A Service Provider's Guide to Increasing Profitability by Digitalizing Maintenance, Repair and Operations
Service providers are under tremendous pressure – competition in the market has never been more...
Pick up any research study and the “resistance to change” would be the biggest barrier to undertaking digital transformation. In our experience of working with companies across industries, people and culture are among the biggest challenge to a successful digital transformation initiative. Several companies till this date use Excel spreadsheets or worse, pen and paper, to manage work orders, scheduling, asset, and inventory maintenance.
Microsoft Excel is a great tool, but might not be ideal for the activities required to effectively manage maintenance, repair, and operations.
Take downtime, for example. It might be easy to look at the amount of downtime at your facility, both planned and unplanned, and tell yourself that it is under control or that it’s a necessary evil. This is probably how it has been done for all these years.
Now, imagine if there was a way to identify unnecessary downtime and eliminate it? Less downtime means lower costs, better labor efficiency, reduced backlog, and greater asset reliability. This is just one of the many benefits which an MRO suite could potentially bring to the table when comparing the traditional MS-Excel or Pen and paper methods to manage assets and maintenance.
While it may be tempting to continue using the pen-and-paper system that is probably worked for the organization for so long, this business-as-usual approach could hamper growth prospects in the future. In this article, we have pitted the traditional approaches to managing maintenance, repair, and operations (Excel spreadsheets and Pen, paper & whiteboard) to using an MRO application to understand how the digital shift would be imperative to business growth in the future.
Pen & paper - A customer service associate, technician, or operator fills out a paper work order form by hand. It could potentially be for any use case – whether it is for preventive maintenance or an unplanned breakdown. The work order is then delivered to the office and filed or brought to the technician in an emergency.
If a work order is coming from a partner or someone outside their team, they can use the application’s work request portal to submit a request. The request gets forwarded to the maintenance team via the MRO application.
MRO Application: Work orders for unplanned repairs are done raised and managed remotely through mobile MRO software application so there is little or no delay to deliver the request. In cases of preventive maintenance, work orders are triggered automatically through the triggers fed into the MRO application, and time is not lost manually filling out every instance.
The MRO application will significantly reduce the time it takes to create and submit work orders with its mobile capabilities. Less time spent filling out and submitting work orders means fewer steps between downtime and getting an asset up and running again. Even by reducing the process by a couple of minutes for every work order, you can gain hundreds of hours of extra production every year. Not to mention, the unwanted manual errors which might increase the inefficiencies in the system. One can also set mandatory fields on work request forms, which implies that the necessary and correct information would be available readily which would avoid back-and-forth communication to clarify the requests.
Pen & paper – Usually, in this case, the technicians check the office, sorts through the work orders assigned to him, and decides which ones he would want to tackle first. In case of any urgency, the technician has to be notified either via phone call or message about the severity and the SLA of the issue at hand.
MRO Application - Technicians are assigned work orders and alerted of their duties through the mobile maintenance app. Technicians can also see which work orders are outstanding, their priority level, and their status; which the managers can track their activity and performance. This eliminates guesswork or shuffling through papers.
With an MRO application, there is no time from the time a work order is issued and the technician is alerted. The technician can jump on a task quicker, significantly reducing the amount of time lost in non-value-adding activities. Being able to see the status of a work order in real-time, allows technicians to check assets that are might important to production or tasks that might have a shorter SLA. Understandably, repairs are conducted within the scheduled time slot and the reliability is improved.
Pen & paper – Before the technician gets down to the task at hand, he would have to lay out a strategy for the asset maintenance. This might involve several visits to the asset site, to the inventory warehouse to check on the availability of parts, perhaps to the office, and might include discussions with colleagues to gauge the asset’s maintenance history and access to guides or manuals to figure out how best to approach the task at hand.
MRO Application - The technician reviews the work order, work history, root cause analysis, and standard failure codes of the asset through the maintenance software’s mobile platform. They can also access manuals, SOPs, photos, and other materials from the app along with inventory levels of any necessary pieces. Needless to suggest, this eliminates the waste activities and provides the technician with all key aspects – inventory, access to the site’s history, manuals, and guides – all at his fingertips.
Multiple trips around the facility, missing spare parts, and time-consuming searches for information could significantly add up to the downtime. An MRO solution suite could group all asset information in place which would be accessible wherever the technician is. The inventory management module in the MRO application would also indicate stock levels and with automated triggers, fed-in could order inventory when the stock goes below the threshold point. This eliminates any potential stock-out situation in the future.
Pen & paper – Based on the training and SOP’s, the information obtained from manuals, and the asset’s history, the technician troubleshoots the issue. He perhaps uses a paper-based checklist to mark all the tasks complete, before heading to the office to sign off the work order.
MRO Application -The technician repairs the problem using root cause analysis, standard failure codes, and corresponding checklists and manuals, all accessible through the digital platform. The work order is signed off on the site as soon as the job is complete and closed in the software, which triggers an automated notification to all the concerned users.
The MRO suite provides the technician a much clearer path to a solution than pen-and-paper troubleshooting. Reducing inefficiencies in the system – reduces time lost for the technician and money lost for the organization.
Pen & paper – Under the traditional method, tasks are put into a physical calendar based on the combination of outlined SOP’s, their production schedules, and the asset history. The managers and the technicians do keep a tab on this calendar to understand when the scheduled maintenance task needs to be completed.
MRO Application – Automated reports are created based on asset history and SOP. Multiple data points from varied sources are aggregated to determine preventive maintenance triggers, which are then automatically added to the software’s calendar, reflected as an upcoming activity on the technician’s mobile interface.
The amount of time, skill, and effort required to create a preventive maintenance schedule based on pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets are just immense. An MRO solution would be able to achieve the same in a fraction of the time and would, needless to say, be way more accurate. This would result in downtime being reduced and asset reliability being improved.
Pen & paper – This is pretty obvious; using traditional whiteboards or Pen & paper solutions might not provide managers and business executives a snapshot of the key pain points in real-time and would hinder decision making. Shared Excel spreadsheets are better at this but would be far from ideal.
MRO Application – An MRO application would have massive advantages over the traditional methods on the real-time visibility of data. With the ability to aggregate data pointers from various applications, the reporting module and the dashboards provide the executive management with the snapshot of the business and the ability to make informed business decisions on the fly.
We can already identify the pattern in the various knockout rounds that have been created above. An MRO application is well and truly the better alternative to traditional methods of asset management. Organizations still using whiteboards or Excel spreadsheets would eventually lose out in the race to build an organization that is ready for any uncertainty the business environment brings to them.
Recent studies indicate that even in 2020, as many as 25% of FSO’s were still using spreadsheets for job scheduling, while the rest still use whiteboards and other manual methods. Another study reflects that only about 48% of the organizations are using software to manage operations.
Steer has various ready-to-deploy templates on its MRO suite. Templates around Work order management, Inventory management, Preventive maintenance, reporting and dashboards, requisition and procurement, and AI-based predictive maintenance are fully customizable to the process flows unique to your organization. This implies that you could bid goodbye to guesswork and paperwork through faster scheduling, greater control over costs, and crystal-clear visibility of the entire asset management & equipment maintenance operations.
Are you one of the organizations that are still reliant on the traditional methods to manage operations and don’t know where to begin?
Start by scheduling a free demo of the Steer No-Code MRO suite HERE to understand how your organization might benefit from an MRO solution that is customizable to your unique requirements.
Sid Wadehra is a seasoned and a result-oriented professional with varied experience spanning geographies from leading multinationals to fast growing start-ups. His industry experience is well-complimented with business education from a global business school. Sid's expertise include digital transformation, corporate strategy, and innovation management.