Mechanics know a lot about the tools they use and the equipment they repair. They are a rich source of information, if only someone would listen. Dealers and field service organizations count on mechanics and technicians to properly maintain and repair equipment, but often overlook the competitive advantage of experienced service technicians.
We were curious about just what sorts of insights top performing equipment mechanics could bring to the topic of parts catalogs, so we asked a handful of equipment service technicians what common service related challenges and roadblocks they encountered during their workday.
Here’s what we found.
Time. Overwhelmingly mechanics and service technicians agreed their most common challenge was time – they’re under great pressure to fix equipment quickly and correctly in order to minimize equipment downtime.
One task that slowed them down and ate into their repair schedule was looking up parts. For mechanics still using printed parts and service manuals, this made sense. But surprisingly mechanics using digital documents, PDF parts lists and service manuals, also experienced the same frustration. They noted that it was difficult to lookup parts or search for information. To make matters worse, the information they needed was spread among many different documents, in many different formats stored in many different locations. Additionally, the programs used to browse, sort or search for parts were hard to navigate and not intuitive. And, once they finally found the right replacement part, they had to use a different system to order it, or have someone else order it for them.
Accuracy. A second irritation for mechanics was that the part and/or service information was wrong. A part may have been discontinued with no indication of what replaced it, there may be confusion about which part is actually the right part to order or service bulletins with the latest service tips may not have been distributed. Inaccurate parts information, service manuals or bulletins could be important to what they were working on, especially in the case of discontinued parts that had been replaced with new parts altogether.
The mechanics were often left with two options: call the OEM or customer service manager to get the most current information and wait for a reply, or blindly order the parts anyway and take the chance that the new parts or service bulletins would ‘probably work’ about the same. That kind of guesswork was a risk they regularly took in order to keep the repair moving forward.
Portability. A third common thread for field service mechanics in particular was portability. Information that is available at the shop may not be available to the mobile technicians working on-site at a remote customer location. As a result, field service technicians felt they had to do more preparation, more organization, and be more knowledgeable than shop mechanics precisely because they often had to work out of a van.
It would be easy to see how some operations executives may regard these three areas of concern (time, stale info and portability) as simply grumpy mechanics complaining about their work environments. But astute managers may see them for something more – indispensable kernels of insight that any OEM would love to know so they can improve the number of parts and quality of support delivered to their customers.
If we take each point and deconstruct it, we begin to see the wisdom that mechanics add to our understanding of aftermarket parts and service repair.
- Challenge: “It takes too long to look up parts and service information”
- Translation: slow data retrieval and order processing
• Easier, faster, more intuitive parts and service lookup
• Make ordering OEM parts easier
• Speed rate of repair
- Challenge: “When I finally find the information, I’m not sure it’s accurate”
- Translation: Inaccurate info leads to guessing, parts ordering errors, and poor first time fix rates
• Put current, accurate parts and service information in the hands of mechanics
• Remove ‘guesswork’ from the equation
- Challenge: “I need information where I’m working, no matter where that is”
- Translation: Lack of access to information puts service technicians at a disadvantage
• Equip all equipment mechanics with online and offline access to parts and service information so everyone has access to best practices
Mechanics want to do their jobs well but they need the right tools to succeed. After all, the success of each mechanic and technician contributes to the success of the OEM; they represent your brand to your customer. The insight and experience of mechanics can teach OEMs a lot about how to improve the efficiency of aftermarket part sales and equipment service to help make it more profitable.
Learn more about how Enigma InService EPC (electronic parts catalog) can help you translate your mechanic’s challenges into your operational efficiency and aftermarket parts profit.