The Uptime Blog
On December 9, 2007 the Uptime blog went live. Since then we have been posting stories almost weekly (this is the 50th post) about the state of affairs in aftermarket service and support. You, our readership, has grown significantly in the first 12 months and what started as an experiment in Social Media has now become an important channel of communication for Enigma. Our intent has been to reveal the often overlooked business opportunities hiding within the aftermarket. Hopefully we’ve succeeded.
If you read the blog to get a better understanding of current aftermarket business issues, that’s fantastic, and I encourage you to share your thoughts by posting an occasional comment. If you’re a software developer trying to get a competitive edge on Enigma, that’s OK too I guess. You can chime in with your thoughts and maybe we’ll post it (LOL).
Overall, I’m very pleased with how the blog has developed throughout the year and I would like to say several “thank yous.”
- To you, the readers, for your patience and understanding as this blog has ramped up. If you like the blog I encourage you to share it with a friend.
- To all of the contributors for your thoughtful ideas, material and complete posts. Please keep them coming because without you, this blog would be very bland indeed.
- To Joy Reo for hounding me, gathering the text and graphics, and managing all the other details of writing, editing, publishing, and monitoring the blog and blog traffic. Without you, the Uptime blog wouldn’t exist.
Thank you all.
Moving into 2009 we plan to go even deeper into parts and service issues surrounding automotive, heavy equipment, aviation, rail, energy and any other industry that relies on complex equipment with challenging service requirements. I hope we can share this information in a way that makes it easy to understand and meaningful to every industry we serve. We also plan to spend more time discussing the role of information delivery within the aftermarket ecosystem of telematics/ autonomics, diagnostics, fault isolation/troubleshooting, scheduling, inventory/ logistics, ERP, and content authoring/management.
As always, we ask for your input. Please tell us how the Uptime blog can be improved and become more meaningful to your business. Thanks again for a great 2008! See you in 2009!
An article in the November 2008 issue of Managing Automation focuses on the recent progress and future plans of Wonderware—a maker of operations management software and a division of Invensys. It was not the type of article I would normally read, after all it was focused on manufacturing execution and I gravitate more toward aftermarket maintenance. However, one phrase in the title of the article caught my eye—”Empowering Plant Operators.”
The idea of empowering workers is at the heart of Enigma’s solutions and so I thought maybe this would be an interesting read. What I learned was that Sudipta Bhattacharya, President of Wonderware, is a man after my own heart. Here’s what he said, “The gap today in industry is that we don’t empower the production worker…We need to enable the first-line operator to take action. Give a person the tools to make the right decision and you can drive the next step-change in efficiency.”
Here’s a guy that “gets it.” Most workers, whether line operators or service technicians, want to do their jobs right but they often lack the necessary information. While Wonderware is primarily concerned with improving manufacturing operations, Battacharya’s comment applies to aftermarket maintenance as well. Which leads me to the point of this post; as we enter 2009 if your company is not pursuing aftermarket parts and service improvements, why not? Chances are your manufacturing floor and supply chain is already well down the road to improving efficiency and decreasing costs. Why not tech pubs, customer support, parts and service? Bhattacharya is absolutely right, “We need to enable the first-line operator to take action.”
I once saw one of our customers write the following note on the back of a PowerPoint slide, “Enigma = Aftermarket Experts.” What are you doing to improve your service and support? If you would like to talk about how to unlock your aftermarket, reducing costs and generating revenue, give me a call. I’d be happy to show you ways to do both.
During this week’s Air Transport World webinar on Strategies for Unscheduled Aircraft Maintenance, a good question came in from an audience member, and I feel it deserves your attention. The questioner was asking about where to focus the time and energy of the maintenance department and his question highlights a common oversight in maintenance strategy.
First, let me explain the situation (based on the pie-chart above). Over a two-year period, a fleet of long-haul aircraft experienced over 3,000 unscheduled maintenance events that were caused by almost 300 different systems. Ten systems caused a bit less than half of the unexpected maintenance events. The rest of the unscheduled maintenance (more than half) was the result of a failure in one of 270+ different aircraft systems. My premise is that airlines are already addressing the right-side of the pie chart but can do more to improve the left-side—responding to all those systems that fail rarely but, when taken together, account for the majority of unscheduled maintenance. (I discussed this topic a few weeks ago in my blog post titled: The Long Tail of Aircraft Maintenance.) Here is the (edited) question that was asked:
Focusing maintenance attention on 270+ systems will drive high volumes of action items within the organization, creating a great deal of confusion. Most process improvement techniques tell you to focus and fix the top 20% of your problems to drive performance. How can your approach work in a multi-department company?
The questioner is right to say that it is impractical to focus attention on 270+ different aircraft systems. There’s no way the mechanics on the flight line can master so much information (100K’s of pages). However, I would like to make two points:
- The data highlights a problem with “conventional wisdom.” If maintenance focuses on the top 20% of problems then they will be focusing on just one aircraft system (700 failures) and there are many more systems that cause problems. Furthermore, if maintenance believes the 20/80 rule applies—claiming 20% of the systems cause 80% of the problems—then this isn’t supported by the data either.
- My recommendation has never been that maintenance should focus on 270+ problems. Rather, I believe that information systems should be implemented that help mechanics respond to all maintenance requirements, regardless of whether it is a Top 10 problem or a Long Tail problem.
Maintenance personnel are busy, so they have limited bandwidth. It is inevitable that they will focus on frequent problems—the trees not the forest. The point I am making is that the unscheduled maintenance problem is bigger than the Top 10 issues. Information technology now allows the flight line to become an extension of the enterprise, improving the efficiency and consistency with which mechanics respond to unscheduled maintenance. The key is to bring information to the mechanic, rather than making the mechanic chase down the information.
Download the 15-minute video below to see a brief explanation and demonstration of the Enigma InService Job Card Generator (JCG), presented by Susan Glass, Director of European Professional Services and Solutions at Enigma.
InService Job Card Generator (JCG) automates the production of job cards (task cards) containing all the technical information required for maintaining aircraft, engines and other complex equipment.
This product uses planning information from an M&E system (i.e. tail number/serial number, fleet, skill, zone, hours, material) with the relevant technical content (i.e. AMM tasks/sub-tasks, service bulletins, diagrams and schematics) resulting in a complete work package consisting of one or more job cards. This provides up-to-date information to the mechanic, filtered according to effectivity within the context of the job card, and formatted to the maintenance organization standard.
Key features include:
- Dynamic rendition of a work package (consisting of a set of job cards)
- Effectivity filtering of the most up-to-date technical content based on tail number/serial number
- Manual or automatic job card production (directly from M&E system)
- Rendering of job cards/work packages according to different rules/layouts
- Ability to produce job cards centrally and distribute to remote users (electronic and/or printed job cards)
- Merging of multiple datasets – planning information from the M&E system, technical information from the content management and product management systems
- Extraction of job card information (number of pages in the job card/work package, job card filenames, location) which can be sent to the M&E system if required
- Digital signature option.
Download the free InService JCG data sheet.