Some of the most common causes of downtime in a production facility are machine issues requiring replacement parts. If a spare part is on hand, you are likely to have your machine running and your staff back at work in a short time. However, if the replacement part needs to be ordered, you can expect to wait at least 24 hours before your system is running again. If the part is on back order, your wait may extend into days or weeks.

How to prevent downtime in a production facility

Having a comprehensive inventory of spare parts can help your business avoid these long periods of downtime. Deciding which parts to keep in inventory has its challenges. Order too many parts, or the wrong parts, and you might end up sinking capital into equipment you will never need. Read these tips below to help build an effective spare parts management system.

  1. Apex employees discussing spare parts managementAssign a Manager

Parts management may be its own full-time position, or it may be one of many responsibilities you have already taken on, but it will work best when there is an individual on staff who is proactively keeping track of repair issues and parts needs.

  1. Think Predictively, Not Just Reactively

Reactive parts management is familiar to everyone who has run out of toner ink in the middle of a printing job: you have to drop everything and buy a new cartridge before you can get back to work. In manufacturing, a broken fill head may stop production until the replacement arrives. In both cases, having the spare ready would have been less disruptive.

When managers act predictively, they will already know when certain parts will need replacement with regular use, as well as which have broken down more frequently in the past. You can plan predictively by:

  • keeping records of which replacement parts are needed and when, and finding the patterns that arise in your specific facility,
  • learning the regular parts replacement schedule for your equipment, and
  • prioritizing which parts to order, as seen in the next tip.

There will still be a need for reactive management because no one can predict every possible situation, but predictive management can help reduce these emergency situations to a minimum.

  1. Prioritize the Parts You Need

You will have a limited budget and a finite amount of space to devote to purchasing spare parts. Make your best educated guess by prioritizing the parts that fit into these categories:

  • Consumables. These are parts that are expected to wear out after a certain amount of use, like a timing belt. They also include supplies that are used up in production, like cap seals or shrink sleeves. Have these on hand before you need them.
  • Critical components. Without one of these parts, the entire machine has to shut down, especially if the part is related to safety.
  • Custom parts/Long lead time parts. If a replacement part is readily available and can arrive at your location quickly, your downtime won’t be as bad as it will be if one of these hard-to-get pieces malfunctions.

An Apex filling system at work

  1. Take Suggestions from Your Manufacturer

Ask if your manufacturer offers a “spare parts kit.” This collection will include the parts they know will most likely need replacing over time, and they may offer the parts at a discount. If they don’t have a pre-made kit, ask them what they would recommend.

  1. Use Storage Smartly

Once you have a good collection of spare parts, be sure your staff knows how to access it. Keep all pieces labeled with their purpose and manufacturer contact information. Maintain an up-to-date inventory of what’s available so no one mistakenly orders a part that they already have. Periodically cull pieces that are no longer needed as your equipment changes. Finally, store pieces where they will not be damaged or exposed to harmful conditions.

  1. Begin with Quality

Finally, always opt for quality-made parts designed specifically for your equipment. The few dollars you may save in the beginning with knock-off parts will not be worth the lost revenue if it causes your facility to shut down for several days. Another strong plus is if your supplier is located in the U.S. and can get your parts shipped to you that much faster.

Let Apex Help You

Apex offers all of our clients customized solutions to their filling needs. Call us at 219-575-7493 or visit our page here to learn about our commitment to quality and customer service.

Apex family posing for a photo


Integrity, honesty, and a dedication to delivering ambitious results serve as the central themes of Alicia’s career and are evident in every interaction she has with our clients. Her relationship-centered leadership style has paved the way for Apex Filling System’s culture of compassion & empathy, executed with accountability that ensures consistently great outcomes. As a learner for life, her pursuit of continuous personal and professional growth has led Apex Filling Systems to be recognized as an industry innovator in customer experience. Holding advanced degrees in the areas of engineering and management, she has a unique ability to analyze processes, identify potential problems before they arise, and develop standardized solutions to ensure every client of Apex Filling Systems enjoys a hassle-free, professional, and pleasant experience. Her leadership style has been influenced by the work of some of the most well-regarded thought leaders throughout the last 50 years. Among them are Jim Collins, Sally Hogshead, John Maxwell, and Tony Robbins.