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This article first appeared in IMPO's April 2013 issue.

Phillip Slater, Founder of SparePartsKnowHow.com"Because spare parts are different.”

It sounds like common sense, but Phillip Slater will tell you that it’s not always intuitive for manufacturers to view spare parts as a unique area, especially due to some pervasive myths that exist around inventory reduction.

The problem, according to Slater, is that spare parts inventories, used for MRO support, are different from other inventory types because they are used for equipment support.  This difference means that not only does their management require a different skill set than the management of other inventories but also that many of the standard supply chain techniques used for other inventories just don’t work with this inventory.

With these key differences in mind, Slater launched the website SparePartsKnowHow.com, an online membership program and training resource designed to help companies take control of their MRO and spare parts management.

Slater describes SparePartsKnowHow.com as a “warehouse of information” to help managers save money and manage their stockrooms, inventory, and spare parts. This website offers educational materials surrounding the issues of inventory and spare parts management and provides strategy for reducing costs.

Users can obtain a free basic membership to the site – which includes regular e-newsletters and an e-book – or upgrade to premium or corporate memberships, or other fee-based training or consulting options. Other services, like Slater's “desktop audits,” are comprised of an online interview with the user. “Based on your input, we evaluate the current state of your inventory management and then, shortly after the interview, we provide your personalized report,” explains Slater. “It is that easy to find out where you stand on your spare parts management journey.” This process concludes with three to five action items recommended in order to take the organization to the next level.

Worldwide Influence

Slater is a specialist in materials management, and author of four books, including Smart Inventory Solutions (Industrial Press, 2nd Ed.). With more than 25 years of operational experience, he has spent the past ten years as an independent consultant assisting 297 companies worldwide – and over 1,000 storerooms, with cumulative value of $3.5B of inventory – achieve better inventory outcomes.

Recently, Slater was awarded the 2012 Kim Rothwell Leadership in Logistics Education Award by the Logistics Association of Australia (LAA).

The LAA nomination specifically noted Slater’s worldwide influence in spare parts inventory management by mentioning that he has saved companies worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars in inventory spend. Other notable achievements cited include Slater's #1 rank in spare parts management books on Amazon.com, with his book Smart Inventory Solutions.

“I am truly honored and humbled to accept this award on behalf of all the spare parts inventory and supply chain managers who have assisted me in my career,” says Slater. “In a sense, this award is recognition of them, as SparepartsKnowHow.com is truly a culmination of the years of training, education, and experience I have received from the many experts in this profession. Using SparePartsKnowHow.com as a conduit, this knowledge can be shared with others, hopefully to the benefit of all in this profession.”

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