The Most Important Part

The first article I wrote for an Industry publication I called “The Only Part That Matters.” This is of course the part that you don’t have available.

I was referencing the fact that too often we are driven by metrics. Off the shelf availability has to be more than 90% of some such number. That is all well and good – but what about the 10% that you are programming yourself to accept?

Early in my career I got a call in the wee hours on a Sunday morning. It was the Vice President of Parts and Service. There was a Department of Defense station in the Arctic that needed a part for their source of power – a Caterpillar Engine. Of course we didn’t have the part. We found the part in Europe. We sent an employee on a plane to go and get it, bring it back, and then we shipped it to the customer. That gentleman’s name was Rod Boileau and although most of you won’t know Rod he is one of the men that I blame for continuing to be in this Industry some 42 years later. He provided a lesson I have never forgotten. He said “if the part you don’t give me keeps my machine down – you have given me zero.” And this simple example made his point. No part – no power – no power death.

Ever since I have been harping on the fact that no matter what you goal is for off the shelf service you are programming yourself to accept to tolerate a level of shortages. That is why my first rule in the parts business is to find every part every day before you go home. No it is not acceptable to place the part on a backorder at a supplier but you need to know that the part is available and can be shipped that day. That is parts availability. The time is now.