The Management of Critical Spares in the Electric & Gas Utility Industry

The subject of “How to Manage Critical Spares” has been of interest to members of the ScottMadden-led Utility Materials Management Benchmarking Consortium for several years. However, no common, industry-wide accepted definition of “Critical Spares” exists at this time. This report provides a sample of the results of a survey conducted by ScottMadden, Inc., regarding the management of Critical Spares by electric & gas utilities in North America.

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The Management of Critical Spares in the Electric & Gas Utility Industry
Sample 2011 Survey Results

    • April 2011
    • Utility Materials Management Benchmarking Consortium
    • Copyright 2011 by ScottMadden. All rights reserved.

Contents

    • Section
  • Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Survey Organizers and Planning Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Survey Participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Selected Survey Insights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Question 5: Designation Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Questions 9: Critical Spares as a Percent of Material On-Hand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Question 13: Link to Assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  • This presentation includes a sample of the information contained within the complete survey report, which is currently available for all UMMBC members. Please contact us to learn more about this survey or the UMMBC

Introduction

    • About the Report
      This report summarizes the results of a survey conducted by ScottMadden, Inc., regarding the management of Critical Spares by electric & gas utilities in North America
      While no common, industry-wide accepted definition of Critical Spares exists at this time, these items generally have the following characteristics:
      They are critical to the ongoing operation of the asset they support
      They are generally equipment components or systems rather than individual parts
      They typically have long lead times
      They are generally high-dollar items
      The intent of the survey is to help establish a common definition for Critical Spares and to document industry leading practices regarding their management
      Background
      The subject of How to Manage Critical Spares has been of interest to members of the Utility Materials Management Benchmarking Consortium for several years. Last years survey on Inventory Optimization indicated that Critical Spares represent from 10% to 50% of the dollar value of both Generation and T&D inventory on hand. Given their value, any attempt to optimize inventory levels must effectively deal with these materials
      However, since there was no common industry definition of a Critical Spare, the group has delayed addressing this subject until now
      The survey was designed in December 2010 by a planning group consisting of representatives from nine utilities and deployed via an internet-based survey tool on January 13, 2011. The survey was closed on February 8, 2011

Survey Organizers and Planning Team

  • Survey Organizers

Survey Planning Team
A smaller group of concerned utilities members agreed to serve as the planning team for this years survey
The members of the planning team are presented in the table to the right
UMMBC

  • ScottMadden, Inc., is leading management consulting firm with practice areas in energy, clean tech and infrastructure, corporate and shared services, and federal government. ScottMadden has served the energy industry for more than 25 years and assisted more than 200 energy clients (including 90% of the top 20), performing thousands of successful projects. ScottMadden helped launch the Utility Materials Management Benchmarking Consortium in 2007 and is currently the consortium coordinator
    The UMMBC is comprised of leading utilities in North America who are collaborating to develop information needed to critically examine and improve ongoing warehouse and inventory management operations in the electric & gas utility industry. Membership is open to all utilities. There is no cost to join
  • Figure 1: Survey Planning Team

Survey Participants

    • Survey Participants
      At the close of the survey, 31 responses were received from 24 different utilities. The companies who participated in the survey are shown below:

Selected Survey Insights

    • The following are some representative key insights from this years survey:
      It is clear that there is no common industry definition of Critical Spares, although some characteristics are more common than others. Based upon the most commonly accepted characteristics, we would postulate that a common industry definition read as follows:
      A Critical Spare is an item that is unique to the asset it supports, whose absence would cause a significant loss of asset service availability or a significant negative impact on safety, the environment, or meeting regulatory requirements; is rarely used, and has a long lead time for replenishment.
      Nearly all companies (94%) recognize the concept of Critical Spares, but more than half do not have a standard, company-wide process for designating them in their inventory management systems
      For most companies Critical Spares represent between 11% and 30% of their total inventory based on $ values
      Surprisingly, less than half of the responding business units indicated that their Critical Spares are linked to the specific assets they support via Bills of Material or other methods

Sample Survey Results by Question


Q5: Designation Process (by Business Unit)

    • Generation business units have adopted standard documented processes for identifying Critical Spares in their inventory systems to a greater extent than have T&D business units
  • Q5. Which of the following best describes your company’s process for designating an item as a critical spare?
  • Figure 7: Respondents Representing Generation Only
  • Figure 8: Respondents Representing T&D Only

Q9: Critical Spares as a Percent of Inventory $ Value

    • Responses were varied in terms of how much of total material on-hand dollars are represented by Critical Spares
      For most companies, Critical Spares represent between 11% and 30% of total inventory
      84% of the respondents indicated that Critical Spares represent between 11% and 30% or less of their FERC 154 inventory
      92% of the respondents indicated that Critical Spares represent between 11% and 30% or less of the previously capitalized inventory
  • Q9. What is the percentage of your total material on-hand $ value for the following: (Note: total material on-hand is defined as previously capitalized material on-hand + FERC 154 inventory on-hand)
  • Figure 14: Representation of Critical Spares in Overall Inventory Levels (Based $ Values)

Q13: Link to Assets

    • Given the importance of Critical Spares to asset service availability we expected that such items would be linked to the assets they support via Bills of Material or other methods. The responses indicate that this is not always the case
      Less than half of the companies indicated that their Critical Spares are linked to specific assets they support
  • Q13. Are critical spares linked to a specific in-service asset? (e.g., via Bills of Material or other method)
  • Figure 20: Methods Used to Link Critical Spares to the Assets They Support

Contacts

    • Andy Flores
      Partner and Supply Chain Practice Leader
      ScottMadden, Inc.
      3495 Piedmont Road, NE
      Building 10, Suite 805
      Atlanta, GA 30305Office: 404-814-0020
      Email: aeflores@scottmadden.com

      About the UMMBC
      The UMMBC is a group of leading utilities who are collaborating to develop the information needed to critically examine and improve ongoing warehouse and inventory management operations in the electric & gas utility industry. The consortium is open to all utilities. There is no cost to join and most surveys are conducted and provided to participants at no cost. Periodically, ScottMadden will charge a nominal fee for report production to recover production and development costs

  • Jordan Gillis
    Director
    ScottMadden, Inc.
    3495 Piedmont Road, NE
    Building 10, Suite 805
    Atlanta, GA 30305Office: 404-814-0020
    Email: jordangillis@scottmadden.com
  • www.scottmadden.com

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Contributing Authors

Jordan Gillis Director

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