The Uptime Blog
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.
If rail transit is recovering from the recession, as claimed in a recent InfoSys blog, then all those locomotives and rail cars that sat idle for the past two or three years will need inspections and maintenance before going back in service. The InfoSys blog suggest that an enterprise asset management (EAM) system is the key to getting those assets back on track (pun intended).
In conversations with transit agencies around North America, Enigma finds that most agencies have some type of EAM system (or something similar). However, even with the most modern EAM, there is room for improvement in terms of ensuring on-time performance and uptime. EAM systems are critical for managing and scheduling maintenance campaigns, tracking warranty claims, managing fleet configurations, etc. but they are not designed to extract, process and deliver key service and parts information from maintenance documentation. Without this capability, maintainers won’t have accurate parts and service information, which impacts productivity and asset availability.
Here’s a primer on the challenges of managing parts and service information, and why it’s so critical to integrate parts and service information with an EAM system:
- Equipment downtime increases when technicians can’t find accurate service and parts information to perform the right repairs and order the correct part(s). They must either search out the right information, through phone calls and flipping through the manual, or they must proceed using a "best-guess" approach.
- OEMs send service and parts updates to their customers—sometimes annually, sometimes quarterly or sometimes on an urgent/as-needed basis—as service bulletins, catalogs and maintenance manuals. In such cases, the transit agency may spend significant time to update all the new information from all of the vendors into the current configuration of its assets.
- One of the challenges of asset maintenance is that the bill of materials (BOM) for each asset evolves; it doesn’t match the original factory-built BOM. As soon as equipment comes in for service, and parts are replaced, the asset no longer reflects the as-built configuration, and its BOM continues to change, as additional repairs and modifications are performed. Unless updated parts and service information is integrated with the EAM system, the maintenance plan for each piece of equipment quickly becomes unreliable. The result is reduced maintenance productivity because, before a repair can begin, technicians must figure out the "true" required parts list and maintenance procedures.
These three problems can be eliminated by using an electronic parts catalog to incrementally, and automatically, update the EAM system with current parts and service information that is filtered according to the unique configuration of each asset. By integrating technical content with the EAM, service technicians have immediate access to the latest parts and procedures needed to fix equipment.
EAM systems serve a purpose in ensuring uptime, but they don’t solve the problem completely. For more details, read one of our earlier blog posts about the importance of synchronizing parts and service information with an EAM system.
l-r: FedEx VP of Engineering Mark Yerger and Enigma CEO Jonathan Yaron presenting at the Airlines And Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference, March 2, 2011
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Aircraft Commerce Airline and Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference in Miami. There was an impressive array of delegates, not only from North America but from Europe and Asia as well.
I also had the honor of delivering a presentation at the conference, on “Repurposing Technical Data to Reduce Inventory, Improve Asset Utilization, and Increase Compliance,” which followed a related presentation by Mark Yerger, Vice President of Engineering at FedEx. The topic was well-received because so many airlines and MRO shops face the challenge of ensuring inventory and maintenance plans remain accurate and compliant. Many airlines have found that the key is to synchronize the latest technical content with IT systems because while technical content is revised frequently (by both OEMs and airlines/MRO shops) those changes take longer to be pushed into ERP. This is a major problem, because technical documentation is the primary method of communicating important changes throughout an MRO ecosystem, and it is the foundation for compliance. Outdated ERP information creates a ripple effect that drives up costs, increases downtime and causes fines.
Technical content drives every decision around maintenance and inventory planning, and impacts the technicians’ ability to do their job quickly and remain compliant. Yet many airlines and MRO shops still use manual processes to 1) incorporate OEM revisions into current maintenance practices and 2) update service parts and procedures in the ERP, MRO, PLM and SCM systems. Doing this work manually is labor-intensive and prone to human error; as a result it is not cost-effective.
Integrating IT systems drastically reduces manual intervention for processing technical documentation and revisions. Automating those manual processes saves significant time; by using Enigma InService Revision Manager, airlines have reconciled new OEM revisions 80% faster (in days rather than weeks). For example, processing one aircraft maintenance manual (AMM) requires the tech pubs department to review all 15,000 tasks in the document looking for changes, or at least the 3,200 tasks that have been marked as changed. However, because of InService Revision Manager’s ability to isolate just those changes that require human intervention, manual review and approval is needed for only 457 changes. Similar results are seen on other forms of technical documentation as well. This accelerates the implementation of new service and parts revisions from 3-6 months to less than a week.
Nonetheless, automating revision management is only one part of the solution. Synchronizing technical documentation across Engineering, Maintenance and Inventory systems is another key element. Bridging these environments is possible, by integrating technical documentation with the ERP system. This ensures that the latest service and parts information is available across all maintenance and support departments.
Considering that each fleet has millions of pages of content (maintenance manuals and planning documents, parts catalogs and service bulletins), as well as multiple data formats, data viewers and IT systems operating in parallel, it is absolutely essential for airlines and MRO shops to have an integrated environment that synchronizes all service and parts information. The benefits are increased aircraft uptime, decreased operating costs and greater compliance.
For details, click here to download my slide presentation from the conference.
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.