Effective Parts Management

Using technology for better planning and control, and lowering costs

All of the company representatives suggest taking computerized inventory control programs and systems for a "spin" to get a feel for how they function.

"Software demonstrations are a good way to demonstrate the functional tools of a software solution," says TMW Systems' Walters. "Demonstrations should not only focus on the tool set available, but also on the benefits that will be achieved through proper implementation."

"Make sure the software will meet your needs during the demo," says Prophesy Transportation Solutions' Ashburn. "Ask questions ask specifically for demonstrations of the features that will fulfill your needs."

PMXpert Software Wruck's notes that obtaining software demonstrations is easier now than ever before. With web conferencing and online meeting services, "vendors can connect their computers to yours - and all of your colleagues - to demonstrate their applications over the Internet and from the comfort of your own computer station. No longer is there a need to incur time-consuming travel expenses as online demonstrations, which typically take about one hour, can be scheduled at your own convenience with very little advance notice.

"A proper software demonstration, from a legitimate software provider, is not and never should be a sales pitch from a sales person," emphasizes Wruck. "Instead, they are a two-way communication tool and an opportunity for the software provider to illustrate the application's features and functionality, and to gain a deeper understanding of your needs.

"Software trials are equally important and are especially effective after a software demonstration has been performed," he continues. "The demonstration appointment should also double as an entry-level training session, providing you with a basic level of understanding such that you should be able to navigate the product.

"Software trials help you gain a deeper understanding of how each software application works, whether or not they have the features you require and just how user-friendly they are in comparison to one another when considering multiple options."

Following the demos and trials, measure the programs against your considerations checklist, says Arsenault. Request proposals with costs and implementation processes/timetables, carefully evaluate all proposals, then make the selection.


"Less inventory is not better than having the correct amount of the correct parts on hand," Arsenault of Arsenault Associates concludes. "If you are not in control, someone else is, and your costs are out of control. Attain and deploy your parts inventory software once and let it do its job so you can focus on more important issues and exceptions."

"Overall vehicle cost of ownership is simply the accumulation of the shop labor and parts used to keep the vehicle in operation," adds Mallory of AutoPower Corporation. "Managing the repair and service cost during the life of the vehicle gives management the opportunity to decide when the vehicle should be retired. At some point it becomes more economical to trade-in the vehicle than to continue sinking additional repair cost into it.

"Using computer-based scheduling, service bay assignments, technician allocation and proper inventory levels can keep shops operating at higher efficiency with optimal labor cost utilization," he points out. "What's more, computerized inventory management, preferred part's sources, contracted part prices and generous core return privileges will quickly produce a more productive shop department."

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