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On the Road

Watch: Truck parts inventory management can be easier than you think

David Sickels is the Associate Editor of Tire Review and Fleet Equipment magazines. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

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If your fleet tends to buy too many or too few truck parts, or if you have a tough time keeping track of warranties, implementing a truck parts inventory management system might be the cure.

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Here is a transcript of the video:

If your fleet runs its own shop, you likely know the challenges of staying on top of your truck parts inventory. Many shops now are finding that the easiest way to do this is by investing in parts inventory software, which helps to eliminate human error and old-school paper tracking from the equation.

One of the main advantages here is always knowing how much of each part you have. No more throwing money out the window stocking too many or not enough of certain parts, or not properly keeping track of what parts you have and which ones you don’t.

You’ll find many parts inventory software solutions include the option for automated inventory replenishment—meaning parts are automatically ordered when the inventory dips below a certain number. That number can be set by the shop, based on their typical usage of that part.

This allows you to specify minimum quantities on hand and warn you when they hit these levels, and this means you can keep lower stock levels for all of your parts, reducing your inventory carrying costs and inventory space.

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Now let’s talk warranty issues. When starting a repair, it’s important to know whether a given part is in warranty, because billing an in-warranty or out-of-warranty part improperly can lead to major headaches and unnecessary costs, both for the shop and the fleet.

Plus, technicians don’t always have access to all the information about when parts were last replaced or whether they are still under warranty. Most parts inventory systems can keep track of which parts are still under warranty to help make sure that everyone knows the warranty status of the parts being used from the start.

Once you have set up an inventory with proper minimums maximums and priority codes, ordering can become simplified. You’ll shift from determining lead-time days for specific vendors to space out your receiving instead of your ordering. This makes the time from shipping dock to shelf much more consistent, and reduces stress everywhere from the warehouse to the counter.

While not widely available today, developers of this type of software are working right now to integrate predictive analytics to identify what’s wrong with trucks days before they break down to help manage inventory and reduce downtime even more. Developers believe that the new way of the future will be to pre-order inventory based on the probability of failure or notification there’s something wrong with the truck in advance so parts can be ordered before the truck arrives, reducing downtime.

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Hopefully, in the next few years, as more smart trucks hit the roads and more data becomes available, predictive analytics will be more widely available.

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