Getting kicked when you're down

The true cost of equipment downtime or poor asset maintenance goes far beyond the dollar amount you see on the repair invoice. Indeed, an asset’s downtime can have a significant

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Decisiv’s Michael Riemer

impact on your organization’s bottom line. A malfunctioning piece of factory equipment or a broken-down commercial vehicle can result in lost revenue, additional costs and even regulatory fines.

Ineffective service management has shown to increase downtime as well as costs. For many commercial and industrial assets, phone, email, paper and siloed applications negatively impact service-management efficiency—increasing downtime, reducing profitability, and lowering operational efficiencies. The tsunami of connected asset data has renewed awareness and interest in improving asset performance and availability, but this flood of data has done little to solve these service-process challenges.

Plus, ineffective preventative-maintenance (PM) practices increase the potential for more downtime. Without good, proactive, scheduled maintenance management, you are likely to experience more frequent and costly breakdowns, which add additional expenditures based on administrative overhead, overtime pay and rental costs. Equipment-operator productivity and job satisfaction are also negatively impacted. Employees may grow frustrated as they lose wages or miss customer deadlines, leading to turnover, which can affect your company’s ability to generate revenue and increase profits.

Even with improved maintenance, management breakdowns will inevitably occur. And when they do the administration of the repair (not the repair itself) can become a silent productivity and profit killer. Decisiv’s research shows that 90 percent of downtime (for heavy duty commercial assets in North America) is unrelated to the actual repair time. Service-value-chain members are actually spending this unproductive time playing phone/email tag, trying to access information pertaining to a system failure, hunting down service histories or estimates, or other all-consuming and frustrating activities. This process often amounts to no more than an expensive and frustrating “fire drill.”

The benefits of Service Relationship Management

If you’re dealing with these issues, it might be time to implement a service relationship management (SRM) platform to reduce these wide-ranging and negative impacts. SRM platforms optimize service-event management by enabling in-context access to key information (including connected-asset data), real-time communication and collaboration, and business-intelligence tools to enhance decision-making and ensure service-event consistency. This ensures improved uptime, reduced costs and higher productivity across all service-value-chain participants (manufacturers, dealers and customers).

Ensuring a sound PM-management program can be a cornerstone for improved service management. A cloud-based SRM platform automatically captures up-to-date information about asset usage to automate maintenance triggers (e.g. odometer, run-hours, stand-by hours, etc.). The platform enables electronic inspections to help automate information capture. The system also automatically adds pending operations or tasks based on inspection failures to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks after the inspection.

Going beyond preventative maintenance management

The values of SRM go well beyond improving PMs. The overall service-management process can be greatly enhanced through improved communications and collaboration. Instead of the typical patchwork of communications, participants can easily share and access connected-asset data including usage and diagnostic information as well as suggested repair plans, service history, warranty and PM status.

costBy providing context to data and making it actionable, SRM augments the significant investments that companies have made in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and other legacy systems. SRM captures information from connected assets in the context of a defined service-management process—notifying the right individuals and automatically creating an electronic folder (called a “case”) for sharing across service-value-chain participants. When a provider or mobile technician is dispatched, it is done directly in the context of the issue with all necessary information to ensure a fast, efficient and effective repair. During the repair process, estimate approvals, repair status and all communications are updated in real-time. This improves overall visibility and transparency to service events as well as improving decision-making.

SRM platforms also include business-intelligence tools to enhance decision-making and ensure service-event consistency. Real-time risk dashboards and notifications are based on customized service events or asset-attribute thresholds. Risk-dashboard thresholds can be simple—here are examples: Estimates>$10,000 or Repairs are past their promise time or Assets with overdue maintenance. Dashboard criteria can also be grouped using logic and Boolean operators such as Assets that have been out of service for more than three days AND a technician has not yet started work or Service events with high severity faults AND Run-Time Hours<10,000 AND No event updates in the last two hours.

This critical functionality ensures improved service-management efficiency, data quality and process compliance. It also enables users to make course corrections during events that would otherwise add time or cost if they had been reported after the fact.  Dashboards also help prioritize and focus resources on the service events and assets that require immediate attention.

SRM platforms also take advantage of the latest visualization and data-warehouse technologies to provide users with post-event analytics to drive accountability and process improvement. Reports can include details pertaining to asset downtime, provider/shop/technician performance, worst-performing and most costly assets, service-event-process compliance and a host of additional information.

A better bottom-line

When it comes to asset repairs and maintenance compliance, the dollar costs you see are only part of the story. Organizations using SRM solutions to reduce ineffective maintenance practices can achieve as much as 50% reductions in downtime. Improved communication and collaboration that leverages existing investments in IIoT and other legacy applications improves productivity and job satisfaction and reduces costs—in one customer instance, an increase in profit from $10.2 million to $13.2 million.

Ultimately, using an SRM platform can make service and repair a strategic and competitive differentiator. 

Michael Riemer is vice president of product and channel marketing at Decisiv