The Uptime Blog
A new production method is shaking up the manufacturing industry for good. MIT Technology Review calls it one of the top 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2013. Additive Manufacturing – the latest breakthrough technology – is redefining how producers compete in a global industrialized economy.
A Brief History of Additive Manufacturing
At its core, Additive Manufacturing is based on 3D printing technology. And while it all seems to be shiny and new, 3D printing has actually been around for a while – since the late 1980’s. “… [I]n fact, 3-D printing has been slowly evolving in labs and in the market since Chuck Hall invented stereolithography back in 1986 with his company, 3D Systems” says Tim Hessman, Industry Week Associate Editor in a slide show titled “The History of 3D Printing”. It was a short step from there to the concept of laser additive manufacturing in 1997 by Aeromet (an MTS Systems company). According to a 2005 Aeromet press release, laser additive manufacturing (LAM) was the “process for the direct, rapid fabrication of three-dimensional titanium components, directly from computer-based solid models without the use of molds or dies”.
The beginning of commercial 3D printing for manufacturing had become a reality. Aeromet’s radically new technology gave them a competitive advantage in the production of laser formed titanium components to the worldwide aerospace industry that both reduced costs and accelerated time to market across aircraft manufacturing.
Although the idea of 3D printing has been with us for a while and research continues, the broader concept of Additive Manufacturing as a viable production process in manufacturing is relatively new. It also consists of far more than 3D print technology alone. The Additive Manufacturer Users Group (AMUG), which has been in existence since the early 1990s, educates and supports users of all additive manufacturing technologies including:
- 3D Printing (3DP)
- Direct Metal Deposition (DMD)
- Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
- Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
- Laser Consolidation (LC)
- Laser Sintering (LS)
- Multi-Jet Modeling (MJM)
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Stereolithography (SL)
Benefits of Additive Manufacturing
Most would agree that Additive Manufacturing reduces raw material use and provides a fast production, low cost method of delivery. Ed Morris, director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, in a recent presentation to the AMUG conference, was more specific in what he believes are the benefits of the process as it relates to the Department of Defense (DoD).
- Efficient use of Resources
- Small-Lot Production
- Rapid Manufacturing
- Agile Manufacturing
- Reverse Engineering
- Lightweight Structures
Manufacturing news and insight website Manufacturing.net sites five more top benefits of Additive Manufacturing that you might not have considered:
- Freedom to design and innovate without penalties
- Increased supply chain proficiency with ‘3D faxing’
- Support of green manufacturing initiatives
- Bottom line improvements through factory physics
- Get parts – fast
Additive Manufacturing and the Role of Parts Management
The last benefit on the Manufacturing.net list of top benefits really caught our attention. “Get parts – fast”. While the technology exists for rapid manufacture, not everyone will have at their disposal a 3D printer (or other additive manufacturing method) and detailed CAD drawings for easy reproduction of parts.
So, even though the methodology of manufacturing production may undergo a radical paradigm shift in how things are actually produced, the one constant is that complex equipment will still be constructed of individual parts. And parts (identification, ordering, payment, installation instructions, assemblies and service related bulletins) must be managed regardless of whether the parts are pulled from the warehouse stocking shelves or picked fresh from the 3D printer.
Integration with a manufacturer’s business systems has long been a key benefit of Enigma’s InService EPC software. It builds the bridge between the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product life management (PLM) that includes the critical aftermarket parts and service component of complex equipment maintenance.
Looking forward, Enigma is perfectly positioned to adapt to the new manufacturing paradigm that Additive Manufacturing is sure to introduce to the world. We’ll be helping to redefine how producers compete in a global industrialized economy.
a list advertising parts for machinery along with prices. (from Dictionary.com)
Over the years Enigma has connected with a lot of OEM companies who tell us they maintain and actively use a parts catalog. By many definitions they would be correct, whether that was a printed page distributed via snail mail or even a collection of PDFs that could be shared via email, they published a list of parts and associated prices to share with their internal service teams or network of dealers/distributors.
End of story, right? Wrong.
Vintage Parts Catalogs – what a parts catalogs used to be
“[A] list advertising parts for machinery along with prices” is an antiquated definition of a parts catalog, even by small scale manufacturer’s standards. It’s entirely inadequate to describe the types of tasks that parts catalogs are regularly called upon to perform while maintaining the uptime on an expanding fleet of complex equipment.
While technically speaking, companies may have a printed parts catalog – or even what they consider to be an electronic parts catalog (collection of PDFs), those definitions are far too limited to be of value to an OEM looking to support their equipment after the sale or to support their network of dealers that maintain their equipment.
The expectation of what a parts catalog does and can do has evolved. Service technicians, dealers, and even customers want immediate access to in-depth information, not just a list of parts and their prices. They want to see illustrations of individual parts, sub-assemblies and their relationship to the entire piece of equipment. Service techs and dealers want access to service manuals, service bulletins, marketing product sheets as well as parts availability. The manufacturers themselves want the parts catalog to become part of their revenue model with facilitated ordering and to provide analytics on orders, parts or service searches, and maintenance.
Integrated, Illustrated, Electronic Parts Catalogs – what a parts catalogs looks like today
Parts catalogs have advanced to become the backbone of the service organization. Today an electronic parts catalog is a vital part of an OEMs aftermarket maintenance information structure and knowledge base. It’s a mission critical tool that allows maintenance and repair teams to access service information, identify parts, check availability and order online, share best practices, and integrate with other business functions.
According to the The 2012 Field Service Benchmarking Report by WBR Research, over the next five years, the service market will:
• Involve more integration with customers and focus on core deliverables for business growth
• Be technology product driven due to the demand (gratification) for immediate information
• Move toward predictive maintenance, BI to OLS, customer self service, and cloud based software services
• See “Bring Your Own Device” to work impacting delivery models outsourcing of more service related activities; consolidation of service providers into adjacent space”
Enigma has been pre-emptive in researching and adding features and functions to our parts catalog to stay ahead of the changing service trends. We offer a web-native application that enables equipment manufacturers to easily publish and distribute accurate, up-to-date parts and service information for their dealer/distributor networks.
Parts and Service Information
Parts catalogs house far more than just parts information
Transactions and Integration
- Illustrated parts catalogs display a parts list and assembly illustration together with dynamic part information (pricing, location, availability)
- Parts lists, alternative parts and assembly views that provide dealers and service technicians with the information they need
- Part cards display detailed information regarding the selected part, such as price, cost, quantity in stock, quantity on order and warehouse location (BIN)
- Complete parts, sales and service information delivered by serial number, product line, model and options
- Support for multiple data formats including tables, text, graphics and video
- Shopping carts, lists and e-commerce integration to streamline and automate the parts ordering process
- Choice of DVD, web/online or print distribution packages, with incremental updates
- Administrator tools to generate and automatically distribute parts and service updates
- Open architecture enables integration with back-office applications such as warranty, diagnostics, inventory and ERP systems
- Search functionality that enables simple or advanced searches according to free text, serial number, part number, description, product type, family and model
- On-the-fly creation and viewing of collaborative e-notes for maintenance and feedback
- Bookmarks and history to save and recall the model, assembly and serial number filtering, and allow users to easily return to previously viewed parts catalogs or product information
- Complete support for foreign languages and currency
- Dashboard Reporting providing business intelligence and predictive trends
- Flexibility for on-line, off-line, and mobile service environments
- Browser and device independence to address BYOD concerns
Is Your Parts Catalog Vintage or Mission Critical? Questions to Ask Yourself
The following are some questions to see how your parts catalog compares. Is your company operating a vintage parts catalog or have you embraced the modern definition, features and functions that are necessary to succeed in the aftermarket support of complex equipment?
- Does it include more than just parts (ie Service manuals, service bulletins)?
- Does it include dynamic illustrations of parts assemblies with hot spotted parts?
- Does it easily support multiple file formats (even video)?
- Is it integrated into critical business systems (like ERP, PLM)?
- Can it scale as the business grows?
- Is it easily navigable and provide contextual search with highlighted search results?
- Is it mobile and can it be accessed online or offline?
- Does it provide analytics to managers and/or executives?
With a good sense of the type of parts catalog you’re operating, along with a clear understanding of where the service industry is moving you’ll have the tools you need to successfully navigate your company’s service growth.
Tags: aftermarket, electronic parts catalogue, parts and service, parts catalog, InService EPC, dvautier, diane vautier, automotive aftermarket, electronic parts catalog, epc software, maintenance, complex equipment
Aftermarket support can be inexact. It’s hard to define, hard to differentiate, and even harder to transition from cost center to profit center. But, armed with three strategic best practices, aftermarket operations can find and capitalize on opportunity with success.
Benchmarking compares a company’s business processes and performance metrics against best in class or other similar industry standards. Management consultant, university professor and author Peter Drucker best described the value of benchmarking when he said “what's measured improves”, and benchmarking makes meaningful measurement possible.
Benchmarking in OEM or third party aftermarket support is an important step for ongoing and continual improvement. It is the process of identifying key performance indicators (KPIs), measuring them, establishing goals for improving them and then monitoring them to evaluate the level of improvement. According to a Blumberg Advisory Group study, “benchmarking is the key to understanding aftermarket services … and identifying areas for improvement.”
What types of performance metrics are benchmarked in aftermarket industry?
That depends on the industry. For instance, the telecommunications and consumer electronics industries consider key performance indicators to be No Fault Found and the overall length of the depot repair cycle. Blumberg Advisory Group found that “No Fault Found (NFF) remains one of the most cost prohibitive issues for manufacturers. 80% of respondents stated that they are looking for alternative solutions to combat high levels of NFF.” They also found that the overall length of the depot repair cycle is critical because it is essential to operational readiness and sustainability and impacts on-hand inventory stocking.
Accountants and advisors Moore Stephens Automotive, in their Key Performance Indicators for Automotive Retailers report, identify gross return on investment and gross profit percentage (among other indicators) as top automotive parts KPIs. They include gross profit percentage of labor and the parts/labor ratio as KPIs (among others) for service work.
Find and benchmark whatever aftermarket metrics are important to your industry and let those KPIs inspire strategies for improvement.
Integration connects a company’s various departments and business centers. It improves communication, streamlines operations, creates valuable channels for monitoring established KPIs, and helps drive revenue.
Integration in aftermarket operations creates a significant competitive advantage and is an important factor to future success. Enigma’s partner SAP in its whitepaper Best Practices in Complex Equipment Manufacturing, Sales, and Service writes:
“With their spare parts business growing rapidly as a percentage of revenue, many complex product and equipment manufacturers have found their cost centers growing into larger and larger profit centers.Typically, these cost centers have ‘island’ systems that are not integrated to the enterprise, inhibiting communication with customers and customer service organizations, service groups, engineers, vendors, and suppliers.”
They go on to say that “[i]ntegrated applications, especially parts and service catalog information, enable organizations to position inventories, either globally or locally to better service your customers.” SAP’s conclusion is that “manufacturing companies with integrated parts and service information are enjoying reduced inventory levels without a decrease in customer fill rates.”
Jonathan Carey, Managing Director and Head of the Automotive Aftermarket Practice at BB&T Capital Markets, in his 2012 Automotive Specialty Products Alliance (ASPA)presentation Current State of the Aftermarket estimates that the retail online penetration rates for the auto/autoparts industry has a “conservative growth potential of 12%.” That’s a huge growth opportunity that will elude OEM parts organizations still clinging to outdated “island” systems that are not up to par with progressing online usage estimates.
Continued focus on incorporating new technologies and responding to new trends allows integrated aftermarket organizations to outperform their competitors. The introduction or upgrade of an electronic parts catalog, with field service mobility, and browser and device independence (HTML 5 and CSS3 compliance), position OEM aftermarket organizations for continued success.
3. Predictive Analytics
Predictive Analytics unleashes the power hidden deep in business data. Whereas traditional reporting tools show you where you’ve been, predictive analytics uses data patterns to uncover forward-looking trends (either positive or negative) that help guide critical strategic business decisions. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to an aftermarket crystal ball.
According to a Forrester Research study, “predictive analytics enables firms to reduce risks, make intelligent decisions, and create differentiated, more personal customer experiences.” Enigma has identified three critical areas where predictive analytics can provide a competitive advantage for OEM or third party aftermarket service and parts support – to evaluate service and parts processes, identify product and service trends, and drive parts purchases.
- Evaluate Service and Parts Processes
o Gain service & parts insight about how often the EPC is being used and for what purpose
o Gauge the impact of the EPC on business and identify opportunities to capture revenue
o Align people, processes and assets to optimize performance for productivity and profitability
o Measure KPI’s to evaluate goal attainment
- Indentify Product and Service Trends
o Detect hidden service patterns and part search associations
o Efficiency of technical service & parts content
o Learn which specific equipment or models are causing the most (and least) EPC usage
o Identify quality training issues
o Identify opportunities to capture revenue
o Measure the number of lost parts orders due to shopping cart abandonment
o Understand online parts purchase flow and value via submitted carts
o Strengthen customer retention
o Improve cross-selling opportunities through service patterns and part searches
Engima’s most recent InService EPC Version 5.5 release has introduced a Dashboard Reporting feature that sheds light on these three areas to uncover business information, and giving managers and executives more insight into these three critical areas of aftermarket operations.
Knowing and working the three strategic best practices in aftermarket support will position aftermarket operations for continued success.
Tags: electronic parts catalogue, parts catalog, field service, mobile, InService EPC, dvautier, fleet maintenance, electronic parts catalogs, epc software, complex equipment, mobile parts catalog
When it comes to complex equipment maintenance and repair, mobility is a key factor to success. According to an infographic “Delight Customers and Increase Profitability,” by SAP, an Enigma partner, mobility improves first-time fix rates, increases productivity, produces gains in profitability and is a key strategy for improving performance.
Customers Want More, Now
Customers are increasingly demanding more from their equipment service providers – OEMs operating in-house service and field service teams, dealership service departments, and independent service providers. Customers want faster, smarter, more extensive service to combat equipment downtime, and they want it NOW.
Although service providers recognize shifting customer expectations and are eager to respond, they are restricted by the technology available to them. The inability to remotely access service and parts information, and the limitations of mobile device operating systems present stumbling blocks to productive and profitable field service.
Mobile Electronic Parts Catalog Software Delivers
Just a few weeks ago Enigma announced InService EPC Version 5.5. It includes new advances in parts catalog software that help service providers tackle the challenges of field service mobility. It gives service teams the tools needed to meet customer’s demands head on.
The InService EPC Version 5.5 puts the power of a parts catalog where it’s needed most – in the hands of the service technicians. It works equally as well on a tablet as is does on a desktop or laptop. Five key features make InService EPC tablet compatibility advantageous:
- Mobility – full remote access to parts availability, pricing and service information
- Independence – browser and device independent
- Design – easy-to-use touch screen graphic user interface
- Viewing – ability to view, search with highlight and display pdf documents without additional software
- Technology – HTML5 and CSS3 compliant with Enigma 3C platform technology Improved Service Performance
Mobility – Tablet compatibility expands the mobile capabilities of service staff. It offers a fully functioning software application that gives field service techs access to all the same functions found in the desktop or laptop versions. Search for parts availability, pricing or detailed service information. View parts assemblies, add items to the shopping cart, and submit orders online.
Independence – InService EPC Version 5.5 is HTML5 and CSS3 compliant making it device- and browser-independent. Service technicians can use whatever device they want, wherever online connection is available. This cross-platform support is also useful for IT departments struggling to manage challenging BOYD issues.
Design – A sleek new interface is expressly designed for tablet use. Internet Explorer users won’t notice any changes to the user interface, but when you view version 5.5 on your team’s tablets using other browsers, you’ll experience a simple, easy-to-use design. The touch screen navigation eliminates the need for a mouse while maintaining the full application functionality. Service technicians have all the information they need – literally at their fingertips.
Document Viewing – InService EPC Version 5.5 features built-in streaming pdf viewing. No plug-in is required. There are no apps to download. View, search and get highlighted search results. Display pdf documents without additional software. Open multiple windows to compare models, share e-notes, or get detailed parts information with fly-out boxes when hot-spotted items are selected.
Technology – Version 5.5 is based on our proven 3C Platform technology, and incorporating international programming community standards. It conforms to the latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards making it a powerful and robust mobile application supporting multiple types of rich content formats.
InService EPC Version 5.5 is true mobility without compromise – the power of a desktop with the portability of a tablet. It makes increased mobility a reality for service teams looking to improve performance and is leading the transformation of the field service industry.
Last week Enigma introduced our InService® EPC Version 5.5 electronic parts catalog. The new release includes two key features – tablet compatibility and dashboard reporting. It also contains enhanced performance, improved functionality and more detailed administrative control with the ability to broadcast messages to users system wide.
While all the system updates are cause for excitement, one feature creating buzz with top management and executives is the new Dashboard Reporting function, designed for executive-level monitoring. It captures data trends of electronic parts catalog activity and visually represents them in an easy-to-read chart format by highlighting pre-defined key performance indicators (KPIs). Dashboard Reporting arms OEM management with real-time, data-driven insights to optimize aftermarket service and parts revenue.
Jonathan Yaron, CEO of Enigma, describes the Dashbord as “…an important executive management tool that uncovers user trends as the OEM in-house service teams and dealer service teams support complex equipment. It is a real game changer for OEMs looking to improve customer/dealer support and increase aftermarket parts revenue”.
InService EPC Version 5.5 comes pre-loaded with nine dashboard charts that highlight key performance indicators for processes, products, people and purchases:
Processes Trends - Monitor Service and Parts Processes (activity)
- Activity Trend. Utilization of EPC system
- Activity by Role. Utilization of EPC system by job type (user role)
Product Trends – Identify Product Trends
- Top Usage Models. Number of documents assessed per model (high)
- Top Usage Models by Number of Users. Number of users researching each model
- Top Usage Serial Numbers. EPC utilization time by serial number
- Mean Time Work on Machine (S/N) Distribution. Mean time of EPC utilization by serial number
People / Purchase Trends – Influence People and Generate Purchases
- Submitted Carts Trend. Number of shopping carts submitted by date
- Total Amount of Submitted Carts. Value ($) of shopping carts submitted by date
- Abandoned Shopping Carts. Number of shopping carts abandoned by date
The Dashboard Reporting feature lets executives and management:
- Gauge the impact of InService EPC on service and parts business and identify opportunities to capture revenue
- Determine which product models generate the most/least EPC-driven service and parts activity and identify quality and training issues
- Identify which serial numbers are generating the most EPC-driven service and parts activity and identify quality and training issues
- Measure the impact of the EPC system on capturing parts orders/revenue and facilitating online transactions
- Measure the number of lost parts orders due to shopping cart abandonment
The InService EPC Dashboard Reporting feature adds a layer of business intelligence not found in other electronic parts catalog software. It brings clarity and visibility to previously undetected processes and products and gives management the tools to influence people and parts purchases. OEM executives are able to evaluate and optimize aftermarket service and parts processes—those recurring activities that drive the most profitable part of the business.
Dashboard Reporting helps monitor service and parts processes, identify product trends, and track purchases. This allows OEMs with dealer/distributor networks to measure buying habits of those networks while OEMs with their own field service teams to evaluate staff efficiency. The Dashboard helps companies gauge the impact of the EPC system on either dealer or field service and parts business and capitalize on opportunities to realize untapped revenue. It is a real-time, data-driven competitive advantage that helps OEM executives capture more of the aftermarket parts market.
If you’re an existing Enigma InService EPC customer, or if you’re considering moving to an electronic parts catalog from a paper system, contact us to learn more about our Version 5.5 release with the mobility of tablets and Dashboard Reporting.
It’s here. The latest release of InService EPC Version 5.5 is now available. Our programmers have been working hard to deliver the next big innovation in electronic parts catalogs – and Version 5.5 delivers. There are two key features that make InService EPC Version 5.5 a ground-breaking advance in parts catalog software innovation – mobility and business intelligence.
Mobility – a More Productive Tool for Service Technicians
Service technician mobility is a hot topic. OEMs operating in-house service and field service teams, dealership service departments, and independent service providers are demanding more from their parts catalog software. Service technicians want:
- Mobility – full remote access to parts availability, pricing and service information
- Browser and device independence
- Easy to use touch screen graphic user interface
- Ability to view, search, highlight and display pdf documents without additional software
InService EPC version 5.5 with tablet compatibility gives them what they need. It expands the capabilities of service staff with a user interface expressly designed for use on a tablet computer. It provides a fully functional application, touch screen navigation and convenience of tablet mobility.
This latest release is HTML5 and CSS3 compliant making it device- and browser-independent so service technicians can use whatever device they want, wherever online connection is available. It features built-in streaming pdf so users can view, search with highlights and display parts and service information without an outside pdf viewer. No additional plug-ins or apps are needed.
The new release makes increased mobility a reality by allowing service technicians to access the service and parts catalog wherever they are on whatever device they choose. It’s a tool that helps service technicians be more productive, mangers reduce service maintenance costs, and customers increase complex equipment uptime.
Business Intelligence – a More Productive Tool for Managers and Executives
One thing that every executive craves is Big Data Business Intelligence. That’s exactly what InService EPC Version 5.5 gives them with the new Dashboard Reporting feature. It arms OEM management with real-time, data-driven insights to optimize aftermarket service and parts revenue. The Dashboard Reporting feature is a newly created executive management tool for Enigma InService EPC customers. It captures data trends of electronic parts catalog activity and visually represents it in an easy-to-read chart format by highlighting pre-defined key performance indicators (KPIs).
It’s a highly effective business intelligence tool that:
• Organizes and presents executive level data
• Highlights key performance indicators
• Brings visibility to undetected service and parts trends
• Provides real-time, data-driven competitive advantage
Dashboard Reporting lets executives and managers measure the effectiveness of a company’s services and parts operations so they can evaluate service and parts processes, indentify product trends and drive parts purchases.
In addition to mobility and Dashboard Reporting, Version 5.5 also includes other strategic upgrades to the interface, performance, functionality and administrative InService EPC control:
- Mobility – Browser and device independence on a fully functional application designed expressly for mobile tablet use
- Executive Reporting – Introduces the InService EPC Dashboard feature that visually represents data in an easy-to-read chart format by highlighting pre-defined key performance indicators
- More Intuitive User Interface – Redesigned to be consistent with latest e-commerce practices including shopping cart location and more descriptive search results
- Enhanced Performance – Faster processing of catalog revisions and faster graphic user interface
- Improved Functionality – Delivering more detail in part descriptions and more flexibility in assembly structure
- More Detailed Admin Control - Ability to broadcast “What’s New” messages on the main page of the EPC, and the ability to limit user modifications to item descriptions and price
The InService EPC Version 5.5 release is the latest example of Enigma’s ongoing commitment of continued research and development that supports our customers’ service and parts business today and anticipates their needs tomorrow. It’s a philosophy we take seriously in our efforts to provide exceptional support for the service of complex equipment.
Enigma is the most advanced electronic parts catalog software on the market, used by OEMs worldwide, to facilitate parts lookup, sharing of service, sales, and related maintenance information, and parts ordering through deep integration with our customer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
That’s the suggestion of Bob Williamson, contributing editor for Maintenance Technology, who published an interesting article titled “How to Improve Maintenance.” In it, he suggests that “implementing maintenance activities in the hopes of improving performance often misses the mark.” Simply implementing a new maintenance procedure or program alone does not guarantee results. Changes in maintenance have to be observable and measurable. Without a means of measurement, it’s difficult to determine if the activity resulted in an improvement and is worth continuing.
Bob looked at a number of maintenance activities – some that resulted in benefits and others that resulted in failures. He concluded that effort should be first spent in those areas that result in solid measurable results.
The article made for interesting reading as it reinforced what Enigma has experienced in the maintenance marketplace over the years. Companies absolutely know that maintenance is an area where improvements can (and need to) be made. This is especially true given the current economic climate where cost-cutting and profits are at the top of everyone’s agendas. The challenge though comes with implementation – not all companies know how achieve solid measurable results.
So how can companies achieve efficiencies and improvements in maintenance?
For many, streamlining maintenance processes seem like an intuitive place to start. But that alone may not be enough to produce measurable results, especially if companies have lots of disparate systems that don’t support the new streamlined processes. On the other hand, introducing new systems without looking at the processes themselves is equally as ineffective. Enigma has found that the most productive path to maintenance improvement success is through the combination of process evaluation along with the adoption of the appropriate maintenance technology.
We reviewed the list of Bob Williamsons planned maintenance activities to see how well Enigma’s software offerings address systematic maintenance inefficiencies. We compared results from using InService MRO while considering “failure modes” commonly associated with maintenance improvement:
- Failure modes: Inaccurate, incomplete, or vague work instructions; lack of training and/or accountability to follow instructions; sub-standard replacement parts…
- Our solution: Ready-availability of up-to-date, detailed OEM or Operator work instructions that support the maintenance tasks; option to include training materials alongside the maintenance instructions or parts information so that mechanics have all relevant information at hand – whether working at a base or remotely.
Predictive or Condition-based Maintenance
- Failure modes: Improper data collection; insufficient analysis, reporting and trending; lack of timely corrective action; deferring recommended maintenance interventions.
- Our solultion: Option to integrate with equipment diagnostics systems to help drive condition-based fault tracing, leading to rapid corrective action; ability to gather mechanics or field service inputs to feed back to the primary system of record and assist in building up a true knowledgebase of cause/action analysis.
- Failure modes: Lack of defined and integrated maintenance work processes; software & system functionality a priority versus desired maintenance work processes; limited end-user input.
- Our solution: Have the “know-how” of maintenance tasks linked to the planned maintenance tasks so that users have access to both the planned maintenance information (hours, skills etc.) and the technical details on how to perform each work process; ability to capture end-user inputs ready for sending to the Maintenance System, thereby ensuring that a knowledge-base of expertise is being built up within the organisation.
Total Productive Maintenance
- Failure modes: Lack of focus on eliminating major equipment-related losses; overemphasis on operator-performed maintenance; limited interdependent application of five basic TPM “pillars.
- Our solution: Integration with other interdependent applications and incorporation of operator-specific processes and procedures in a way that support the operator’s way of working and lead to improved equipment effectiveness.
- Failure modes: Generic craft skills/knowledge training; little or no equipment and task-specific training; informal or unstructured OJT; seniority versus job-performance requirement based; not provided to operators; no performance demonstration or qualification.
- Our solution: Incorporation of training materials, ensuring that both online and offline mechanics have the support required to perform required maintenance in situ.
Based on our customer’s experiences, it is clear that InService MRO improves the maintenance process and provides real measurable results – so managers can focus on areas that are most effective – and mitigates failure modes for more sustainable gains. It provides critical process expertise and automation experience to improve preventive maintenance, predictive or condition-based maintenance, maintenance management, total productive maintenance and maintenance training.
IETMs – Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals – have been around for a few decades now. The road for widespread use of electronic manuals in the military was paved by a set of standards issued in the United States in 1992: MIL-M-87268, defining the content and style of the manuals; MIL-D-87269, defining the database requirements; and MIL-Q-87270, defining quality assurance procedures.
Traditionally, IETMs have been categorized into five classes based on the level of functionality they provide to the end user. Class 1 IETMs are simple “page turner” applications that provide basic navigation and search capabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are Class 5 IETMs, offering fully integrated and dynamic database functionality. In practice, for many years most IETMs in the market were in the lower classes, as the efforts required to develop Class 4/5 IETMs required heavy customization. In recent years, IETMs have been defined using a functionality matrix rather than a 5-category classification, allowing clearer definitions of the functionality needed by the end user (and blurring the boundaries between the Classes in the process). The relatively new S1000D standard has further enhanced the reusability of data used within IETMs.
Enigma has been supplying defense customers with IETMs for more than twenty years. As with all our solutions, these IETMs have been developed with the end user in mind. That is, what does the user in the field – the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the marine – need in order to perform necessary maintenance in the most efficient manner? As such, our IETMs have been designed to offer an easy and intuitive user interface, the ability to find and order parts quickly and the integration to other systems to ensure a smooth and complete workflow. This functionality was not developed specifically for the defense industry. Our military IETMs are based on the Enigma 3C platform, which offers the necessary open and scalable architecture to produce these IETMs almost “out of the box.”
Most recently, Enigma’s IETM technology has been selected by the Norwegian Defence forces in their SAP Logistics project. Norwegian Defence is able to deliver fully-functional IETMs to the field based on a myriad of formats, from simple PDFs all the way to structured S1000D content. Other Enigma IETMs have been implemented by US and European defense customers.
For a deeper look into the Enigma IETMs for the military, we invite you to download our updated white paper: The Advantages of Integrated Military IETMs or IETPs in the Field.
Equipment uptime is critical. Hospitals need MRI machines to take accurate images in order to make proper diagnoses. Construction companies need boom lifts to build multi-story buildings, and auto manufacturers have a whole dealer network and extended independent repair facility network to support in order to keep their cars, trucks and vans safe and on-the-road.
Manufacturers of complex equipment support their products after the initial sale in order to maintain high performance standards for their customers. But supporting that equipment is challenging. Sometimes manufacturers work with third party vendors to contract that support. Other times, they maintain their own staff to supply parts, and perform service or warranty work. Either way, aftermarket support is a necessary function for customer loyalty and continued success.
Make It or Buy It?
The first question when considering aftermarket support software is whether to develop the software in-house or purchase it out of the box (OOTB). Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) wrestle with this question regardless of whether they hire third party maintenance vendors or field their own maintenance teams to do the work. Their challenge is how to provide the parts and service information needed to keep their equipment (and their customers) up and running.
Benefits of Out Of The Box Aftermarket Software
While there are many pros and cons to both making and buying and aftermarket solution, we think there are some compelling reasons to choose an out of the box aftermarket software solution. Here’s why:
Software Development as a Core Competency
Software development is an arduous task, requiring a dedicated team of developers and a steady budget. Manufacturers undertaking an in-house, custom software development approach must step outside their core manufacturing competency to create proficiency in an entirely different discipline – software development. This shifts the focus away from what the manufacturer does best – produce products.
Instead, valuable time, money and attention is spent building a team, employing a highly trained staff of developers, and incurring expenses to maintain the team’s education in coding, hardware and ongoing knowledge of new and upcoming technologies. It can be done, but is not the best use of assets or resources. Mis-appropriation of valuable resources may result. In-house development staff members become overburdened with routine daily activity, interruptions and user troubleshooting for desktop applications, which compromises development time and the quality of the resultant software.
A better option is for manufacturers to do what they do best, and outsource the rest. Choose an established out of the box software developed by a company whose sole business is software development and that specializes in the task at hand. Enigma is a great example. Our InService EPC software is an electronic parts catalogs specializing in delivering critical OEM parts and service information for aftermarket maintenance of complex equipment – within a dealer environment, in-house field service teams or outsourced service companies. Our sole purpose is to develop software that provides an entire system for implementation, bug fixes, updates and compatibility. We build parts and service best practices directly into the framework of the software to improve the function and operability of a company’s service business. Manufacturers are then freed to concentrate on performance of their own core business function.
Scalability refers to the ability of the software to support an increasing numbers of users, devices and workloads without data transfers slowing down. If built with scalability in mind, software grows as a company grows – expanding to meet increasing demands while delivering the same high levels of productivity. This doesn’t just mean adding hardware to support increased activity, but ensuring that data integrity between application instances remains constant and synchronization across work processes remains stable. It takes into account security, equipment uptime, and integration with other business applications to improve the flow of information and commerce.
Scalability can be difficult to achieve. Matt Aimonetti, a Senior Software Architect at LivingSocial best describes the concept of scalability in his personal developer’s blog by saying:
“Designing beautiful and scalable software is hard. Really hard.
It’s hard for many reasons. But what makes it even harder is that software scalability is a relatively new challenge, something only really done in big companies, companies that are not really keen on sharing their knowledge. The amount of academic work done on software design is quite limited compared to other types of design, but shared knowledge about scalable design is almost nonexistent (Don’t expect to find detailed information about scaling online video games either, the industry is super secretive. And even if this is a niche market where finding skilled/experienced developers is really challenging, information is not shared outside a game project).”
Scalability makes aftermarket software flexible. It adjusts and allows businesses to adapt to changing market demands by growing rather than replacing the software system. Enigma’s InService EPC software application is created with scalability in mind. It extends the capacity and capability, without the need for new infrastructure, additional personnel, or the development of new software.
Time and Money Savings – Add More Value with Fewer Resources
The argument of core competencies and scalability should be reason enough to consider out of the box aftermarket parts and service software, but the issues of time and money really drive the point home.
Manufacturers today are being asked to deliver more value with fewer resources. The Manufacturing Institute and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) partnered to produce the 2011 Structural Cost Study. The key finding was that U.S. manufacturers face a 20.0% structural cost burden in the global market compared to manufacturers in our nine largest trading partner countries. This is up from 17.6% in 2008.
To be globally competitive, OEMs are looking for ways to realize bottom line savings quickly with only modest investment. Out of the box software solutions deliver. InService EPC’s out of the box parts catalog furnishes OEMs with shorter implementation periods while Enigma works with them on issues of hosting, data prep, training, testing, and integration. Once in place, InService EPC saves money by providing scheduled updates and improved functionality without the burdensome costs associated with an in-house team.
Equipment uptime is critical. And manufacturers will do what it takes to support their products after the initial sale in order to maintain high performance standards for their customers. Enigma’s out of the box electronic parts catalog software can help make that happen.
Tags: aftermarket, electronic parts catalogue, parts and service, parts catalog, parts catalogues, shopping carts, InService EPC, dvautier, diane vautier, electronic parts catalog, epc software, software
The term “Losing to no decision” is a phrase sales reps use when their potential customer, after a lengthy exploration and proposal process, elects to take no action at all, rather than choose a solution from the sales rep or his (her) competitors. The process ends in stagnation, without a sale – a very discouraging experience for the sales rep trying to close the deal.
A Company’s “No Decision” Perspective
But if we look at the same scenario from the perspective of the company that had been searching for a solution to their business challenge, there are even more serious consequences. The company (and its staff) is worse off than when it began the search, with little to show for all the effort. The lack of action has spurred frustration about the project – possibly discouraging future problem seeking, wasted valuable resources and man-hours exploring the options while the opportunity is unrealized and the original problem is left unresolved.
Avoid Losing to No Decision
Let’s say that you are one of several aftermarket Regional Service Managers of a manufacturing company that makes high-ticket complex equipment like medical imaging machines, industrial robotic assembly components or mining equipment. Congratulations if you actually are the Regional Service Manager. If not, you can always aspire, right?
For a long while now, you’ve been thinking about making recommendations to senior staff that you feel will help the maintenance team become a more active contributor to revenue generation. You want to suggest that the company include additional functionality to the existing parts catalog or upgrade altogether to a highly functional electronic parts catalog.
You’re confident that such a move will reduce costs by providing more accurate parts and service information, streamlining service technician work flow, improving field service performance and minimizing parts misorders. You also know that deeper integration with the company’s business system would give your team access to parts pricing and availability and a built-in shopping cart ordering process would result in increased parts sales.
The only challenge is that you don’t know how to go about making the suggestion in a way that will have impact rather than being ignored. Here is what Enigma has found to be a solid foundation for moving through an electronic parts catalog project and making the right decision to resolve the challenge.
- Have a Goal: Maybe you don’t know all the upfront features, benefits and details like the Regional Service Manager example above. Maybe you just intuitively know that there’s a better way to do things. Any good idea has to be intellectually tangible to gain support, so avoid uneasy vagueness and establish clear goals of what you hope to accomplish. In the example above, the aftermarket manager wants to help the service department become a more active revenue generator.
- Identify Key Stakeholders: Not everyone is going to agree with your great ideas and that’s OK. You only need to gain the confidence of the people who have a direct interest or influence in the decision. This may be the service staff who may be most impacted, the IT department who would oversee integration, and of course the Regional VP who would benefit from an integrated electronic parts catalog or have the authority to veto its progress. Stakeholders are different for every project or company. Figure out who they are and start earning their trust and support. Decision makers can make or break your project.
- Assemble Your Team: Seek out people who share your keen insights, can influence stakeholders or support your efforts. They are your partners, your teammates, and your allies in transforming your inert environment into a dynamic one. They will help keep the project on course. It may be someone like the parts manager who may benefit from increased sales, the top field service technician willing to share insights and experience, or the new IT assistant eager to prove him or herself to the IT department manager. One surprising resource is the electronic parts catalog vendor. Vendors can provide the facts or structure you need to support your position. For example Enigma makes available an RFP sample that can drastically reduce the time and effort put into identifying and organizing the important project details.
- Build a Business Case: Anyone who is responsible for the profit and loss (P&L) of a department or company appreciates when you make a business case that speaks their language. Relate your goals to dollars – what costs will be reduced and by how much will the expected revenue increase? You can still include less concrete results like increased customer satisfaction, but don’t leave out the obvious connection to the immediate P&L bottom line.
Now that you have defined a clear goal, identified the stakeholders, assembled your team, and built a business case, you’re ready and able to help your company move forward with solid decision making.
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