With over 20 years of on-site account management under his belt, Niall is one of our most experienced Account Managers. Having worked for a number of other MRO providers, Niall joined the RIS team 13 years ago and now works on-site as our trusted ‘face of the supplier’ with the client.


In a conversation with Clare Tracy, our Head of Marketing, he gives an insight into what MRO means today in the Irish Industrial sector, and how to best manage multi-million Euro inventories and supply chains.



In your words what is MRO, and what is the MRO service that RIS offers a client?


When I started with RIS, MRO was mainly an order processing service. The client came to us with a list of parts to order, we processed it, the stock arrived and the client managed the inventory. The profile was predominantly restricted to Engineering Parts.


Today, the profile has totally changed and now encapsulates all non-direct materials and services – essentially MRO is a full service offering around the order processing. Not only do we do ‘stores-part’ – RIS are integrated into the client process so that our involvement starts with procurement; raising the requisition on the client system, which is approved by the customer – the people in the engineering stores are responsible for receipting the goods onto the customer stock system, for locating them into the stores, for cycle-counting them, for issuing them out to engineers as and when they are needed for an emergency breakdown or for plant maintenance and they are also responsible for manging the certification that goes with these parts.


By managing the full supply chain like this, from procurement right through to the stakeholders hands, including on-site stock management, the relationship between RIS and the customer has also evolved to one of partnership, trust and shared goals.



How has MRO evolved in the past 20 years?


Well, the service that we offer has changed dramatically in that space of time. Initially, we looked after the order process for spare MRO parts. We would have managed the relationship with the parts manufacturer, placed and processed the order, handed over the delivery to the client, and that was that. I was a one-man-show on site, but with that said we were dealing with less items/value.


Nowadays, the MRO service RIS provides, has evolved to a full supply chain managed service. RIS can have a full team working on-site; for example with my current client we have a team of 10. I’m the account manager, 3 buyers report into me, we have 3 people in the engineering stores reporting to the RIS Engineering Stores Manager and a further 3 people under the VMI Team Lead and we look after the stock through the full process. We identify the need to place an order, we manage the order process, then after delivery, we also provide the full inventory management service.



So, this seems like a very specialised service – why would a business look to outsource this work?


When it comes to maintenance and repair in a manufacturing plant, parts and components are designed to do a specific job and we can’t deviate from that. A client will have a ‘spare parts list’ for each piece of equipment that they have, in case of a breakdown.  Where we add value is by sourcing the same parts for less than the client can source them, and by managing the supplier relationships. Vendor reduction and Consignment Stock can have a major influence on the TCO (total cost of ownership) for our customers. OEM conversion is recognised as a substantial means of providing hard cost savings – RIS are highly experienced in converting these opportunities.



If I was a Procurement Manager why would I choose RIS over one of the other MRO providers?


We believe our service offering sets us apart from our competitors, we focus on all aspects of the supply chain to ensure our customers get 110% value for their spend on all their non direct materials. We strive to minimise all the hidden costs associated with the supply chain irrespective of the commodity, including the soft costs that are often overlooked.


We also have a full Quality team of 3 people in Head Office and a warehouse that is regularly audited by our main clients. Our ISO mark, which has only recently been approved again for 2023 also sets us apart in the marketplace. Our warehouse is temperature monitored – this is very important for some of our Pharma clients particularly for items that go into production suites.



So how do you grow a relationship with a new Client?


The first thing we do is get an understanding of a new client’s volume of work, so we can identify their procurement needs and points of use. This will help us to assess how many people we need to allocate to the client’s account. Will they require support in the engineering stores? Will we be using our VMI service?  At RIS we aim to build a service that suits the current needs, but can also evolve as the client business grows to ensure that we can provide the support that is needed at any time.


At any given time things could ramp up, even for a short period of time – we need to be able to manage the demand and the back office support from the team in Head Office provides the extra support that we can lean on at peak times.



Is being on-site essential?


Yes, at any given time there are RIS staff on hand on-site. 


The account manager needs to be onsite to understand the changing needs of the client, to manage the service through peak times, to lean back into HQ to ensure consistency in service, to escalate to management if necessary and to proactively communicate with the primary contacts on site.


The critical skills to being the face of RIS on-site is to understand the needs and proactively communicate both up and down the line to keep the service running smoothly. The key to good customer service is communication and having an escalation process in place. This helps build relationships and trust so that if there is an issue it won’t come out of the blue, if there’s a concern they can come directly to us to resolve it without the need for an escalation. 


On my site RIS are recognised as a Key Supply Chain Partner, we provided 100% uninterrupted service during COVID as we do every week. RIS is the single point of contact for a large number of stakeholders on site.


My responsibility is to coordinate this on a daily basis.


The RIS on-site team and the support from HQ ensure this challenge is an enjoyable one.


There is nothing we can’t do!