MRO Inventory 101: The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Maintenance and Operations

An organization need to maintain a good stock of spare parts, equipment components, supplies and other miscellaneous items to ensure that its business is up and running. For instance, in an industrial setup, manufacturers need components and tools instantly whenever some emergency repair occurs without halting the production lines. Similarly, in smaller business setups such as retailers or service providers, inventory comprises of basic items like bulbs, switches, cleaning material, and other critical office accessories.

All the above items collectively refer to maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) inventory. Since these items form a major chunk of an organizational overall spend, it’s important to apply scientific MRO inventory management processes to ensure that an organization reduces costs, while maintaining an adequate stock (not less/not more), meeting their business needs. In the light of the above discussion, an MRO inventory management plays a critical role in various industries, ensuring smooth operations and efficient upkeep of equipment. This blog explores the nuances of MRO inventory, its significance in supply chain processes, associated challenges, and the role of a mobile MRO inventory management solution for effective inventory management.

Typical Examples of MRO Inventory

As discussed, MRO inventory encompasses all the materials and supplies necessary for the maintenance, repair, and operation of facilities, machinery, and infrastructure within an organization. Typical examples of MRO inventory items vary across industries but commonly include:

  • Spare Parts: Components that are essential for the repair or replacement of machinery and equipment, such as bearings, seals, belts, and valves.
  • Consumables: Items used regularly in operations, such as oils, greases, lubricants, cleaning solvents, and adhesives.
  • Safety Equipment: Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, ear plugs and face shields; fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and safety signage.
  • Tools: Hand tools, power tools, and specialized equipment required for maintenance tasks.
  • Maintenance Supplies: Paints, brushes, welding rods, and other materials necessary for upkeep and repair.
  • Miscellaneous cleaning supplies: Disinfectants, liquids, detergents, mops, buckets, brooms and disposable gloves.
  • Office inventory: Books, pens, pencils, personal computers, laptops, printers, furniture and more.
  • Laboratory supplies: Beakers, test tubes, syringes, chemicals and scales.

Must Read: MRO Software in Aerospace | Propel Apps

Role of MRO Inventory in Aerospace Supply Chain Processes

MRO inventory management is a broad-based term and comprises of four core processes: purchasing, storing, using and refilling the products that come under the MRO inventory. The goal of this MRO inventory management is to ensure that each of these processes are executed meticulously and efficiently, so as to ensure that the right stock is available in adequate quantities at the right time, while eliminating inventory wastages.

Hence, in the aerospace industry, MRO inventory management is crucial for ensuring the safety, reliability, and efficiency of aircraft operations. Aircraft maintenance requires meticulous planning and timely availability of parts and materials to minimize downtime and maintain regulatory compliance. The role of MRO inventory in aerospace includes:

  • Flight Safety: Ensuring that critical components like avionics, landing gear parts, and engine components are readily available to maintain aircraft airworthiness and safety.
  • Operational Continuity: Minimizing aircraft downtime by having the right parts in stock for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to stringent regulatory requirements regarding aircraft maintenance and parts certification.
  • Cost Management: Optimizing inventory levels to balance the costs of carrying inventory against the risks of stockouts and operational disruptions.

Importance of MRO Inventory

Effective MRO inventory management is essential for several reasons across industries:

Minimizing Downtime

Ready availability of critical parts reduces downtime for machinery and equipment, thereby enhancing productivity.

Optimizing Costs

Balancing inventory levels ensures that capital is not tied up unnecessarily while maintaining operational readiness.

Ensuring Safety and Compliance

Having the right parts and equipment on hand is crucial for maintaining safety standards and regulatory compliance.

Supporting Maintenance Operations

Facilitating smooth and efficient maintenance activities through timely availability of necessary resources.

MRO Inventory Challenges

Managing MRO inventory is no mean task and poses several challenges as follows:

High Purchasing costs

It is to be noted that companies purchase hundreds or even thousands of diverse MRO items, often of low in value. When an organization lacks a centralized purchasing mechanism, the cost of purchasing these individual items far exceeds the actual price of these items, leading to inventory losses.

Lack of co-ordination between individual departments

Though an organization may have a centralized purchasing process in place, often it is observed that individual departments purchase items at their own discretion without the knowledge of other departments. This could happen in scenarios where departmental managers need the supplies urgently, assuming that the centralized process may not fetch the required items quickly. Due to lack of co-ordination between individual departments and the centralized purchasing department, duplication of effort and inventory increases, leading to high purchase and storage costs.

Demand Forecasting

When an organization lacks a scientific approach of inventory management, it becomes difficult for it to accurately predict the demand for spare parts and consumables, especially for infrequently used items. This results in either overstocking, causing inventory wastage or obsolescence, or understocking, leading to production losses and poor customer satisfaction due to unavailable parts during breakdowns.

Inventory Optimization

A company may face the challenge of inventory optimization, which means balancing the need to maintain adequate stock levels against the costs of carrying inventory, including storage, insurance, and obsolescence. This could happen when an organization doesn’t have a fool-proof inventory management strategy or if the inventory tracking is mostly done through manual means.

Supplier Management

Another challenge faced by an organization is to deal with multiple suppliers and ensuring timely delivery of parts, while maintaining quality standards.

Data Accuracy

An organization that relies mostly on manual, paper-based inventory processes often face the challenge of maintaining the accurate inventory count or tracking the location or usage of inventory. Most of the manual processes are cumbersome and even an expert data-entry specialist may make errors in recording the inventory, leading to financial losses to an organization. When there is no proper tracking of inventory levels, usage patterns or procurement history, an organization’s top management may end up in poor decision making.

Also Read: 3 Critical Asset Maintenance Processes and a Mobile Solution

Components of MRO Inventory Management

Effective management of MRO inventory involves several key components such as:

Inventory Classification

This is an important component that involves categorizing the items based on criticality and usage frequency to prioritize procurement and storage efforts.

Demand Forecasting

Demand Forecasting assumes a lot of significance in MRO inventory management. Using the historical data, predictive analytics, and collaboration with stakeholders, an organization can forecast demand for MRO items.

Supplier Relationship Management

An organization that establishes strong relationships with reliable suppliers will ensure timely delivery, quality assurance, and competitive pricing.

Inventory Tracking and Reporting

For effective inventory tracking and reporting, an organization must implement systems for real-time monitoring of inventory levels, usage rates, and reorder points.

Lifecycle Management

Another component of MRO inventory management is to develop strategies for handling surplus, obsolete, or expired inventory through disposal, recycling, or redistribution.

How to Effectively Manage MRO Inventory?

To effectively manage MRO inventory, organizations can adopt the following strategies:

Utilize Inventory Management Software

With automation gaining ground in all spheres – professional or personal, it is high time that an organization, relying on manual processes should tend to adopt automation in its MRO inventory operations. This includes implementing specialized software for inventory tracking, demand forecasting, and procurement automation.

Establish Clear Policies and Procedures

An organization should develop a fool-proof MRO inventory management strategy that includes an execution plan, stakeholder expectations, anticipated benefits, and detailed procedures for each department. This also includes defining inventory management policies, including stock levels, reorder points, and procurement processes.

Implement Just-in-Time (JIT) Practices

Another good strategy to effectively manage MRO inventory is to implement JIT practices. By implementing this strategy, an organization can significantly enhance operational efficiency. JIT focuses on reducing inventory levels by aligning orders closely with actual consumption rates, thus minimizing excess stock and associated carrying costs. This approach ensures that the right parts are available precisely when needed, reducing downtime and enhancing productivity. It requires a robust supply chain system, reliable supplier relationships, and precise demand forecasting. By implementing JIT, organizations can optimize their inventory turnover, reduce waste, and improve cash flow. Additionally, it fosters a more responsive and agile maintenance system, contributing to overall operational excellence.

Conduct Regular Inventory Audits

An organization should establish a practice to conduct periodical audits to verify inventory accuracy, identify discrepancies, and prevent stockouts. This ensures that the inventory is properly accounted for, ensuring accuracy, and maintaining healthy inventory levels.

Employee Training

An organization should implement proper training programs and impart good inventory practices to its staff members responsible for inventory management to improve efficiency and accuracy.

Leverage MRO Inventory Management Software For Effective Inventory Management

As discussed earlier, automating the key processes of MRO inventory, while following the best practices goes a long way in optimizing an organization’s inventory life cycle. Towards this end, a good MRO inventory management software if leveraged to its fullest potential can work wonders for an organization. So, how does it benefit an organization? With an inventory management software, an organization can accurately forecast the inventory demand, while reducing costs and other mundane manual efforts. Apart from that, maintenance personnel can gain real-time insights into stock levels and track historical trends, allowing them to schedule orders to increase stock during high demand and minimize orders during off-peak times.

An MRO inventory software broadly refers to an ERP system – SAP or Oracle that automates the inventory processes of an organization. However, implementing such ERP systems is insufficient for on-the-go maintenance personnel, who are mostly confined in an organization’s production facilities and workshops. Hence, a mobile MRO solution that leverages the power of in-house, centralized ERP system is the need of the hour for industrial workforce for enhanced efficiency and productivity. In the next section, let’s understand some of the top benefits of a mobile MRO solution in effectively managing inventory in the aerospace industry:

Role of Mobile MRO Inventory Management Solution in Managing Inventory

Using the Mobile MRO inventory management solution, an organization can accrue the following benefits:

Generate Real-Time Updates

Enable field personnel to update inventory records, scan barcodes, and submit requests directly from remote locations.

Gain Instant Accessibility

Get instant access to inventory data and transaction history anytime, anywhere, facilitating informed decision-making and reducing response times.

Ensure Accuracy

Minimize manual errors through barcode scanning and automated data synchronization between mobile devices and central systems, thereby ensuring 100% accuracy.

Streamline Inventory Processes

Streamline inventory processes, such as receiving, picking, and issuing, to improve productivity and reduce cycle times.

Top Factors to Consider While Investing in a Right Mobile Inventory Management Solution

Choosing the right mobile MRO inventory management solution is crucial for optimizing inventory processes. This includes considering the following parameters as outlined below:

Seamless Integration

Ensure compatibility and integration with existing ERP systems and other software applications. This way, an organization’s field personnel can instantly access the ERP data anytime, anywhere, while instantly processing transactions on the go.


Invest on a solution that can scale with organizational growth and adapt to changing inventory management needs.


One of the important parameters that needs attention is the solution’s flexibility to customization, as each organization has its unique inventory and supply chain workflows. Therefore, the solution should include an option to customize its features to align with specific industry needs, such as aerospace compliance standards or regulatory reporting requirements.

Analytics and Reporting

A good mobile MRO inventory management solution should have built-in analytics tools to help gain insights into inventory trends, supplier performance, and cost analysis.

Offline Support

Since most of the maintenance personnel work in production facilities that are remotely located with poor internet connection, a mobile MRO solution that works offline is a boon for such personnel. This means, warehouse personnel can easily process transactions from their mobiles even if the internet is down, while the data gets synced to the backend ERP system once the connection gets restored.

User-Friendly Interface

A mobile inventory management solution that offers an intuitive, user-friendly interface is a preferred choice for an organization as it simplifies navigation and usability for all its stakeholders. This way, end-user training is minimized, while quickly enhancing the productivity of an organization’s workforce.

In the above context, explore Propel Apps’ mobile inventory management solution that offers several cutting-edge features to optimize and enhance the efficiency of your MRO inventory processes of your organization. Using this solution for Oracle and SAP ERP, your warehouse personnel can maintain the data, automate the inventory management and sync data to the main Oracle or SAP ERP system. This means your up-to-date inventory data is immediately available to your desktop and mobile users, enabling faster decision-making.

Final Thoughts

MRO inventory management is a multifaceted discipline that requires careful attention to detail, strategic planning, and the adoption of modern technologies to streamline operations and enhance overall efficiency. By implementing robust inventory management strategies, leveraging innovative software solutions, and prioritizing continuous improvement, organizations can mitigate challenges, reduce costs, and improve service levels for sustained success in managing MRO inventory effectively. Request a demo.

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