Rethinking advanced technology for maintenance

Technologies for data acquisition, data communication and analytics have become increasingly viable, affordable, and scalable providing organisations with the opportunity to reexamine their asset maintenance strategies to not only deliver customers better service, but also to enable more predictable and profitable service revenue streams.

While service has always been important, the landscape is changing.

  • Product complexity is increasing and the number of product configurations are proliferating

  • Operational complexity and expanded market reach has made optimising service parts, technical information and resources more difficult

  • Budget declines due to economic conditions have caused manufacturers to reduce maintenance headcount which includes some of the highly skilled workers who have the knowledge and experience to maintain aging equipment. At the same time, these organisations are not seeing sufficient supply of new, adequately trained personnel.

  • Global competition is aggressive, and product features and functions are not enough to sway discerning and demanding customers.

Our recent report Rethinking Advanced Technology Investments for Optimizing Maintenance Strategies, defines IDC Manufacturing Insights' taxonomy for the main categories of maintenance techniques: break/fix, reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), condition-based maintenance (CBM) and predictive maintenance, and reviews the benefits, risks, and investments associated with each strategy.  

The report also examines the steps for developing an optimiSed maintenance strategy that considers the nature and architecture of an asset, its mission criticality, the risk and cost of downtime, budget and workforce constraints, and the investment in advanced technologies. 


 Given the changing landscape and the opportunities technology enablement provides, we believe service organiSations should take the following actions:

  • Reexamine current service operations, delivery models and technology. Determine if current maintenance strategy and technology match business models and customer expectations.

  • Use a systematic approach to selecting and optimising maintenance strategies, including assessing the business need, and creating a roadmap that matches technology investments to the business environment.  This should include a long term roadmap to enhance and scale up capabilities.

    For example, building upon a CBM foundation to implement effective predictive capabilities. This is critical not only to manage investment, but also to control the risks inherent in complex technology implementations by focusing on the application of these technologies in business context.

  • Ensure these initiatives are tied into corporate IT productivity initiatives, such as investments in mobility and analytics.

  • If necessary, create a justification for improving service through better onboard sensors and diagnostics, which will require working with product design and engineering teams.

Advancements in technologies and connectivity have created new opportunities, and now is the time to rethink investments and strategies in service. But, increased awareness of the importance of service at all levels of the organisation, and across domains is critical to successfully harnessing these opportunities.

We want to hear about your strategies for advanced maintenance, or barriers you are up against. Please leave a comment below. 

Posted by Sheila Brennan, Program Manager - Aftermarket and Service Strategies, IDC Manufacturing Insights

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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