Is Materials Management the Missing Link from your Maintenance Effectiveness?

Jan 31, 2019 9:39:04 AM

So much effort is focused on the work management process and quality execution.  As maintenance professionals and asset managers, these things seem within our control.  But what about the supply chain?  Aren’t they responsible for Materials Management? 

Over the past few years, Bluefield has been asked by clients to perform our Bluefield Transformation process on numerous sites to help them improve their maintenance effectiveness.  Rightly, they ask us to focus on the workshop floor to improve the quality of maintenance execution, as well as reviewing their work management processes.  But time and time again a common gap appears – Materials Management. 

Ensuring spares are available and fit for purpose when needed is crucial to maintenance effectiveness.  It relies on having work management, quality execution and materials management functioning in unison.  What can we do differently to bridge the Materials Management gap? 


What if we apply the same tried and tested pipeline model to Materials Management principals, like we’re all familiar with for management of work? 


Bluefield’s Materials Management Process Model removes these fences.  It enables analysis of each of the key elements to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of an organisation’s Materials Management process.  The model reviews six key areas of materials management: 

  1. Planning & Inventory 
  2. Procurement & Logistics 
  3. Warehousing & Distribution 
  4. Operations & Maintenance 
  5. Returns, Repairs & Disposals 
  6. Performance Analysis 

Ownership of these functions does not rest solely with the supply chain.  It requires a partnership with the maintenance function.  How well do your maintenance and supply organisation perform and work together? 


Bluefield supports clients to improve their Materials Management in three main ways.  First is our Materials Management Process Assessment.  The assessment evaluates 33 key performance areas over the six elements against a range of set criteria, measuring performance against sustainable standards expected in the mining and resources sector.  It compliments our Work Management Process Assessment and Bluefield Transformation Process by identifying Materials Management performance gaps and improvement opportunities that align with a client’s aim to improve overall maintenance effectiveness.   

Second is in performing Critical Spares Analysis.  Many of our clients have turned to Bluefield to help identify their critical spares. Our approach is simple and practical. We have developed spare parts recommendations for new assets, as well as reviewed stocking strategies for well established organisations. 

Our process always starts with understanding what equipment failures will be high consequence, high-profile. We then evaluate these assets on their component parts in terms of cost, downtime impact, supply lead time, and other factors to enable a clear decision and reasoning for the spares stocking strategy. We tailor each task for the operating context of the site, and can incorporate the organisation’s risk management strategy into the analysis process. We can also help establish or integrate the spares criticality assessments into the materials management process. 

Finally, and most importantly, Bluefield aims to get Materials Management right from Day One by leading and managing Operational Readiness processes for our clients.  Operational Readiness allows us to perform Critical Spares Analyses at the start and work with vendors and project teams to optimise spares holdings and find cost savings.  We also look to set Materials Management processes up-front and integrate them with Work Management to ensure they work effectively. 

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll share some more about our work in the area of Materials Management, and importantly, the lessons we’ve learned to help our clients get more from assets.


By Matt Grant