When evaluating the benefits of different maintenance information systems, features are often measured against increased efficiency. And of course, this is an important goal: Allowing engineers and technicians to work faster translates immediately into higher uptime and lower costs. But sometimes, features go beyond the tactical benefit of worker efficiency, by adding strategic operational savings to the picture. Effectivity is one of those features that provides both tactical and strategic benefits.
One reason for Enigma’s leadership in the aerospace and manufacturing aftermarket is that all of the products include effectivity filtering. I had always seen this as a tactical feature that helps workers consistently perform more efficiently. But I’ve now discovered that effectivity also provides a strategic advantage, by improving and automating key aspects of maintenance planning, parts purchasing and inventory management.
Before describing these benefits, let me give a brief overview of effectivity…
Complex equipment—like planes, trains and automobiles—is typically designed as a single model and then adapted to meet various customer requirements. Each customization, or option package, does not usually warrant a completely new set of manuals—most of the content remains the same, with just a few special instructions and optional parts. For the sake of efficiency, the OEM’s tech pubs department will often maintain a single source document and simply mark the content that changes, according to the specific equipment model or serial number. For example (using an imaginary data schema):
<step effect=’ALL’>Remove the locking bolt.</step>
<step effect=’ALL’>Insert the protective gasket, part #
<part effect=’V18,V22’ >A44-4481</part>
This is a very simple example that describes the concept of effectivity. With really complex equipment, effectivity often applies to large portions of text, and in some cases can even be nested, with subtasks split according to the equipment model, and then specific part data within that subtask split further according to each serial number.
When publishing to paper, effectivity requirements are typically listed in the footer of each page, and are also listed as a lead-in to specific paragraphs or parts list items that are effectivity-specific. Although sometimes confusing, this format may be sufficient for mechanics with the proper training. However, electronic delivery can eliminate this confusion by filtering out any content that is not relevant to the specific machine being serviced, allowing technicians to focus only on the content that matters.
I’ve had the chance to see a few electronic systems that did not filter according to effectivity, rather they simply mimicked the paper-publishing model of headers and lead-ins. Unfortunately, treating electronic delivery like paper does not always work, and the customer results were less than stellar.
I was astounded to discover that because mechanics could not be sure of the specific part that was needed (for the serial number being serviced) they would often order every possible part! They might take three or more parts to service one piece of equipment and figure out which one was correct out in the field. The other parts would then, hopefully, be returned.
It’s hard to even measure the additional costs incurred by this process:
- ‘Lost’ parts, that are not properly returned
- Cash-flow that is tied up in lengthy return material procedures (RMA)
- Inventory purchases made to replace parts that weren’t needed in the first place
- Wasted shipping, stocking and logistics costs
Maintenance information systems that use effectivity filtering eliminate this problem. Not only does effectivity provide strategic benefits—operational savings across multiple departments—but also tactical benefits—faster, more accurate maintenance.
Effectivity filtering increases manitenance productivity and reduces parts and inventory costs. Now, that’s what I call effective.