use of predictive analytics
Analytics removes any unpredictability or guessing games when it comes to maintenance. That’s because the data used in analytics programs is based on real-time information, so you aren’t basing things like inventory levels on arbitrary quantities and numbers. It uses data and analytics tools to forecast equipment failure and determine when maintenance is required, making it easier to predict when and what type of spare parts to keep on hand.
For example, a maintenance team can optimize spare parts inventory by analyzing data on equipment usage and failure rates using machine learning. The machine learning tools can use this information to identify the types of failures and repairs that are most likely to occur on a piece of equipment. That information can then be used to plan what spare parts are needed in the future and ensure they’re always in stock.
Trend two: Digital twin technology
A digital twin is a digital copy of any real-world process, system, or asset. Digital twins can be used to replicate a process or part and be used for digital simulations and testing, so you can start solving your biggest maintenance challenges.
Maintenance teams can use these tests to understand how different conditions and factors affect equipment performance, and how to plan for asset failure.
For example, let’s say you run a digital twin simulation on a conveyor belt 100 times, using factors that could cause a potential breakdown of parts. The simulations showed for every ten simulations, three of them led to a need for repair and replacement of a the conveyor belt part, and one out of every 70 simulations led to the conveyor belt to be completely replaced.
This information is useful for spare parts inventory because it gives you a real-life threshold of how many, how often, and what parts you need to have on hand for each asset.
Trend three: Robotics and automation
We hear how industries outside of maintenance are taking advantage of AI and robotics, but we don’t often hear a lot about them changing maintenance. Spare parts distributors and large maintenance facilities are using the help of automation and robots to ease their labor requirements and improve their order fulfillment accuracy.
Manufacturers might want to consider installing robotic automation in their parts distribution warehouses as spare parts range in size and weight, and robots can help you do the heavy lifting, literally.
Trend four: Cybersecurity
When we talk about cybersecurity and spare parts, we aren’t just talking about a hacker getting into the company email— we’re talking about the total protection of all digital assets, systems, and equipment from unauthorized access, theft, damage, and disruption.
The increased adoption of digital technology across the maintenance industry has also made it vulnerable to cyberattacks that could result in significant costs, downtime, and damage.
Luckily, most maintenance software comes with firewalls, encryption, access controls, and security measures to stop these attacks. Maintenance managers will want to train their employees to recognize and report any suspicious activity and have a response plan in place.
For example, let’s say you’re responsible for ordering parts from a supplier you have been using for years. One day, the ’supplier’ sends you an email notifying you of an outstanding bill. The email contains a link to a website that prompts you to fill out your company’s payment information. If you aren’t careful to verify the email address, or the sender information, filling out that form could open you up to a cyberattack.
Trend five: Growth of 3D printing
3D printing has come a long way. Today, it’s possible to build complex 3D components using various materials like plastic, cement, metal, and even fiberglass. Organizations across the manufacturing sector have taken note of the capabilities of using 3D printing and have even use it to produce things like bicycle frames, car parts, plastic containers, houses, and so many more things.
Using a 3D image and a pattern, layers of your chosen material are fused together using lasers. This technology is extremely valuable as parts can be printed as needed and in half the time it takes to order and ship the part from the manufacturer. This will lead to several reductions in cost, repair time, carrying costs, and an increase in service levels.
Replacement components will be printed on-site in a fraction of the time it takes to order and ship the part from the manufacturer. 3D printing will be extremely valuable for remote locations that have to wait days for spare parts. There will come a time when every storeroom will have a 3D printer and access to a library of 3D plans to rapidly print the parts they need, when, and only when, they are necessary.
On-demand spare parts – the future of MRO spare parts
These five trends are revolutionizing the MRO spare parts industry, providing significant benefits to organizations that adopt them, such as reduced inventory carrying costs, time savings, and increased service levels. By leveraging these trends, organizations can ensure their maintenance teams are well-equipped to keep equipment running smoothly and efficiently.