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Spares

Spares.
This is a difficult subject, the line between not having enough spares and having too many is a difficult one to find.
Having just the right things and the right number of them is something you will seldom achieve, unless you have very little equipment or a lot of money.
One of the problems is that those that have to pay for them do not want to spend the money or have other demands upon the available funds, and those that use the equipment would like you to keep everything so that you can do any repair in an instant.
Of course the last would suit you and the user most, and with care you can come close to it.

If you live near to where the equipment is made, or to a good supplier of the spares, then it makes things much easier, in that case you can afford to keep less and rely on a quick delivery if you run short of something.
Some firms are diabolical and some are very good at supplying things quickly, you will soon get to know which is which.
Of course the weather plays a part in all this, if you live in a humid and hot country your problems will be worse because rubber things will perish quickly so you can’t afford to keep so much of that sort of thing, what is difficult is that the places that need to keep larger stocks are often the places where it is hot and humid.

Still, down to the matter of what to keep, think carefully about this, it is very easy when looking through spare parts lists to think that you will need this and that, and when you get them you find that they are things that you will never use unless your equipment is run over by a bus, and even then it will probably be the only thing that doesn’t get damaged.
So look at the spares list with the piece of equipment in front of you and identify everything that you order.
Ask yourself do you really need it.
By and large it is such things as bellows and other rubber parts that are liable to wear or perish, and things that will easily be broken like catches on incubators and things, small things, that are taken apart for cleaning and are liable to get lost that you will need to order.

How many of each item is something that at first you will have to make an intelligent guess at, if you have not had the equipment for very long, after some time you will get to know how things wear and how easily they get lost, and even if at first you find that you have ordered rather a lot of something, most things get used in the end.
One thing to remember is that if you go by what the makers tell you to keep or to change at each service you will have huge stocks and will be doing many pointless changes.
I know one firm that tell you to change the bellows on one of their ventilators once a year, they are either poorly made or they are trying to make money out of you, I have been servicing 15 or so East Radcliffe ventilators for some 10 years and probably only changed 2 bellows in all that time, a well made bellows should last for years, even in a climate that is not good for them, even so any perishing that starts to take place will be quite obvious long before there is any danger of it splitting.
I sometimes get the feeling that some firms could make parts that would never need replacing by using better materials, of course, they say that it would cost too much to do so, this is not true, in many cases the increased cost would be hardly noticeable, the truth is that they want to be able to sell you spares because they make money on them.
Mind you some parts do need changing on a regular basis, the point is that if you are doing your servicing well you will notice that things need changing, and you will spot trouble long before it has any effect on the equipment and be able to do the repair before it is complained about.
This will also help you to keep a slightly smaller stock of spares as if you notice something going wrong you may have time to order the item in time rather than keeping it in stock.

I can tell you that spares cost a lot of money, anything that is medical will cost you much more than if it is for ordinary use, a pressure gauge for a piece of medical equipment will cost you 10 times as much as the same gauge for a piece of non medical equipment, so look out for the possibility of using non medical parts where you can to save money, mind you do be careful, if you do use non medical parts and there are any problems with the equipment that involve the law, the makers of the equipment will insist that the part you fitted caused the problem, even if it was exactly the same.

Once your spares have arrived store them very carefully and make a list of all the items that you keep for each type of equipment.
You will also need to make a note of the minimum order level on each item, this number is the minimum number that you think that you will need to last you until you get your new supplies after ordering them.
This must take into account all sorts of delays that will occur, inefficient firms, your hospitals administrative delays, strikes, postal delays and your own forgetfulness.

Now you will need to store them.
Rubber parts need to be kept cool and in the dark, metal need to be warm and dry, most plastics don’t like strong sunlight, and try to keep everything dust free, and free from attack by mice and other things.
What you store things in will depend upon what you have around you, you can, of course, buy all sorts of things for storage, they may seem expensive but remember that the things that you are keeping will often be much more expensive than the boxes.
Once you have your storage system keep it neat and tidy.
If there are other people working with you get some one to look after everything, or do it your self.
Make sure that they tell you when stocks are getting low.
Do not let them put old parts in with the new. If you do take parts off a piece of equipment that has been scrapped off, by all means keep them as spares, but keep them separately from new ones and label them a such.
Some people are often tempted to change things almost for the sake of it, as if changing something means that you have done a better service, this is most often false.
I think that if something is working then leave it alone, unless it is something that may perish or is subject to known wear and tear.

Make sure that you use your spares in rotation, that is use the parts you got earliest use first.

Try to get in on the ordering of new equipment, this makes sense both for you and for the hospital.
It helps the hospital because if they only have three different makes of ventilator, for example, it is easier and cheaper to keep spares for them than for say eight different makes of ventilator.
It also makes things easier for you in learning about each machine and how it works.

The other point is that you are the one that sees the machines when they break down or are serviced, therefore it is you that knows if one machine is more reliable than another, if one machine is easier to service than another, so you might be in a position to advise them not to buy a machine that you find unreliable, this is good for everyone in the long run.
If you are being offered equipment by outside bodies like charities or governments, do not just take what they offer, ask for what you want to suit what you may already have.
What the hospital decides to buy or be given should be a balance between:
a. What you can get.
b. Clinical suitability.
c. Maintenance suitability.
d. What you may have already.                                                                                                                                                                                    e. What you can afford.

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