What Is MRO? An Introduction to Maintenance, Repair & Operations

What Is MRO (and What Does MRO stand for)?

The term MRO stands for Maintenance, Repair and Operations, although some maintenance professionals refer to it as Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul. Whichever iteration your organization uses, the meaning remains the same, it encompasses all the tasks that the maintenance crew performs to keep the equipment in your plant operational. MRO ultimately allows for your business operations to run smoothly. 

Examples of MRO include industrial equipment (pumps, motors, etc.), cleaning supplies and office supplies, as well as maintenance supplies like gaskets and repair tools. Supply chain materials can also account for dozens of subcategories under MRO. 

Note: Having the right inventory on hand is key to MRO management—if you find you have the wrong part in stock, your maintenance processes will be less effective, and you’ll have much longer downtimes when repairs are needed.

Types of MRO 

The broad scope of MRO activities can usually be summed up into four categories. Let’s take a look at each below:

Infrastructure Repair and Maintenance

The infrastructure of your facility includes both the physical structure (the roof, doors and windows, parking lot), and the systems that serve it (HVAC, electrical and lighting, plumbing, and landscaping). The work you do to keep them in good condition is known as infrastructure repair and maintenance. You can achieve infrastructure repair and maintenance in various ways and it often depends on whether you own or lease the facility. You can hire third-party companies to handle maintenance like roofing issues, or enlist internal personnel to complete the job. 

Production Equipment Repair and Maintenance

This includes the maintenance of the assets and machinery directly responsible for the production of your goods and services. The wear and tear of equipment over time can cause unscheduled downtime, delays and malfunctioning, which then results in unnecessary expenses. The goal of this type of MRO is to keep these equipment up and running so that there is no disruption in production. It includes activities such as routine and emergency maintenance, replacement parts inventory management, regularly monitoring the condition of your equipment and supplier management. For some plants or machinery, proactive maintenance strategies such as predictive and preventive maintenance can significantly improve an asset's availability, uptime and reliability. 

Material Handling Equipment Maintenance

Your business’ raw materials and other assorted supplies need to be transported to and from the production line, while finished products need to make it to the loading bays before they are eventually shipped out to your customers. Keeping the tools that play a role in getting this job done falls under this type of MRO and helps to reduce or eliminate idle time. Some of them include forklifts, pallet positioners, storage systems, conveyor belts, vehicles, and robotic arms . 

Tooling and Consumables

Tooling and consumables typically consist of powered and manual hand tools; consumable items like adhesives, cleaning, and welding supplies; personal protective equipment; janitorial tools; and floor mats. Because these tools are typically small and not used often, proper management is required to keep them from getting lost.

What Are the Benefits of MRO?

A strong MRO plan will positively affect almost every part of your facility. MRO helps decrease expenses and downtime while improving safety, which in turn improves your overall output, efficiency, and profit. Here are three of the most critical benefits of implementing MRO practices at your company. 

Learn how Asset Operations Management—which eliminates all barriers between teams to facilitate the sharing of data—will make the future of MRO brighter. Download our white paper today!  

Decrease Downtime

A well-managed MRO program will help keep your machines and systems running dependably and smoothly. Maintenance can be scheduled between shifts or at the end of production runs, minimizing or eliminating breakdowns, unexpected downtime, and idle workers. Ultimately, this results in higher production rates and increased profits.

Improve Employee Safety

When assets are well-maintained and work areas are organized, safety hazards are addressed and eliminated. This leads to a decrease in accidents, injuries, and other safety incidents.

Reduce Repair Times

When spare parts, tools, and other supplies are available and organized, the amount of time a maintenance task or repair takes will drop. In many cases, AOM solutions can help organizations plan the order of maintenance tasks to reduce travel between assets or locations, increasing efficiency further.

Note: Wrench time (i.e. time technicians actually spend working on equipment) tends to average between 25% to 30%. Good MRO management can increase that to over 50%.

What Do MRO Professionals Do?

MRO not only involves supplies and equipment, but it also includes both the internal team members and external contractors responsible for keeping a company operating.

The maintenance department, typically composed of maintenance technicians, supervisors, and managers, is primarily responsible for MRO processes, procedures, and expenditures. This team routinely manages preventive, corrective, and predictive maintenance plans, which can include collecting and assigning work orders, scheduling maintenance tasks based on time or usage, and managing programs like reliability-centered maintenance.

Additionally, larger organizations with more complex MRO needs may opt to divide their MRO responsibilities among the following roles: 

Procurement Officers

They should have a deep understanding and experience working with organizational items. Procurement officers also assess suppliers, products, and services in order to negotiate the sales contracts to get high-quality, yet cost-effective, MRO products.

Supplier Relationship Managers 

Supplier relationship managers work to keep all links in the chain strong and reliable, so your business always has the most vital MRO items at the lowest possible price. Through research, prioritizing, and purchase order arrangements, they ensure that your company always has the supplies required to meet customer needs. 

Inventory Managers

Running out of supplies is a problem, but so is spending money on materials that go unused. Inventory managers make sure there is a good balance of all supplies, as well as sufficient spare parts for preventive and corrective maintenance, as needed. They also evaluate the purchase cadence of supplies that aren’t used as much to trim any unnecessary spending. 

Standard/Compliance Officer

Many factors can influence what specific materials are needed for your MRO program. Regulation guidelines ensure that you have access to high-quality materials from authorized suppliers. Standard or compliance officers enforce these guidelines, ensuring that only appropriate and legal materials are purchased. 

Though these positions will help your company develop a stellar MRO process, some companies may also use third-party contractors for other MRO tasks such as janitorial needs or landscaping. The expenses associated with these services also fall under MRO. Typically, the supply chain teams responsible for procurement will create an MRO purchasing strategy and negotiate long-term contracts with cost savings in mind.

How Does CMMS Software Streamline MRO? 

MRO involves several factors and it can seem like a daunting task to effectively manage material and supply levels while keeping your machinery operational. However, with a CMMS platform this job gets easier. First, it stores all your data in a cloud, which is secure and searchable. A CMMS also streamlines MRO as it helps to schedule and track work orders, can account for assets across your facilities, and help to track MRO inventory levels.

To take it a step further and increase efficiency within your plant, invest in AOM software, a tool that integrates with a company's tech stack and works as a central knowledge base to connect fragmented systems, including CMMS. This allows for an even better experience as it offers a unified view of everything—assets, teams, schedules, devices—and spits out data and insights that can be easily consumed and analyzed.

Optimize Your MRO With UpKeep 

Each element of MRO is crucial to provide your customers with what they need, when they need it. With proper MRO management your team can be confident that they will have mission-critical supplies on the ready, fewer equipment downtime occurrences and less idle time. However, for an optimal experience, your team requires a dynamic tool that gives them the right visibility into all the moving parts. 

With UpKeep, maintenance, reliability, and operations teams now have one easy-to-use tool to drive efficiency and effectiveness across the organization. UpKeep gives you all of this in a cloud-based, mobile-first platform, so implementation is simple and it can be used anytime, anywhere. Our tool combines all the right features, including CMMS, so you can proactively and efficiently manage your assets, which leads to measurable savings. 

Ready to streamline your MRO? Start your free trial today.  

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