Maintenance Q&As

What is MRO?

Answered November 05 2019

Maintenance, Repairs, and Operations (MRO) refers to any equipment or process used to keep a facility running.

Why is MRO important?

When considering supply chain costs, many businesses often fail to include MRO because these expenses do not overtly contribute to end products. Although MRO expenses might not seemingly contribute to new expenses, managing MRO costs effectively is absolutely vital to the long-term health of a business.

Why? By controlling MRO costs, you have the potential to reduce production expenses, even though it typically only accounts for 6% to 10% of a company’s total spend. It does so by:

  • Decreasing costly equipment downtime
  • Improving the efficiency of operations
  • Ensuring safety in the workplace

For example, a food packing plant that keeps on top of its MRO expenses and practices will likely experience fewer equipment breakdowns. If breakdowns occur, the company will be more likely to have the right replacement parts on hand and will have streamlined processes for getting equipment back up and running quickly and efficiently.

What kind of equipment is used in MRO?

Any equipment used to keep machines, buildings, and offices running smoothly would fall under MRO. A few examples of MRO supplies and equipment are:

  • Safety equipment, like hard hats, gloves, and goggles
  • Batteries
  • Lubricant
  • Fuel for vehicles
  • Office supplies
  • Tools, such as hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies, including mops, floor buffers, disinfectant spray, etc.
  • Computer systems and IT
  • Replacement parts
  • Maintenance management software, such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) programs

Note: Having the right inventory on hand is key to MRO management—if you find you have the wrong part in stock, your maintenance processes will be less effective, and you’ll have much longer downtimes when repairs are needed.

Which team members work on MRO?

MRO not only involves supplies and equipment, but it also includes both internal team members and external contractors responsible for keeping a company operating smoothly.

The maintenance department, typically composed of maintenance technicians, supervisors, and managers, is primarily responsible for MRO processes, procedures and expenditures. This team routinely manages preventive, corrective, and predictive maintenance plans, which can include collecting and assigning work orders, scheduling maintenance tasks based on time or usage, and managing programs like reliability-centered maintenance.

Companies may also use third-party contractors for other MRO tasks such as janitorial needs or landscaping. The expenses associated with these services also fall under MRO. Typically, the supply chain teams responsible for procurement will create an MRO purchasing strategy and negotiate long-term contracts with cost savings in mind.

Benefits of Good MRO Processes

Maintaining proper MRO processes can be advantageous to a business in many ways.

Decrease Downtime

A well-managed MRO program will help keep your machines and systems running dependably and smoothly. Maintenance can be scheduled between shifts or at the end of production runs, minimizing or eliminating breakdowns, unexpected downtime, and idle workers. Ultimately, this results in higher production rates and increased profits.

Improve Employee Safety

When assets are well-maintained and work areas are organized, safety hazards are addressed and eliminated. This leads to a decrease in accidents, injuries, and other safety incidents.

Reduce Repair Times

When spare parts, tools, and other supplies are available and organized, the amount of time a maintenance task or repair takes will drop. In many cases, CMMS solutions can help organizations plan the order of maintenance tasks to reduce travel between assets or locations, increasing efficiency further.

Note: Wrench time (i.e. time technicians actually spend working on equipment) tends to average between 25% to 30%. Good MRO management can increase that to over 50%.

What Are Types of MRO Maintenance?

MRO includes many different kinds of maintenance and management processes. Many production and manufacturing companies use one or more of the following types of maintenance.

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance utilizes sensors and other advanced technology to monitor different equipment conditions such as temperature, humidity, mileage, and so forth. You can set acceptable ranges for these factors, and when an asset falls out of range, an automated notification can be sent to a centralized system. These factors can help you “predict” when an asset is in danger of failing, so that action can be taken before the breakdown occurs.

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance typically involves regularly scheduling maintenance tasks based on time or hours used. Tasks such as lubrication, adjustments, tightening, and visual inspections are designed to keep equipment in good working order, as well as potentially “catch” problems before they result in downtime.

Tip: When planning preventive maintenance, it’s possible to over-maintain assets, meaning preventative tasks are performed too frequently.

Corrective maintenance

Corrective maintenance is often referred to as reactive maintenance and may include emergency maintenance as well. These tasks are performed only when equipment breaks down. Although there are situations where corrective maintenance is the best solution, it is often a costly alternative.

Tip: Corrective maintenance works well when an asset is low risk, low impact, or very old.

Condition-based maintenance

Condition-based maintenance is a bit like predictive maintenance and tends to use tools like sensors as well. However, in condition-based maintenance, the condition of the equipment determines when work requests are initiated.

Total productive maintenance

Total productive maintenance (TPM) is a more comprehensive program that involves multiple departments. For example, operators are responsible for cleaning machines during and after a shift. Maintenance managers, on the other hand, are in charge of purchasing, IT, and other areas to create best practices and budgets.

Inventory management

Inventory management is critical to maintenance, repairs, and operations because having the right items on hand where they can be located easily is important to efficiently completing tasks. MRO inventories need to be kept well-stocked, but well-managed to avoid waste. Companies may rely on a CMMS or other inventory management software to help.

Workflow management

Having a system in place to manage daily workflow for maintenance operators contributes to better MRO. The management team should work to remove any obstacles, provide adequate and ongoing training, and use planning and scheduling software to help many each day run efficiently.

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