The Uptime Blog
In October, Enigma was a guest speaker at the ATA e-Business Forum and delivered a presentation about tablets on the tarmac, which focused on helping aircraft mechanics get the information they need while out on the flight line. But the story of tablets is applicable to any industry where technicians must work in remote, restricted or challenging environments.
Tablets promise higher productivity for just about everyone involved in aftermarket service and parts: technicians, inspectors, engineers, parts managers, planners, etc. Tablets promise that maintenance tasks will be performed faster and more accurately, which will decrease mean time to repair (MTTR), increase first time fix (FTF) rates and reduce no fault found (NFF) events. The problem is that it takes more than tablets to deliver on those promises. For companies to realize these benefits, the tablet-wielding workforce must also be rewarded for their achievements, otherwise any efficiency gains might get spent on longer lunch breaks. Furthermore, industries that rely on organized labor may run into contractual issues before they get buy-in from mechanics and engineers. And so tablet promises come with some strings attached.
This raises an interesting question, “Do tablets offer any benefits that are independent of workforce cooperation?” In a word that benefit is “visibility.” Tablets offer visibility into the parts, processes, products and people involved in service and parts decisions – visibility into how people approach maintenance tasks and visibility into why some are successful and others are not. Tablets allow the collection and analysis of “big data” straight from the field (i.e. at the point of service). Such passive data collection provides insight to part selection, purchasing and service processes, and to problems with training and product quality, without being a burden on the workforce.
Despite all the hype about tablets improving maintenance and repair, the real opportunity is less about service productivity and more about sales strategy. Tablets provide the necessary link to understand aftermarket parts and service workflows. By exposing bottlenecks, inconsistencies and missed opportunities, companies can fully optimize their parts strategy and streamline service offerings. And that represents a much higher value than simple mobility.
Tags: electronic parts catalogue, service technicians, automotive, FTFR, No Fault Found, warranty, EPC, InService EPC, John Snow, electronic parts catalog, epc software
According to an article in USA Today there’s a: serious shortage of skilled auto mechanics looming. The article says, “There is already competition among auto dealers in many parts of the nation to hire or retain good technicians. The bigger worry is whether there will be enough younger workers in a few years as a wave of midcareer mechanics hits retirement age. “We're finding we're going to run short of technicians in the very near future,” says Rich Orbain, manager for General Motors' Service Technical College.”
The article makes clear that the biggest risk to consumers is not for routine maintenance but rather for more complex tasks that require troubleshooting and fault isolation. Advanced diagnostic systems may tell a technician which systems have gone wrong but won’t necessarily explain why. As a result, inexperienced mechanics may resort to pop-and-swap repair procedures where they simply replace parts one-at-a-time until the diagnostic system says that all is well. The problem with this approach is cost–lots and lots of additional cost.
- For vehicles under warranty, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) absorbs the cost of all the “good” parts that were replaced.
- For vehicles not under warranty, the customer pays.
- Replaced parts are typically tested by the OEM (or component vendor) to identify which ones are faulty and which ones have “no-fault-found” (NFF).
- Parts that can be repaired/refurbished are then sold on the secondary market.
Given the potential costs associated with a bad diagnosis, today’s master mechanic is the equivalent of a high-tech field engineer. They must have expertise around powertrain technology spanning 30 years or more, including: carburetors, fuel injection, ignition systems, turbo chargers, manual transmissions, automatic transmissions (mechanical and electronic), hybrids, all-electric and advanced diesel engines. A modern vehicle may have over 20 computer chips managing different systems, each of which uses software that must “play nicely” with other software systems. (Eliminating the key from the ignition—replacing it with a “push to start” button—is the final evidence of cars becoming rolling computers.)
So what is to be done? According to the research, in the near future there won’t be enough mechanics with the skills required to fix cars. The complexity of modern vehicles means that small, independent service stations won’t be able to afford specialist mechanics and diagnostic tools and so more and more repair work will go to dealers or large maintenance outfits (e.g. Sears Auto Centers). But even these well-stocked locations won’t be able to hire master mechanics because they won’t exist. People aren’t choosing auto repair as a career path.
The only way to solve this problem is for OEMs to take ownership of the solution. If OEMs can find a way to simplify access to accurate service, parts and diagnostic information then less experienced technicians can still get the job done. Service and parts information is usually delivered to dealers and mechanics as a series of separate manuals and catalogs. OEMs have been playing around with electronic parts catalogs (EPC) for years but most of them outsource it to 3rd party suppliers (like ARI and Snap-on), effectively divorcing themselves from the solution. Unfortunately, 3rd party EPCs don’t have the know-how to fully integrate an OEMs diagnostic, service and parts information so dealers have a fully automated workflow—the way they do in the airline industry. As a result, pop-and-swap maintenance, NFF and warranty costs continue to increase. And the whole time this is happening, the OEM’s reputation is getting more and more tarnished.
Toward the end of the article, Jose Ramirez, an instructor at Los Angeles Trade Technical College highlights the challenge of working on modern cars, “Sure, a car's computer may spit out a ‘trouble code’ to report what system is malfunctioning. But that's not enough. It's a matter of how to diagnose that trouble code. You have to play around with it."
“You have to play around with it.” Is that really what the OEMs want their customers to hear? For those OEMs willing to take control of their service and parts market, Enigma stands ready to help.
Tags: parts and service, service information, field service, customer support, FTFR, Interlog, parts logistics, parts ordering, No Fault Found, Enigma, John Snow
How can OEMs reduce inventory and logistics costs? That was the question being asked at Interlog 2012 (in Dallas) and most presentations focused on either improving logistics or on the importance of customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, these discussions were fairly process oriented, which made them more tactical than strategic. The inventory and logistics conversations revolved around optimizing inventory levels, safety stock and fill rates while the customer satisfaction conversations focused on improving fix first time (FFT) rates (service quality). However, none of the presentations discussed whether or not there is a connection between the two, which raises an interesting question, “Does the pursuit of higher service quality drive up inventory and logistics costs?”
This is not an idle question, it came directly from a conversation I had with a VP of Support Operations. His company partners with various third-parties to service their equipment in the field. To ensure customer satisfaction, technicians get bonuses if they achieve certain FFT levels. However, he’s starting to wonder if FFT bonuses are prompting technicians to order more parts than necessary (driving up returns and re-stocking fees), to perform “pop and swap” maintenance (resulting in more parts with no fault found (NFF)), or to pursue other short-cuts that improve FFT but ultimately drive up costs. To that end, he's been trying to monitor technicians in the field to see if they’re using the proper service procedures before starting a repair.
From our conversation, it’s clear there are three distinct inventory and logistics problems related to field service: ordering the wrong parts; ordering too many parts; replacing “good” parts. Each of these represents a type of misorder. However, none of these misorder problems can be fixed by inventory management systems, which was the primary topic at Interlog. Misorder problems can only be solved by the technicians—giving them better tools that provide accurate service and parts information, configuration-based bills of materials (BOMs), and integrated workflows (tied into ecommerce, inventory and logistics). When service technicians are basing decisions on poor data, or when they have to search for the information they need, is it any wonder that inventory and logistics costs increase?
According to the companies I spoke to, service organizations that focus on quality see a clear pattern emerging:
- Technicians pack more parts than needed to fix a job (over ordering).
- Any extra parts are saved by the technician for future use (trunk spares that can’t be easily tracked as inventory).
- Technicians try to accelerate repairs by replacing different components one after the other until the problem goes away (pop & swap).
- Rather than determine the faulty component, each replaced part is returned to the OEM and tested to identify which one(s) failed (or determine NFF).
- NFF components are processed and returned to inventory (re-stocking fees).
In other words, as OEMs offer FFT incentives technicians are responding by ordering too many parts, stashing them locally, ignoring repair procedures, and replacing perfectly good components…all without any repercussions for their actions.
Enigma believes that improving service quality is critical to our customer’s success however, the methods used to raise quality levels are important. Recognizing that the service and parts business is essential to OEM profits, OEMs need to move beyond customer satisfaction via simple FFT bonuses and start asking better questions. To get an objective view of their aftermarket business, OEMs should be:
- Tracking how many parts are requested for each customer, for each type of equipment, for each service visit, for each service organization, for each service technician.
- Tracking NFF rates for each customer, for each type of equipment, for each service visit, for each service organization, for each service technician.
- Tracking the number of parts requests and service calls where all returned parts were "good" (all NFFs), all returned parts were "bad" (no NFFs), one or more returned parts were NFF (judgment call).
- Tracking which service organizations and service technicians are using approved service procedures.
- Tracking which service procedures or part selections are causing the most difficulty for technicians (without resorting to surveys or feedback from the field).
- Monitoring differences in how technicians approach corrective maintenance vs. preventive maintenance.
These are just a few of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that help uncover problems within aftermarket service and support. OEMs that know some of these numbers can start to ask the next question, which is “what to do about it?” However, capturing an accurate picture of field service doesn’t come from technicians filling out post-service reports and surveys; it comes from monitoring the actual tools that technicians use to perform their jobs.
To maximize customer satisfaction and minimize support costs, OEMs need to continuously improve service quality while simultaneously reducing inventory and logistics costs. New tools are required that not only report on the situation in the field, but also provide an integrated system that improves the technician’s performance as they execute service and support.
If your company is facing service and parts challenges, contact Enigma. We can help.
Field Service 2012 is being hosted in Las Vegas from April 16-19 and Jonathan Yaron, Enigma’s CEO, will be participating in a panel called “Delivering Faster Service With Higher Quality And Fewer Support Calls: Integrating Knowledge Tools And Technical Libraries.” After talking to the panel moderator, it’s clear that the panel has a single goal: to help the audience learn how to improve field service speed and quality.
A number of questions have been planned to engage the panelists, but audience participation will be the key to success for the session. To avoid spilling any secrets we’ll share four of the panel questions, just to get your minds working.
1. What are some of the goals of a knowledge library?
- Faster service/ higher uptime
- More (and bigger) service level agreements (SLA)
- Lower warranty/ no fault found (NFF) costs
2. What are the best sources of information—both quality and quantity?
- Field service
- Customer/ technical support
3. What type of information should go into the knowledge library?
- Fault isolation/ troubleshooting
- Service manuals/ bulletins
- Part lists/ BOM/ Illustrations
- Best practices/ best known methods (BKM)
4. What are the best ways to deliver knowledge to field service, engineers, customers?
- Online, offline, mobile
- Training—internal, field, customers, etc.
- Controlling user access—protecting intellectual property (IP)
All of these topics, and more, will be addressed at Field Service 2012 in Las Vegas so we hope to see you there. If you go, please attend the panel session and then stop by the booth to speak with Jonathan. You can also see a live demo of Enigma’s InService® EPC product. Enigma’s panel session is scheduled for 2:00 pm on the 17th, and we will be demonstrating our field service solutions in booth #5.
With the holidays upon us (and four years of blog posts behind us), we thought this week would be a good time to reflect on a few of our most popular blog posts.
To all our readers: Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa!
Automation and Integration: A Conversation with British Airways and SAP about Aircraft MRO
Here’s a blog that summarizes a great webinar that Enigma co-sponsored with SAP and Air Transport World, featuring guest speakers Alun Pryer, the Design Authority Head of Engineering at British Airways, and Phil Te Hau, SAP’s Director of Solution Management for Airlines. The topic was “The Challenges of Aircraft Provisioning, Configuration and Maintenance Execution,” which has been of great interest to airlines and MRO shops. Pryer describes how British Airways is working to increase efficiency within maintenance and engineering.
Improving First Time Fix Rates — It’s Not About Scheduling
Field Service Management is a crowded technology field, and there’s much ado about the importance of scheduling service calls to improve first-time fix rates (FTFR). But what good is it to get a technician to the service call if he doesn’t have the right parts and service information at his fingertips? Even service technicians with “the right talent” can’t fix everything if they don’t have updated/accurate parts and service information.
OEM Data: The New Flying Fortress
Airplanes need to be serviced and replenished so that they can keep generating revenue. For that, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems exist: managing inventory, resources, planning and scheduling. In simple words, the ERP determines "who does what, when, and where?" Unfortunately, the technical documentation provided by manufacturers, which describes "how" to fix the airplanes, is not built to support modern airlines and their ERP systems. Using the B-17 analogy, it seems that OEMs care less about the "flying" and more about the "fortress."
A recent blog post by Sally Foster, a Technology Service Industry Association (TSIA) blogger, focuses on how much time an equipment owner loses when he/she must wait for a service technician. She writes mainly in terms of the hours that customers lose (while on the phone with customer support), or waiting for a service technician to show up. Foster references a TIME Moneyland article that says that nationwide we lost $38 billion in the last year, waiting for in-home service.
Indeed, as consumers most of us can probably recall situations where we have waited a very long time for a technician to show up, or where we spent hours on the phone with customer support trying to resolve a problem. We are not only frustrated that our equipment isn’t working, we are doubly frustrated that we have to spend time just trying to get someone to fix it.
Although it’s interesting to read about the value of consumers’ lost time, it would have been better if Foster had written about the costs that businesses incur when they have to wait for their equipment to be repaired. In various industries, getting efficient, effective service for broken equipment is even more important because they typically lose revenue opportunities when their equipment is down.
The cost of downtime varies, depending on the amount of revenue the equipment generates per day/hour and the demand for its use. In the aviation industry downtime is extremely costly; it’s been estimated that an airline can lose as much as $250,000 per day when an aircraft is on the ground (commonly referred to as AOG). But what about other industries? When a car is undergoing service the costs are not so dear, but for a piece of heavy equipment like a crane or bulldozer, the lost opportunity costs can be significant, perhaps thousands of dollars per day. The costs are even more substantial for something like an MRI machine (in terms of both human health and revenue) or a semiconductor chip manufacturing machine.
That’s the main reason why field service organizations exist: to reduce equipment downtime. It’s why they invest in parts logistics and inventory solutions, and spend lots of resources trying to get expert technicians to a job site, as quickly as possible. But technicians (and customer support representatives) not only need to respond quickly to service requests, they need to be armed with accurate, complete parts and service information. This is what enables them to efficiently diagnose problems, identify and order the right parts and perform repairs, so they can get equipment up and running again. Accurate, accessible information at the point of need is the key to boosting first-time fix rates (FTFR), improving mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) and increasing mean time between failure (MTBF).
Updating and delivering that critical technical content to service technicians is not easy, because it involves large volumes of data, usually in different formats spread across multiple locations: EAM, ERP and ECM systems. But this is Enigma’s strength; we specialize in helping OEMs and operators publish and distribute technical documentation that is essential for maintaining complex machines. Companies that invest in field service solutions like Enigma InService EPC drastically increase equipment uptime, which means their customers don’t lose revenue while their machines sit idle.
An article by Ben Casselman in the Wall Street Journal (November 26, 2011) describes a recent survey by consulting firm Deloitte that found “83% of manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers to hire.” And that “74% of manufacturers said a shortage of skilled production workers had a ‘significant negative impact’ on either their productivity or expansion plans.”
The article uncovers other evidence of growing demand for skilled jobs as well, “While hourly wages in the broad category of maintenance and repair workers rose 6.4% from 2007 to 2010, increases were 10% in the subcategory of heavy-vehicle mechanics and 15% for specialists in electrical repairs on commercial and industrial equipment. The implication is that employers were competing for a limited pool of qualified workers.”
Clearly the Wall Street Journal is challenging the notion that good jobs are hard to find. There is demand for skilled workers in the manufacturing sector.
For instance, according to the article “AAR Corp., a Chicago-based aviation-parts manufacturer, has 600 job openings, mostly for skilled trade jobs like welders and maintenance mechanics. Chief Executive David Storch said the shortage of workers has forced the company to pass up business and delay some manufacturing work. He said the company would like to start a third shift at its Indianapolis aircraft maintenance facility but has been unable to do so because of worker shortages.”
And while the shortage of skilled workers can be seen across multiple industries, retirement is making matters worse. Casselman’s story indicates that almost 10% of Union Pacific’s employees will retire in 2011 (4,000 out of 45,000).
Finally, in this slow economy it seems that companies are becoming more selective about who they hire. “Jeffrey Joerres, CEO of staffing firm Manpower Inc., said that with demand for their products weak, companies only want candidates who have all of the skills they are looking for, and if the companies can't find someone who fits the bill really well, they'll just leave the job unfilled.”
Think about it; companies are leaving skilled jobs unfilled. That indicates two things about today’s manufacturing sector:
- Quality is more important than quantity (i.e., companies would rather do the job right than do it fast).
- The return on investment (ROI) for training skilled workers is too low (i.e., the cost of training exceeds the revenue generated by an inexperienced worker).
Given that over the past 20 years lean and six-sigma initiatives (LSS) have been implemented at almost every manufacturing company, the focus on quality isn’t surprising. However, the issue of training ROI is surprising. It’s amazing that companies have not yet applied their LSS expertise to address the bottlenecks in training skilled workers.
Skill is developed in two steps: knowledge and experience. For unskilled workers, knowledge is the technical information about how to perform a task; experience, on the other hand, is gained as they perform that task and apply that knowledge. There is no way to develop experience except through…experience. However, there are many ways to share knowledge. The closer you can bring the knowledge to the experience, the faster you develop a skilled workforce. In other words, when you get workers out of the classroom and into the field—and still provide them with the required knowledge—you revolutionize their training. This can simultaneously improve training ROI and work quality.
Enigma provides the technology to deliver knowledge, especially for organizations that maintain and repair complex equipment: planes, trains, trucks, cars, power sports, construction equipment, medical devices, semiconductor equipment, etc. Our solutions provide a one-stop shop of product information wherever it may be needed—consisting of parts and service information, best practices from the field, procurement, sales, remote collaboration, etc.—allowing workers to quickly apply knowledge and gain experience. With Enigma’s technology companies are empowering their service technicians to quickly become experts on the job, which improves equipment uptime, first-time-fix-rates (FTFR) and mean-time-to-repair (MTTR).
According to the Wall Street Journal, companies are looking for skilled workers. Enigma makes it cost-effective and easy for companies to train and develop skilled employees.
Enigma exhibited at the Field Service Interactive conference last week in Dallas, where roughly 100 attendees discussed issues and solutions surrounding field service for a variety of verticals: aerospace, high tech, medical devices, and heavy equipment. Almost all of the vendors were talking about dispatch and getting the right technicians to the service location; no one but Enigma focused on the need for actual service documents and parts data to perform repairs.
What are the ingredients of successful field service? There are several to choose from: parts logistics/optimization, inventory, predictive maintenance, scheduling, remote monitoring, GPS devices, etc. But really, most vendors are like the bread slices of a sandwich; they handle the before and after (or top and bottom) aspects of repair, but they aren’t the meat of the field service sandwich. Enigma technology is the meat that makes the sandwich better. Why? Because service technicians need accurate parts and service information at the point of need, at the repair site.
Sure, it’s important to optimize parts logistics and technician dispatch (often referred to as resource allocation), but what happens even when the “right” technician gets to a site and doesn’t have access to the latest parts catalog from the OEM, or the most updated service bulletins? He or she ends up spending valuable time searching for information through multiple databases or paper catalogs, looking at the wrong diagrams, ordering the wrong parts and calling customer support colleagues to get the right info. That wastes the service tech’s time and the customer support rep’s time (and we all know that time = money).
Enigma solutions address this problem by delivering updated parts and service information to the repair location, via the Web or DVD, online or offline. The technical documentation (part catalogs, parts kits, engineering diagrams, maintenance manuals, service bulletins, troubleshooting, safety notices, technical specifications, etc.), is organized by product division, family and model number, and can be filtered by equipment configuration or serial number. Armed with this information, the field technician can perform maintenance much more quickly and efficiently.
Furthermore, Enigma field service solutions (InService EPC and InService MRO) are built upon Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) so they can be integrated with back-office systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM), diagnostics, order processing, supply chain, warranty and parts inventory systems. This integration capability facilitates easy (and accurate) online parts orders, automated job card generation, and tracking of warranty information.
Most importantly, Enigma technology helps technicians “fix it right the first time, and fix it fast.” The goal is to not only reduce field service operational costs, but to increase equipment uptime for the customers. Increased uptime results in happier customers. The value of customer satisfaction cannot be overrated. The customer’s perception of the OEM matters because customers have choices when it comes to buying or leasing equipment; OEMs have plenty of competition. If you are an OEM, chances are good that you are not just selling a piece of equipment, you are also selling add-ons such as service level agreements (SLAs) and new service offerings such as remote diagnostics or technical telephone support. One way to increase that side of your business is to keep your customers happy by delivering fast, accurate field service. As a bonus this also protects (or perhaps enhances) your brand reputation.
In sum, I leave you with this nugget of advice: feed your field service teams the technical documentation they need, and you will also feed your hungry customer
Equipment breakdowns are inevitable in the transit industry, and there are various causes. It’s challenging to ensure fleets (buses, trains, service vehicles and trolleys) operate safely and on-time, with maximum uptime. It’s tough enough when equipment is out of service for scheduled maintenance; agencies lose revenue, and sometimes can’t support peak demand. But when equipment fails unexpectedly (i.e., while in service), even a short delay can impact dozens or thousands of commuters, depending on the time of day, the route, and the type of transit (bus, train or trolley). Long delays often create angry commuters and politicians, and bad publicity. Last week, for example, was a challenging one for the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR), which had two major mechanical breakdowns that resulted in commuter delays.
Transit agencies around the world face these problems and try to figure out ways to prevent them. Maintenance organizations do their best to keep a fleet up-and-running, but there are common, major obstacles:
- Equipment breakdowns and road service calls because of deferred or missed maintenance
- Delayed maintenance because of incorrect inventory or part shortages
- Slow repairs because of complex troubleshooting and diagnosis (difficult to identify the problem and requisition the correct parts)
- Difficulties finding the right documentation because there are multiple databases filled with obsolete parts and service information
- Different documents and manuals, for multiple fleets, from many different vendors/OEMs
It’s impossible to prevent every maintenance problem, but it is possible to increase equipment uptime by using technology that streamlines access to accurate, updated service and parts information. That's why Dallas Area Rapid Transit is implementing Enigma InService EPC to manage its assets, which include a fleet of 750 buses, light rail, and non-revenue vehicles; 15 transit centers; over 12,000 bus stops; and 48 miles of light rail track and right-of-way.
InService EPC is an off-the-shelf solution that manages and delivers updated parts catalogs and service documentation to the maintenance depot/service bay and the field, so service technicians can make repairs faster and more accurately, wherever the equipment happens to be. The solution integrates with ERP systems so that once mechanics identify the right parts, they can easily requisition them. The solution can also be integrated with diagnostic maintenance systems, to reduce unscheduled breakdowns; i.e., to predict the problem and make a repair before an actual equipment failure. The results are higher first time fix rates (FTFR) and faster turnaround times. Click here to learn more about the benefits of InService EPC for transit maintenance operations.
A recent post on the Association for Maintenance Professionals blog reports that “U.S. oil refiners are ‘compromising the mechanical integrity’ of their equipment by extending maintenance cycles on their plants, the head of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said.”
Though the blog focuses on oil refineries, it references the Deepwater Horizon oil rig catastrophe of April 2010 by noting “During April and May there were 13 fires, 19 deaths and 25 injuries in the oil sector, according to the United Steelworkers. Explosions in April on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico operated by BP Plc and at Tesoro Corp.’s Anacortes, Washington, refinery resulted in 18 deaths.”
The reference to Deepwater might be a somewhat unfair (or at least illogical) correlation, since the rig was not a refinery; the article sort of mixes apples and oranges, so to speak. By referencing the Deepwater spill, it implies that the blowout of the rig might be caused by lack of maintenance. I am no expert on the subject but by most accounts, such as this one in the Washington Post, it remains unclear whether the Deepwater explosion occurred because managers failed to carry out scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. (I wrote previously on the costs of downtime in this blog post on the Deepwater Horizon explosion.)
Nonetheless, the AMP blog does raise a valid issue: the importance of performing routine maintenance. It seems short-sighted to skimp on scheduled maintenance, because the cost of equipment failure is typically far greater than the cost of parts and labor associated with routine maintenance execution. Therefore, the driving economic factor is probably downtime. As oil prices continue to rise, the cost of downtime for a refinery must be so high as to make the risk of equipment failure, due to delayed maintenance, worth taking. However the cost of equipment failure can be measured not only in economic terms (downtime), but also in terms of injury/safety and environmental damage.
When it comes to maintenance standards, many industries are highly regulated. In the United States, for example, the commercial aviation sector is highly regulated by the government (Federal Aviation Administration). Every commercial aircraft has scheduled maintenance checks, and every maintenance procedure that is performed gets recorded. (For more info, see one of our blog posts on aircraft maintenance and compliance.) Other industries, such as oil/gas, rail and chemical, are also asset intensive, with strict safety compliance regulations of their own.
Reducing maintenance costs is important to every industry but so is regulatory compliance. What can be done to encourage compliance, besides trying to instill different priorities (a big challenge in a corporate environment)? They can implement technology solutions that support this goal, such as providing access to relevant maintenance information, wherever and whenever it is needed.
Many companies that operate complex machines and equipment have implemented content management systems and maintenance planning systems, but few have tied these together with systems that deliver relevant, accurate service and parts information on-demand to mechanics and technicians in the field. (For more on this topic, see our white paper on “Deriving Greater Value from Enterprise Asset Management Investments.” )
Yet there is a great need; maintenance planners and service technicians grapple with the daunting complexity and diverse configurations of multiple pieces of equipment. Keeping assets operational involves enormous amounts of documentation, often in different formats spread across multiple locations: EAM, ERP and ECM systems. Automating the delivery of that critical content to the mechanic increases the efficiency and consistency of maintenance by streamlining fault isolation, part identification and selection of repair procedures. This boosts first-time fix rates (FTFR), improves mean-time-to-repair (MTTR), reduces manpower requirements and downtime costs and improves safety and compliance.
With this type of asset maintenance technology at their fingertips, more companies could reduce downtime and costs, while adhering to maintenance schedules.
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