The Uptime Blog
Tags: MRO, aviation, aircraft maintenance, Job Cards, parts logistics, Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM), Korean Air, Oracle cMRO, ERP, Enigma, John Snow
An article by David Baum in Oracle’s PROFIT magazine says, “Korean Air’s new aircraft and engine maintenance system allows production personnel to instantly create engine maintenance plans against flight schedules and to analyze maintenance costs within three hours.” That’s an impressive statistic and Enigma is proud to have played a significant role, as a partner to Oracle, in helping KAL to achieve it.
KAL’s new maintenance system went live in 2011, as reported by Gartner, and is a combination of Oracle cMRO and Enigma InService® MRO. Prior to this, KAL realized that their legacy maintenance system could not keep up with the demand for faster service, more scheduling flexibility and increasingly complex troubleshooting and repair procedures. KAL described the role Enigma played in helping them optimize maintenance execution, at the Aircraft Commerce show in APAC last year. However, the inventory part of the KAL story has not yet been told.
According to the PROFIT article, every month KAL moves about 12,000 parts through inventory as part of their normal maintenance procedures. Unfortunately, “the legacy maintenance system did not provide detailed information about required materials at the time purchase requests were made. Lack of integration with the core ERP systems limited visibility and led to inaccurate purchase requests.” But solving this problem is more complicated than integrating to ERP. The real problem stems from the way in which new/revised part requirements are communicated to the airlines. Specific parts requirements are frequently buried within several different types of documentation, and part numbers are often tied to certain tail-numbers of aircraft (tail number effectivity). As a result, every ninety days when documents are revised there is a chance that the allowable parts for any given aircraft may also change.
The traditional way of updating the allowable parts list, kept in the ERP and inventory system, is to have someone review all the new documentation and manually make the changes. This is tedious work, and over time errors can creep into the ERP system. One of the advantages to using Enigma is that it quickly identifies all the changes in each revision of the documentation. Any changes to maintenance procedures can be flagged and used to automatically update maintenance job cards. Just as important, any changes to parts requirements can be flagged and used to automatically update the ERP and inventory system.
When a maintenance organization like KAL uses 12,000 parts a month, ensuring that procurement and logistics is ordering the right parts and positioning them in the right places is critical to success. The article quotes GyooYeon Cho, managing vice president of maintenance planning at Korean Air as saying, “Thanks to the increased accuracy of the maintenance planning operation, Korean Air has reduced its cost for materials and labor…We achieved significant improvements in preventive maintenance and can better plan the capacity of human resources and material resources in advance. We always have the proper inventory of parts, components, and materials on hand. This will reduce the cost of the maintenance operation.”
While Enigma isn’t specifically mentioned in the PROFIT article (it is an Oracle publication after all) our role is well-known by Oracle and KAL executives, and we are proud to have been a part of this impressive success at Korean Airlines.
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.
An article in the April edition of Field Technologies Magazine spoke at length about how SMB companies are looking to leverage mobility. According to the SMB Group, a market research firm, the number of SMB enterprises considering giving their workforce mobility solutions has tripled. This is a significant number but it doesn’t mean that all field engineers will be getting company hardware. Service delivery is a key factor in driving adoption of mobile technologies, especially as a means to stay competitive. Firms that pursue a mobility solution have a number of choices related to deployment and implementation.
Some of the unique implementation challenges for mobility solutions are that most companies don’t have the time or capital to roll out a pilot program. Heavy leveraging of BYOD hardware (bring your own device) is another emerging trend for companies trying to cut costs while maintaining a competitive edge. Initially this may reduce hardware expense but, it poses interesting challenges when choosing software solutions. Off the shelf software usually needs some modification to be effective on mobile platforms. On the other hand, solutions that work well on mobile devices may not be scalable to support enterprise-level integration, interactivity and expansion.
Finding reliable, compatible solutions requires partnering with organizations that have mastered aftermarket parts and service processes and successfully deployed them into multiple environments (online, offline, mobile). Companies need powerful solutions that aggregate, integrate and deliver content that is relevant and accurate.
Mobile solutions that are designed for the enterprise and deployed to the field bring the collective experience of the entire organization to every service problem. Companies need solutions that provide a structured and methodical approach to problem solving, so that service technicians are prepared to face a constantly changing set of requirements and multiple types of equipment with whatever mobile device is available.
Mobile devices have uncovered multiple opportunities to improve field service operations. However, those opportunities cannot be realized without enterprise quality software that can: 1) leverage the hardware; and 2) improve efficiency and consistency across the enterprise. Enigma has proven expertise in both these requirements so if mobility is part of your company’s strategy for product service and support, it may be worthwhile to see a demo.