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Automating PARTS MANAGEMENT Makes Sense

8 May, 2008 By: Rob Sombach, Nexent Innovations imageSource

Automating PARTS MANAGEMENT Makes Sense

Service technicians need ready access to the right parts to be effective. But
an overstocked warehouse can be money down the drain. A balance between parts
supply and demand is key–a balance easily achieved through automation software
geared to copier company needs.


A good automated system will maintain an up-to-date spare parts inventory –
both for the warehouse and individual van/track usage trends, monitor supply for
optimal levels and ensure proper billing for every part used.

This indeed has been the experience of Quality Document Solutions Inc., an
authorized Xerox dealership based in Odessa, Texas, that uses an automation
software system  (Miracle ServiceTM) to manage its field services, including
inventory. The results, says the company's president, Tommy McCrury, have been
reduced inventory costs, increased first-call effectiveness, and improved
overall profitability.      

Keeping Track

“Using a good automation system has enabled us to maintain tight stock
control,” McCrury says. "Now, we know at all times where our parts are, and
where our technicians can quickly get the parts they need."  The System keeps
track of optimal stock levels in each van, according to the specialties of the
individual technician.

"It's then easy to locate a required part in someone else's van if the
technician doesn't have it in his own, "McCrury says . "When one of our techs
reports any usage of parts, the system notes the need to replenish these items.
And effective tracking promotes greater accountability. Our technicians are more
aware of the stock in their vehicles, are less likely to lose sight of any item
and, overall, take more ownership for the inventory under their control. Another
big plus is that invoicing for every part used during a service call is also
automated. That way our technicians can focus on what they do best – customer
service – and we don't lose revenue because of billing errors."

An automated system works proactively too, tracking which spare parts are
included or excluded in each different type of service contract, helping ensure
the company receives all revenue due.

Powerful analytical tools

Tracking parts usage helps maximize productivity, says Ralph Nappe. Nappe is
Director of the National Technical Service Group at The Printer Source, a
Connecticut-based company. He points out that statistical reports generated by
automated software enables him to determine the ratio of parts usage to call
volume for each of his technicians. Low parts usage combined with high call
volume equals productivity, Nappe says. But technicians whose parts usage is too
high are working inefficiently. Finding the "weak link" allows the company to
address the problem through skills improvement of the technician in question.

Data analyses also helps achieve optimal inventory balance with a report that
shows inventory movement over time, and will recommend minimum/maximum
adjustments. Suppose a certain part is rarely needed, or needed so often that
rush orders to the supplier become a regular (and expensive) occurrence.  Having
such information at your fingertips allows you to identify both supply gaps and
overstocked obsolete items. Purchasing becomes more rational, while excess items
can be returned to the OEM within the allowable return window. Such information
also ensures that specialized technicians carry just the parts they need for the
machines that they service. Wastage is reduced and cost kept down.

Boosting first-call resolution

Lack of the right part is a major reason for rescheduling a service call.
Automated inventory management eliminates this in two ways: 1) by monitoring
vehicle stock kits and helping make necessary readjustments; and 2) by providing
analyses on rescheduling trends and parts usage that enables the company to be

"With reporting that shows us exactly what our customers are buying, we are
able to determine future requirements and stay ahead of customer needs," says

All these features help to ensure that technicians have what they need for
each service call, resulting in greater first-call resolution and more satisfied
customers. And this, of course, translates into profit. Companies throughout
North America, therefore, are discovering that a data-driven parts management
system will pay for itself many times over.

Automating your inventory management can:

  • Improve supply planning
  • Ensure consistent availability of parts
  • Reduce inventory investments
  • Achieve higher parts-related revenues
  • Improve technician productivity
  • Boost customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Increase profits

Rob Sombach is VP of Development of Nexent Innovations Inc., a provider of
Miracle Service™ and Service Accent™ field service software with thousands of
users in over 44 countries. To contact:

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