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An MRO for the unrefurbished: How to build a spares strategy in manufacturing that includes unrefurbished parts

They are not drop in ready spares, but the include parts that co

Many publications exist on spare strategies that enable the cliche that states to have the right part, in the right condition, and at the right time. With efficient algorithmic modeling that evaluates lead times, inventory turns, and sprinkles with a few rules written by Dr. Lloyd S. Nelson, you can quickly establish an optimum MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operating supplies) strategy through all market and reliability conditions. But is this the most efficient and cost strategy?

What do you do with unrefurbished spares?

But what do you do with the "unrefurbishable" spare that could be piecemealed to rebuild something else? What do you do with the gearbox that endured a catastrophic failure, but a rebuild is justified in an emergency? What do you do with the removed switchgear from a recent upgrade that includes miscellaneous parts and cabinetry needed on a Friday afternoon?

What do you do with a cylinder that is not cost-effective to refurbish but has sub-components, such as a clevis or bushing, that could be the cheapest option in the next rebuild? What do you do when asked if you want to refurbish a spare at a minimal cost, even though you have plenty of inventory? In this blog, I want to explore how to establish a secondary MRO inventory called MROC. It is the inventory categorized as Maintenance, Repair, and Operational Carnage.

An MRO for the unrefurbished

Certainly, the inclusion of bone-pile or spare storage facilities with unrefurbisbable spares adds another layer of complexity to the MRO storeroom setup, housekeeping, and 5S principles. Consider an operating unit with hundreds of practically disposable 3/8 horse right angle gearboxes and motors running $1700 each new. Consider a scenario where you rebuild ~25 per year for a facility, and the gearboxes have about a half dozen failure modes. A bone pile of the failed assemblies, the carcasses, can continuously be leveraged to cheaply rebuild the spare and place a spare back on the shelf as good as new. But the pile can quickly look like a garbage pile that should be scrapped.

How to build an MRO for unrefurbished spares

If this is something you desire and applies to your operations, consider these steps to integrate the storage of unrefurbishable spares into an MROC plan within your MRO.


  1. Identify what will be kept - Identifying what goes into your MROC inventory is critical because you do not want to save everything. MRO leaders should manage these decisions with a decision-making matrix indicating what is kept versus disposed of. An MROC is not a junk drawer of an endless budget that can manage a non-moving inventory into infinity.

  2. Prioritize stripping down versus storing - Prioritizing stripping down usable components is more cost-effective than storing the entire "unrefurbishable" spare. However, in some cases, this is not always true. 

  3. Identify how it will be categorized - Identifying what is in the MROC inventory starts with similar identifications already in place for your existing MRO. Consider using the unique identification for the component but with a suffix such as C (C is for carnage and not cookie) to indicate that it is unrefurbishable. If you had a gearbox with a unique identifier of 123456, consider identifying the unrefurbishable version as 123456C. Most CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) can support an alphanumeric string as the unique identifier. Remember that each 123456C is not identical but a grab bag.

  4. Dedicate a storage area - An allocated area within the storeroom or facility for storing the unrefurbishable spares is critical. This area should not be comingled with drop-in-ready spares because the unrefurbishable spares are not drop-in-ready. This storeroom should have the same level of organization as your existing storeroom and have the same levels of security. Be extra cautious not to store the material in random locations all over a facility. Keeping it centralized 

  5. Commit to storage containers: If you split an unrefurbishable gearbox to get a bearing retainer off the input pinion to rebuild another gearbox, do not stress putting it back together. On occasion, you may want to protect the sub-components from oxidizing by reassembling. However, the objective is to keep the disassembled sub-components in the storage container. 

  6. Disposal Procedures: Keep an eye on what meat is left on the bone of the spare. If you get down to sub-components of no value, throw them away. The aesthetics of throwing discarding when there is no value left is critical for leadership to encourage the value of an MROC. If MRO keeps everything, the MROC concept enables hoarding and distrust in the overarching MRO strategies. 

Build your MROC

By incorporating these MROC discipline steps into your storeroom setup, you can effectively manage the existing MRO with an MROC of unrefurbishable spares. Following these steps ensures that your assets run smoothly and cost-effectively while maintaining your MRO mission to have the right part, in the right condition, and at the right time


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