The Uptime Blog
Every parts supplier or service department with a parts counter has a system for managing their replacement parts. So why then do some companies have us singing their praises while others make us curse the experience?
It’s the system, silly
Surprisingly, some parts management systems are still pretty basic with a manual means of receiving, storing, retrieving and reordering parts. This is slow, inaccurate and prone to mistakes. So unless you have a superstar parts guy with a photographic memory who is personally overseeing your interaction, your experience is likely to be much like the system itself, slow and inaccurate.
Other parts management systems may be partially automated, or managed through personal spreadsheets of parts and service information that gets manually updated on an irregular schedule. These semi-automated systems help, but lack the consistency of data and the scalability to adapt to growing businesses. They also lack the capacity to be integrated system-wide on an enterprise level and fail to provide the immediacy of parts and service information needed to make timely repairs.
The parts management systems that are the most effective are those that are integrated on an enterprise level across the entire business unit and tied into the company’s ERP system so that mechanics, service technicians and parts managers can easily identify parts, see recommendations on related assembly parts, and have updates available to help improve service which ultimately improves equipment performance and uptime. These systems help service technicians quickly and accurately find, order, and install the right part for the piece of equipment.
Inefficient systems contribute to cost and complexity
Parts and Service managers relying on manual or semi-automated systems of parts management however are less efficient or accurate, adding to the complexity of the experience and costing more. Consider these points.
- Parts carrying costs: There is a cost associated with having a part in inventory. If too many of the same part are on the shelves, they increase warehouse costs. If too few are available, repair time is extended while parts are ordered, received and distributed. The trick is to accurately estimate the necessary parts to keep the fleet (or customers fleet) up and running without overstocking.
- Parts ordering costs: There is a cost associated with ordering parts. The less sophisticated the parts management system, the higher the per order cost of parts including finding the correct part, calling for availability, issuing a purchase order, shipping (or delivery), receiving, stocking, and order delivery. The fewer the steps or the more automated and accurate the system for delivering the information, the more cost efficient parts identification and ordering can be.
- Service update costs: There is a cost to keeping multiple service locations or multiple mobile service technicians up to date on the newest parts, part numbers, service bulletins, or service training information. Outdated service information causes the wrong parts to be ordered, extends repair times, and unhappy customers.
- Information distribution costs: There is a cost of keeping field technicians, service departments, mechanics and parts managers informed on critical parts and service information. Parts catalog production, printing (or even electronic media preparation like parts catalog CD’s), and distribution can be a costly endeavor. Especially when multiple locations, dealer networks or field service crews are involved.
- Parts mis-order costs: There is a cost to parts mis-orders, which are due in large part to information being inaccurate or outdated (see 4. Information distribution costs). Returns, reorders, and delayed time to repair are costly contributors to equipment repair or maintenance.
Whether you’re the OEM operating your own in-house service department, a dealership working with your OEM or an end user of a piece of complex equipment, running a less than optimum parts catalog system yields the same results. It takes more time, effort and money to keep the equipment running. You, your dealers or your customers pay inflated costs and get an unsatisfactory service experience.
Moving toward a new model
While some parts management teams try to implement one or more single point solutions (like adding more frequent parts catalog distributions, an easier ordering processes, or warehouse inventory improvements) to make parts and service management more organized and keep the high cost of parts management in check, a more holistic approach produces a better result.
A complete service management system is a new approach that is finding support in the service community. Just as Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) consolidated the concept of business integration into a product lifecycle management type of structure, service lifecycle management (SLM) is now helping to bring together individually run yet related service units inside a service organization. It’s a cross-functional system that supports the service eco-system of a business that enables a full lifecycle approach to customer service and product performance. It optimizes the total value of the customer experience. And it’s how companies will learn to earn more service profitability.
InService EPC, Enigma’s electronic parts catalog is one of several service related software components that integrate together to form a stronger, more holistic service approach. We’re part of the burgeoning SLM concept designed, developed and now coming together under the PTC service lifecycle management approach.
According to University of Cambridge Professer and servitization expert Andy Nealy
, “[s]ervitization is the innovation of organisation’s capabilities and processes to better create mutual value through a shift from selling product to selling Product-Service Systems. A Product-Service System is an integrated product and service offering that delivers value in use. A Servitized Organisation designs, builds and delivers an integrated product and service offering that delivers value in use.”
Simply put, it is the process of adding services to a product. Especially important for complex equipment, servitization extends the value of a product throughout its entire life cycle, not just its initial purchase. It redefines the provider and customer relationship by transforming the traditional short-term transactional exchange of a product into a long-term relationship with service over the life of the product. Is servitization something new or was it here all along?
There are differing opinions when it comes to the emergence of servitization on the manufacturing scene. While some argue that servitization has long been part of manufacturing, others maintain it has been a recently observed phenomenon.
Indiana University Operations Management Professor Roger W. Schmenner
suggests that servitization has antecedents that go back 150 years but simply wasn’t an attractive revenue stream for some manufacturers with high production capabilities. It wasn’t their core competency. Schmenner says that “[t]he bundling of manufactured goods to downstream-available services was led by companies with new products but with no great manufacturing strengths, as a way to establish barriers to entry. Companies with significant manufacturing capabilities were not as quick or as complete in their integration of manufacturing and service.”
In a research paper, Baines, Lightfoot, Benedettini and Kay
say that “[i]n management related literature, servitization development is commonly traced back to the early 1990s. However, Davies et al. (2007) point out that the industrial marketing literature suggests that pioneering applications originated in the 1960s with the introduction of ‘systems selling’ strategies”.
Whichever theory you believe, long established practice or recent arrival, servitization is a topic that is spurring lively debate in the search for additional sources of revenue in the highly competitive manufacturing landscape. Is service revenue growing?
Much has been written about the growing aftermarket parts and service industry as it relates to complex equipment, including posts on our own blog (Complex Equipment and Aftermarket Support Are Like Peas and Carrots
). But is the idea of boundless service revenue fact or fiction?
According to a University of Cambridge research paper The Servitization of Manufacturing: Further Evidence
by Neely, Benedetinni and Visnjic, the scale of servitization is less remarkable than one might think. Their initial worldwide 2007 and subsequent 2011 estimates reveal that the number of “servitized” manufacturing firms stands unchanged at roughly 30%. The United States experiences the highest level of servitization with 58% in 2007 and 55% in 2011. China saw the most significant increase from less than 1% to 19%. With the exception of China, servitization worldwide doesn’t appear to be vastly or immediately reshaping the world.
While they report that “there have been widespread efforts to servitize,” they go on to describe the “servitization paradox” – that “some firms that have decided to servitize achieve superior financial results, while others achieve superior financial results remaining as a pure manufacturing firm.” Schmenner’s theory that highly proficient manufacturers don’t experience success in servitization may be one explanation for low adoption, but there’s more to the equation than is being considered. And that is the application of technology.Servitization at the center of convergence
Products, services, technology and manufacturing don’t operate in a vacuum. They are becoming increasingly connected at an amazing rate. It is at this point of convergence where servitization is poised to redefine how we structure the business models of manufacturing and aftermarket services. Manufacturers not willing to embrace and incorporate technology will find themselves at the shallow end of the servitization revenue pool.
Unlike traditional manufacturing, which has learned best production practices since the days of the industrial revolution, clear cut paths to successful servitization have not been as easy to find or follow. Big Data
, Performance Dashboards
, and Mobility
are just now emerging, establishing themselves as valuable tools in navigating the route to servitization success. Enigma's InService MRO
and InService EPC
have been leaders in defining that road map. We have developed tools that complex equipment manufacturers use to successfully extend, manage, and capitalize on aftermarket services. It’s the path that manufacturing has been searching for.
As PTC president and chief executive officer James Heppelmann relayed to customers at the company’s annual PTC Live Global
meeting, “The world of building stuff is being transformed into a world of building services tied to stuff.” Complex products, by their very nature will also contribute to the servitization of manufacturing. Complex equipment and the data they generate, collect and share through the Internet of Things
will become part of the service history that manufacturers will use to service their products through their full life cycle. This concept is bigger than us all individually. It is life altering.
Technology is the change agent in connecting the manufacturer of complex products with the aftermarket service of those products. As forward looking organizations like Enigma and PTC combine their expertise
, servitization will become more widely attainable, pushing the scale higher and opening new avenues of revenue for manufacturers.
We have some exciting news to share. Enigma has made a strategic decision to join PTC (NASDAQ: PMTC) in order to provide our customers with a single source of service support. PTC is a leading provider of technology solutions that transforms how products are created and serviced.
For years Enigma has supported the service efforts of our maintenance and manufacturing customers with a best-in-class parts and service information delivery system. Our InService MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) software supports the maintenance, repair and overhaul of capital equipment such as aircraft, locomotives and other complex assets. Our InService EPC (electronic parts catalog) software is a superior web-native application that enables OEMs to easily publish and distribute accurate, updated parts and service information for their field service teams and dealer/distributor networks.
We’ve built quite an impressive list of national and international customers – Ford, FedEx, American Eagle (a network of American Airlines), Korean Air, Rolls-Royce Defence, Bobcat, DitchWitch, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), and the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy to name just a few. For all our customers, Enigma has become an integral component of their core service operations.
Our decision to join PTC was driven by a desire to provide our customers with a more complete system for managing their products and aftermarket service efforts from start to finish. Enigma will become a vital part of PTC’s existing service lifecycle management (SLM) solution to thoroughly address the organizational, operational, and technological change which companies must tackle to emerge as competitive service-driven enterprises in the global marketplace.
Existing Enigma customers will benefit from the combined resources of Enigma and PTC – two global organizations with the common goal of delivering more value across the full service lifecycle of complex equipment. New customers will get a more complete solution to their product and service lifecycle by combining InService MRO and InService EPC with existing PTC SLM offerings. Distributed manufacturing industries worldwide gain a striking competitive advantage to keep them ahead of competitors with technologies that span the planning, delivery and analysis of service operations.
As we integrate into the PTC business structure and blend our parts and service software solutions into the more comprehensive offerings of PTC, we’ll continue to communicate with customers and partners. Customers can still contact technical support through the Enigma Support Portal, where you’ll reach the same trusted technical team that you already know, have built a rapport with, and have come to rely on. And of course, you can contact your Enigma representative, who is available to answer any questions you may have.
We’re excited to be joining PTC and hope you share in our enthusiasm. We’re looking forward to being part of a larger team of global leaders in the service lifecycle management space in which parts, service and aftermarket support of complex equipment thrives.
Pit stops are one of the most exciting and critical elements of a Formula One Grand Prix race. A successful pit stop can mean the difference between earning the chequered flag or rolling across the finish line along with the rest of the F1 pack. It can make or break a race for both driver and crew. Of course, core to every team’s success is a fast turnaround, regardless of what needs doing – be it fresh fuel, wheel replacements, an inspection to remove debris from the car, or the replacement of any damaged parts such as the nose assembly. Jobs that might take an afternoon at your local garage are crammed into a mere few seconds.
Interestingly enough, only the day after this year’s British Grand Prix – an exciting race with an inordinate number of pit stops as a result of the Pirelli tyre failures – was it announced on the BBC News that train and bus companies have started working with the Williams Formula One team to help improve their maintenance service. The infusion of pit crew mentality into fleet transportation maintenance is producing amazing results where train maker Alstom Transport managed to turn a two day repair job into a four hour repair job after watching the F1 maintenance team at work.
So if F1 teams have been able to perfect this process why hasn’t the rest of the maintenance world also managed it? After all, this is not rocket science! For years, everybody has been talking about optimizing the maintenance process and is acutely aware that long equipment downtime results in poor customer satisfaction and loss of revenue to the maintenance company.
According to F1 teams the answer is simple and has two main points:
1. Make sure you have the right part in the right place with the right engineer at the right time
2. Make sure mechanics know what to expect, beforehand, so they can get everything ready to go
And I couldn’t agree more! Point one makes it clear that effective parts management is a vital component of well-organized fleet maintenance and repair, while point two stresses the importance of an integrated diagnostics system. This reinforces exactly what we have been saying for years at Enigma, and what our InService MRO solution provides when it is integrated with a diagnostics system.
Mechanics at the base or workshop can receive malfunction notifications directly from the diagnostic system, thus enabling them to start to trace the fault before they even see the equipment. When integrated with the technical information, the mechanic not only rapidly finds the source of the problem but also ascertains the precise steps that will need to be performed to fix it, and also critically the exact parts needed for the job. The final piece of the jigsaw is the ability to order parts directly from the parts catalog so that no time is lost in this seamless process, thereby ensuring that the parts are ready for when the equipment comes in for repair and resulting in a complete synergy of parts, people and preparedness.
So what is everyone waiting for? Perhaps the bus and train companies are going to lead the way with Formula One race crew tactics and other industries will follow. Watch this space, as they say.
Tags: electronic parts catalogue, Electronic parts catalogs, InService EPC, diane vautier, InService MRO, electronic parts catalogs, google reader, uptime, uptime blog, RSS, feed reader
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We hope you’ll continue to follow and enjoy our Uptime Blog where we talk about parts catalogs, MRO related topics and keeping all kinds of complex equipment up and running. Please share our stories and give us feedback by way of comments.
It would be difficult to manufacture anything without an accurate manufacturing bill of materials (mBOM) – that list of items (and instructions) that are cut, molded, welded, wired and assembled into a finished product. So why would some manufacturers expect their dealers and in-house technicians to service that same equipment without a service bill of materials (sBOM)– that list of serviceable parts and repair instructions that provide a critical maintenance road map for the life of the piece? Each bill of material serves a different purpose in the lifecycle of a product from conception, design and manufacture to service and finally disposal.
While much attention is paid to the early stages in a product’s life – the excitement of an idea being born, the exploration of engineering design and the satisfaction of commercially producing a piece of equipment for sale, not as much consideration is paid to equipment servicing during its useful life, and eventual end of life. It is during the “useful life” that a service bill of materials (sBOM) can make or break a revenue stream for makers of complex equipment. Having one can open up a healthy, free-flowing parts and service revenue stream, while not having one can choke revenues to a trickle.
Why is Aftermarket Parts and Service Important?
The aftermarket service of equipment and parts replacement during a piece of complex equipment’s most productive time – its useful life – is where we see the an outstanding opportunity to capture revenue. According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, in their report, “360 Degree Perspective of the North American Automotive Aftermarket", the aftermarket is expected to have an annual compounded growth rate of 2.3% from 2010 through 2017 – that’s over 91.0 Billion dollars in expected revenue. That’s good news for the automotive aftermarket industry but what about manufacturers of other types of complex equipment?
Similarities to other complex equipment manufacturing industries lead us to believe that they too have much in common with the aftermarket trends in the automotive industry. For instance, comparable economic forces are exerting the same kind of pressure on the healthcare industry. How Cars are Like CAT Scan Machines — What the Medical Device Industry Can Learn from Automotive Manufacturing.
Knowing how lucrative aftermarket parts and service can be and understanding the importance of providing the information needed to perform the work, two things become clear. Manufacturers need a functioning service bill of materials, and they need to quickly and accurately deliver it to their dealer network or in-house service staff for use through an electronic parts catalog.
What’s in a sBOM and why is it so special?
A service bill of materials contains a list of serviceable parts, which can be considerably different than the materials used to design or produce the equipment itself. A serviceable part is an individual part, assembly or component that can (or is designed to be) serviced separately after the equipment is assembled and sold. It is the service bill of material or sBOM that supports the equipment maintenance, repair and servicing after the sale. There are two important ways that the sBOM is different than the mBOM.
In-house assemblies. During manufacture the production team may use many small parts to create an assembly or component that is included in the piece of equipment – let’s say a suspension arm. Engineers designed the component for replacement, not repair meaning if any individual part that makes up the welded piece malfunctioned or wore out, the whole component would be replaced, not the individual plate steel parts of which it is made.
Purchased Assemblies. Now let’s say that the production team outsources some components that make up their equipment – a drive axel assembly for example. They install the ready-made drive axel during their production process. Although the drive axel is purchased as one ‘part’, it has been engineered for repair (ie. bearings and bushings) rather than full replacement like the suspension arm.
Negative Impact of using a mBOM as a sBOM
Using an mBOM to support the repair and maintenance of complex equipment rather than preparing and using a sBOM can shrink parts and service revenue as well as future new equipment revenue. Here’s why:
- Parts Ordering – parts used for manufacturing are not always the same as serviceable parts. Confusion on parts identification can cause mis-orders, missed or omitted parts needed to perform the repair, high rates of part returns and delays in repair resulting in costly equipment downtime.
- Repair Costs – there is a real cost to OEMs to repair complex equipment including both the parts themselves and the labor to perform it. Misinformation on parts, poor order processing, and not having access to the right repair and installation information all contribute to higher repair costs and less service and parts profit.
- Warranty – OEMs and customers incur costs associated with warranty items. For OEMs, the cost of warranty increases if the wrong parts are repaired/replaced. For instance, service technicians may not be aware that a warrantee part may include the replacement of surrounding parts that impact the life of the warranty part. In similar fashion, if a warranty applies to an assembly designed for replacement, but the mechanic doing the repair references the mBOM instead of the sBOM, he/she may perform a repair on part of the assembly rather than replace it, voiding the warranty for the customer. Additional time and materials costs to fix the errors drive up costs.
- Customer Satisfaction – in-house service technicians or the service team of a OEMs dealer network have a big impact on custom satisfaction. The purchase of the equipment may have been a positive experience, but long after the memory of that experience fades, the service team is still interacting and representing the brand and the product. Ongoing negative experiences with service can lessen customer satisfaction ultimately resulting in less goodwill, fewer referrals and/or repeat purchases.
Maintaining a service bill of material is important step in widening the aftermarket parts and service revenue. Distributing that information is just as important. Without a clear method of distribution the value of the sBOM is lost in a sea of inaccessible data. It must be available to dealer and service support staff to realize the real value. InService EPC (Electronic Parts Catalog) is a superior web-native application that enables OEMs to easily publish and distribute accurate, updated parts and service information for their dealer/distributor networks, opening the floodgates to aftermarket revenue.
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.
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