The Uptime Blog
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.
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.
Service of complex equipment is a complicated matter. And making improvements to a system that deals with high degrees of detail can also be a challenge.
But what if you had a tool that could easily help you estimate how much you’d save in dollars and wrench-time by improving productivity? Interesting, right? Well, Enigma has come up with a handy ROI-like calculator that does just that. We call it our Service Savings Calculator, and it’s available as a free download from the resource center on our website.
Service technician time is expensive and wasted service time is a revenue buster for service organizations. That seemed to be the collective opinion when we talked to a number of our customers responsible for the profitability of their service operations. One common frustration was the amount of time that was wasted looking up information instead of fixing equipment and machines. It turns out, service technicians look up a lot of things on a regular basis – parts, part assemblies, service maintenance instructions, service bulletin updates and warranty details to mention a few. It’s a necessary activity given the intricacy of the machines and equipment they work on. That means that how and where information is stored and the ease of access to it can have a big impact on the bottom line of a service operation.
That’s where Enigma and our Service Savings Calculator come into the picture. We’ve researched the top factors to consider when calculating the value of the time spent on information retrieval in the service environment. We narrowed it down to eight essential bits of information. You probably already know the first seven of them off-the-top of your head and if you don’t, they’re pretty easy to find or estimate. The eighth factor estimates how much time it would take using the Enigma InService EPC system. InService EPC is an electronic parts catalog that acts as a knowledge library, making parts and service information easy to manage, update, distribute and access. It streamlines the information retrieval process, while ensuring accurate and current data for users.
Using your own data, the Service Savings Calculator computes the average cost of your existing service information retrieval system and compares it to Enigma’s InService EPC. And that is where we see some serious savings.
Here’s how it works in three steps.
1. First, figure out the answer to the following bits of information. It’s easier than you think.
Average technician work shift – We’re guessing that most folks have an 8 hour work day, but some companies work longer and harder when needed. However long your technicians work on average per shift, that’s the number you want to use.
Number of work shifts per week – Although the average is probably 5 shifts per week, we know plenty of service organizations that regularly work 6 days. Again, estimate the average number of shifts your team puts in each week.
Weeks in the year – We all know there are 52 weeks in the year, but you may want to account for vacation time, seasonal closings, or other factors to make this number more accurate.
Total number of service technicians – This includes all the service technicians company wide. Of course you could also save different versions of the calculator and compare regions, departments or divisions too.
Average hourly technician pay rate – Even though some technicians earn more or less based on experience and skill, we use an average hourly rate to get the best average.
Average minutes spent on EACH search – Here’s where it gets tricky. As we said earlier, service technicians retrieve a lot of information on parts, service info, warranty etc. The number we’re looking for here is the average number of minutes that EACH technician spends on EACH search. So let’s say (s)he looks up a part, which typically takes 7 minutes, a service maintenance issue that takes on average 13 minutes and a warranty issue averaging 25 minutes. The average number of minutes would be 15 or 7+13+25/3.
Number of searches per shift – How many times does EACH technician perform an information search (on average) per shift?
2. Second, download the Service Savings Calculator if you haven’t already and enter the seven numbers you estimated into the white boxes provided.
3. Third, estimate the average amount of time (in minutes) spent on EACH search using Enigma’s InService EPC software (similar to the average minutes spent on EACH search mentioned above). One of our sales consultants can best help you estimate that number based on your existing information system and work flow. Enter this number in the last, dark blue box and immediately see the savings.
The Result: See what you could be saving.
We’ve represented the results in two very measurable ways – first, the estimated dollar amount that is saved by reducing the search time for service-related information and second, what that equates to in terms of technician equivalents. In other words, you could be saving thousands of dollars and an equivalent of five, six or even tens or hundreds of full-time service technicians depending on the size of your service team. Reducing the amount of search time with InService EPC, a tool that is accurate, current, and easy to use, simplifies the complicated nature of complex equipment service by providing and allowing easy access to service information.
We encourage you to download the calculator, share it with others in your organization and contact us to see how InService EPC can benefit your service organization.
Tags: Maintenance, Electronic parts catalogs, parts and service, service technicians, turnaround times, parts catalog, technical documentation, alternative parts, service information, asset maintenance, field service, customer support, dealer support, appliance repair, mobile
Natural selection is the process of one thing being replaced by something else that is better, stronger or faster. It happens everywhere, nature, people, and business. Something in the “natural order” changes and you either adapt or get left behind, permanently. Natural selection is underway right now around the process of servicing and supporting complex equipment—and only the “fittest” will survive.
The Service Council conducted a remote services benchmark survey regarding the future of the services industry, which identified three factors that drive the services market today:
- The service organization’s demand for more productivity
- The customer’s demand for higher quality/uptime
- The customer’s demand for faster repairs
In a perfect world, new products would require less service and have fewer failures, thus reducing the need for better field service. In the real world, where complex products often need more service, the factors listed above will define success or failure for products, brands and even companies.
The Service Council benchmark suggests that implementing so-called “smarter services” is better than simply waiting for products to reach perfection. It seems that as long as products are manufactured, sold, distributed and installed in a less than perfect state, service will continue to be the key to customer satisfaction.
In the same survey, services executives claim their industry is vibrant and responsive—fully able to meet customer demand for performance and uptime. They say this even as they are trying to implement new technology that helps field technicians complete tasks quickly. The most successful service executives have already implemented a strategy to automate business processes and increase customer satisfaction. Some of their tactics include:
- Focus on those metrics that have a high correlation to service performance (and ignore the others)
- Automate field service processes to reduce “look-up” delays and eliminate clerical tasks and errors
- Provide customers with insight to equipment performance and required maintenance
However, maintenance and repair is more than a service contract between vendors and their customers. It is a way to ensure customers maximize the value of equipment. While customers often consider service to be a cost-center—an unavoidable cost of doing business—without proper maintenance, complex equipment can never meet expectations. Companies that meet customer expectations achieve long-term stability within their installed base, along with profitable parts sales and service contracts. Missing customer expectations risks lost revenue and bad PR, often in the form of negative stories that “go viral” on social media. The problem is that field technicians often need sophisticated technical support when performing repairs at the customer site. (It’s more difficult to get guidance when working remotely.)
There is now a change occurring within the service industry. Customer expectations for complex equipment haven’t significantly changed—faster production, more uptime, higher quality and lower cost. What has changed is the time allowed to meet those expectations. Companies are demanding their equipment be repaired better and faster than ever, which is why many service organizations now track productivity and fix-first-time rates for each technician. The compression of response times and the demand for higher quality is driving natural selection in the service industry.
Service organizations that achieve equipment performance and customer satisfaction goals are financially rewarded. Those that don’t, cease to be a player in the industry.
For those companies that fear they may be on the wrong side of the natural selection process, facing increased customer expectations and lacking an effective response, it’s not too late to adapt. Enigma has the talent and technology to turn your service organization into a competitive advantage, enabling all your technicians to perform with excellence—even with the most demanding customers.
Tags: Maintenance, electronic parts catalogue, Electronic parts catalogs, service technicians, parts catalog, alternative parts, parts kitting, parts catalogues, service information, asset maintenance, field service, customer support, parts logistics, parts ordering, Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD), appliance repair
We’ve all been there. Your oven breaks, usually before a major holiday, or your hot water heater finally quits, or something goes haywire that you can’t easily replace or put in your car to get repaired. What do you do? Usually you contact the place where you bought it and they schedule a service appointment. One of two things will now happen: 1. You have a positive experience. 2. You have a negative experience. Each one has implications for how you perceive a brand or product, and each one will influence whether or not you purchase from the brand or vendor again. While these are consumer-based examples, taken from home life, similar situations occur every day in complex business operations—with similar outcomes.
Aberdeen Group recently reported that organizations that satisfy more than 90% of their customers see significant loyalty retention and profitability advantages over those that satisfy less than 50% of their customers. (These results seems obvious but it’s nice to have it validated as fact.) Sumair Dutta, Research Director for Service Management at Aberdeen wrote “While those bounds may seem extreme, it shows that there is a real monetary impact to improving customer satisfaction and organizations are getting savvier around quantifying this impact.”
A positive customer experience is influenced by several factors: timely arrivals, fast service, quality repair, reasonable cost. The technician’s ability to provide that experience is influenced by: streamlined fault isolation, accurate and complete service information, reduced paperwork and automated data routing. For many of those steps success is determined before the technician is ever dispatched on a service call, and is tied to the sophistication and integration of IT and business systems. Once on-site however, the key to ensuring customer satisfaction is the technician’s ability to address unforeseen problems: incorrect diagnosis, additional failures/damage, neglected maintenance, undocumented (previous) repairs, etc. Having the ability to handle the unexpected can make all the difference for impressing the customer and resolving their issues in a timely matter. Products that can improve a technician’s ability to understand and resolve
complex problems, whether those problems are related to identifying proper parts or procedures, help service engineers become more efficient and consistent.
With the right software application in place, companies can easily publish and distribute accurate, updated parts and service information that enables technicians to resolve customer issues quickly, the first time, leaving behind happy customers, ready to do repeat business.
Tags: Maintenance, Electronic parts catalogs, parts and service, parts catalog, technical documentation, MTTR, field service, PDF, medical equipment, Enigma, John Snow
Field Service 2012 has come and gone in Las Vegas, but there is much to report from the event. Not counting the hardware and software vendors, FS 2012 hosted over 200 attendees from over 100 companies. General manufacturing and high tech companies were the biggest industries represented, followed by A&D, medical equipment and semiconductor tool manufacturers.
The Enigma booth was incredibly busy, answering questions from attendees and demonstrating the advanced capabilities of InService® EPC. Based on these conversations it’s apparent that more and more companies are looking for knowledge management solutions, and Enigma has the technology and expertise to turn their piles of documentation, parts catalogs and service bulletins into an interactive, integrated field service solution.
Some of the comments from attendees reminded us of how much work is still to be done to improve aftermarket service and support. One VP of Services said, “All of my support content is in paper format. I have 1500 field technicians and the only electronic device they have is a cell phone. Now what?” Now what, indeed. After a fairly comprehensive demo, this VP realized Enigma has solutions that can improve any field service environment, whether it’s based on paper, smart phones, tablets or laptops.
Another VP of Field Service told Enigma, “We spend far too much of our budget on printing costs. I’m thinking of buying tablets or laptops for the field but I don’t know how to get all the necessary data into the right format and onto these devices." They went on to say that maintaining the accuracy of technical data and making sure it was safe from prying eyes was a significant worry. Again, a demonstration was all that was necessary to relieve this executive’s concerns and help them grasp the reality of Enigma’s technology as a profit driver.
Jonathan Yaron, Enigma’s CEO, was part of a panel titled, “Delivering Faster Service With Higher Quality And Fewer Support Calls: Integrating Knowledge Tools And Technical Libraries.” One of the concerns raised during this session was the use of social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Chatter, etc. The panelists almost universally felt that sharing maintenance advice and best practices on such an open, unregulated environment carried very high risks to the service organization. In fact, one of the speakers said, “Using social media for sharing best practices carries significant risk because such content would be part of any future legal investigation. If a technician makes a repair based on a Twitter or Facebook post, and there’s a problem down the road, then there will probably be a liability claim and any unsanctioned maintenance instructions will be brought into the discussion. What’s needed is a secure way to collect, evaluate, enhance, approve and distribute service and parts information and best practices quickly and safely.” That’s exactly what’s needed. Enigma couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
These issues, and more, were addressed at FS 2012 in Las Vegas. For those who attended, we’d love to hear your feedback on what you learned and what you plan to do with what you learned. For those who didn’t get a chance to see Enigma’s product in action, visit our home page to request a personalized demo
. You might find what so many at FS2012 found; Enigma’s software improves service execution
and increases profits
According to a recent Aviation Week article, “U.S. Navy Manual Details New Focus,” the Navy’s Surface Force Readiness Manual (SFRM) is calling for improvements to fleet maintenance. According to the article, “The manual boasts that it ‘provides the overarching strategy and policy required to generate and sustain surface ship material and operational readiness to perform operational tasking and reach expected service life.’” Put another way, the new manual explains how to maximize uptime of a Navy ship, so it can perform as expected throughout its lifecycle. Interestingly enough, the needs of the Navy aren’t that different from the needs of other industries like energy exploration, refining, utilities, transit, process plant, high-tech, medical equipment, etc.
Admiral J.C. Harvey, Jr., commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, described the manual as “a robust and highly scrutinized readiness policy that I believe will better prepare our ships and crews for the many significant demands we face today.” The author makes it clear that the goal is for Navy maintenance to become more efficient and consistent, both in port and out on the ocean. It's all about making sure that a very complex ship is prepared to meet the mission that’s required. That means creating a self-sufficient ship and crew.
“Training a ship’s crew to execute maintenance availability, perform routine operations in and around homeports, and conduct sustained combat operations requires a sequenced and coordinated maintenance and training effort,” the manual continues. “This strategy is ship-focused and synchronizes training among multiple readiness stakeholders.”
The Navy’s strategy is ship-focused—each ship is treated as a unique asset. That means when a mechanic or technician is looking for parts and procedures, the only information they should find is data that relates to the specific equipment on that particular ship. (i.e. Information must be filtered according to hull number effectivity.) More than that, this information must be readily available regardless of network connection, which can be limited by weather conditions, location/deployment or combat environment.
The Navy’s strategy synchronizes across multiple stakeholders—effectively combining elements of planning, inventory, training and execution. That means when a mechanic or technician is selecting parts and procedures, they should also see other relevant information such as part availability, alternate parts, service bulletins, best practices and previous maintenance reports. Not only does such an approach augment previous training, because it provides complete technical information in real-time service is both accurate and effective.
What does this mean for other industries? The Aviation Week article indicates that the Navy looked at how it maintains its ships and decided it was time for a change. They realized that the quality and quantity of maintenance was deteriorating, which was adversely affecting readiness. A ship that can’t be deployed is not an asset, it’s a liability. For industries that rely on capital equipment, a similar investigation may turn up similar results. The question is, “What can these companies do to improve the situation?”
Enigma’s customers consistently say they deliver faster, more accurate service and support for their own customers, dealers and any equipment under service contract. The Enigma InService® EPC product ensures that mechanics, technicians and field engineers always have the right information at-hand, whether they are online, offline or mobile. With the ability to integrate to back-office systems, Enigma customers have a complete technical library that provides all necessary information for a particular machine or situation. Click here to see why more and more companies are turning to Enigma to improve their aftermarket service and support.
I’ve just returned from Oracle’s annual Customer Showcase and Maintenance Summit, which offered a laser-like focus on equipment reliability. The Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) —“The Reliable One” — was a phenomenal joint host, bringing summit participants on tours through a power plant, a fleet operations center and a new “green” building in downtown Orlando.
Besides OUC there were many valuable presentations by Oracle customers that addressed a number of issues: increasing operational performance, margin growth, continuous improvement, choosing and using key performance indicators (KPIs), integrating maintenance into enterprise IT, and the importance of keeping data clean. Also presenting was Sean D. Tucker, the world’s leading civilian air show pilot. Sean’s message focused on three things: 1) the importance of reliable equipment; 2) how reliability starts with the individual; 3) how individual reliability is at the heart of team success. As if to highlight this last point, Oracle announced that in 2010 the EAM suite of products had successfully increased the customer base to 4,500, closing the gap with many of their competitors.
The candor of each of Oracle’s customers, as they spoke about their successes and challenges, was refreshing. Last year presentations addressed things like: aging workforces, knowledge transfer and how to improve quality and consistency of maintenance. Although those topics came up again, this year’s focus on reliability raised a different set of issues, with almost every speaker mentioning the importance of having accurate (reliable) data within the EAM system, both in terms of parts inventory and maintenance plans. One company told me they manage over 100,000 assets in EAM but that the parts lists/bill-of-materials (BOM) is only 50% accurate. It’s hard to plan and deliver fast, reliable maintenance when 50% of your data is wrong.
I pursued the issue of poor data quality with several attendees and they all said that it was a major source of frustration. Several noted that they couldn’t start any type of service—preventive maintenance (PM) or reactive/break-fix maintenance—without first calling the manufacturer of the equipment to ask about latest service bulletins, updated parts and revised PM procedures. Yet virtually all of the customers I talked to viewed this data problem as business-as-usual. One customer estimated that for each part or service change, there were 20 man-hours of work (spread across 5-6 people) required to update and synchronize all of the impacted IT systems. Therefore, they typically waited until just before each PM to collect all the latest data from each vendor before starting maintenance, and for unscheduled repairs they either delayed the work or tried to use whatever parts and procedures they had on-hand. The fact that Enigma has a way to continuously update and synchronize all the relevant databases really got people’s attention, however it seemed a little too promising for some to accept. (We’ll be explaining why it’s real in future blogs. In the meantime, give us a call; we’d love to show you how it works.)
As 2011 continues to unfold, we look forward to meeting with the customers and attendees of Oracle’s Maintenance Summit to discuss innovative solutions to the challenge of providing reliable parts and service information. With a rich set of Oracle integrations already in place, Enigma is perfectly positioned to help EAM users significantly improve the reliability, efficiency and consistency of their aftermarket business and maintenance processes.
Service Transformation: that’s what Oracle calls its initiative to help manufacturing companies and maintenance providers improve their aftermarket sales and service business. There were more than 20 different sessions at OpenWorld 2009 that focused on the needs of, and opportunities for, manufacturers and service providers. Topics included: maintenance planning, maintenance execution, asset management, configuration control, knowledge management & retention, customer support, field service, advanced visualization, diagnostics & troubleshooting, spare parts planning, logistics, warranty, service contracts, demand planning, compliance and collaboration.
Clearly, Oracle recognizes the huge opportunity that exists for improving aftermarket processes. In every industry, companies are coming to the realization that they have been taking their aftermarket business for granted, allowing 3rd parties to thrive in this lucrative space. These companies recognize that aftermarket growth, and the high-margins that go with it are critical to restoring profits. More than a short-term fix, a rejuvenated aftermarket will sustain these companies far into the future.
Oracle has articulated a strategy that is designed to capitalize on the unmet needs of the aftermarket, providing solutions that streamline business processes, accelerate parts and service decisions, and maximize equipment uptime and productivity.
For instance, Oracle presented an entire session on the topic of Service Transformation for Manufacturers. Within that session, numerous examples were cited of achieving increased part sales, decreased repair times, lower inventory requirements, and higher customer satisfaction. Even companies that implement only a portion of the Service Transformation footprint, which includes partner solutions like Enigma and Axeda, have realized significant gains.
Why is this relevant? Because so many companies already use Oracle products, it’s not very complicated for them to take the next steps to automate and improve their aftermarket business. The beauty of Oracle’s Service Transformation strategy is that it is flexible enough to be implemented all at once, or in pieces. Enigma is proud to be an Oracle Partner and pleased to be associated with the Service Transformation initiative. Clearly we are no longer the only vendor advocating for aftermarket excellence.
There’s an elephant hiding in the corner of every airline hangar that performs maintenance (or that manages a 3rd party MRO). That elephant is the technical information from Boeing and Airbus—maintenance manuals, parts catalogs, service bulletins, etc. In the September 28 issue of AviationWeek, Robert Wall decided to shine a light on that elephant and what he said should interest everyone in the aviation community. According to Wall, “Industry officials fear manufacturers are looking to recapture more revenue through dubious practices. Already, there is concern about intellectual property for technical data on aircraft such as the Boeing 777, 747-8, and Airbus A350, says Lufthansa Technik CEO August Wilhelm Henningsen.” If OEMs make it difficult to use their technical information, through litigation, contractual limitations or expensive licensing then airline costs will rise—and so will passenger costs.
Is it ethical for an OEM to sell a product, and then require you to pay for the manuals that go with it? Last year we highlighted this topic twice: The Future of Airline MRO Technology and The Future of Airline MRO Technology – Part 2. The issue boils down to this; should OEMs be allowed to limit access—or charge outrageous fees—for maintenance information and recommendations? (We’re not talking about secret design data, just maintenance and safety info.) If this practice is allowed, then airlines that want to maintain their own airplanes will find it difficult to do so. (The reason airlines perform their own maintenance is because, after a few years of service, they know each airplane better than Boeing and Airbus.) In addition, if an airline wants to use a properly licensed 3rd party MRO, that MRO will have more difficulty getting the proper maintenance information than the airline. An industry official quoted by Wall says, “…MRO businesses with a link to an airline can ensure that access to intellectual property is part of any aircraft purchase decision. However, he adds, independent MRO companies would not have that leverage.” This is true to a point; it may turn out that small airlines are a lot like MROs in that they don’t have the necessary pricing power to guarantee access to maintenance info.
Now that we can all see the elephant in the hangar—OEM data—it’s time to admit that Enigma can’t fix this problem; we can only offer a workaround. As aircraft owners, the OEMs must give airlines certain technical information. Even if they only give you PDF data, rather than the richer SGML/XML data they use for authoring documents, you should receive basic maintenance info. With that, regardless of the data format, Enigma InService Job Card Generator can help you automatically generate customized, step-by-step job cards that tell mechanics exactly what they need to do to fix the airplane. These job cards can be generated in minutes rather than months and can be immediately used in your own hangar—or to provide detailed instructions for a 3rd party MRO.
It’s unfortunate that airlines are now in a situation where they must question whether OEM suppliers are truly their business partners. Long-held relationships come under tremendous strain when one partner starts to question the motives of the other. Suddenly business practices that had been accepted for years get re-interpreted through a strict legal lens and everyone starts to cover their own derriere. In times like this, it’s important for airlines to know that Enigma remains true, and is committed to your success in spite of questionable OEM tactics.
All Posts | Next Page