Service Parts and the Uptime Era: 3 Things Manufacturers Need to Be Thinking

Service part availability has always been a stumbling block for manufacturers and their after-sales service organizations. And while there’s always conversation around service parts management among after-sales service pros, the status quo isn’t cutting it anymore. Disruption from whirlwinds like Amazon, millennials in the workforce, emerging technology and rapidly evolving customer expectations are creating huge opportunities for manufacturers to adopt new ways of thinking to succeed in this ever-changing landscape.

These changes are leading many manufacturers to switch from a “break-fix” model to one that guarantees product uptime. In a break-fix world, after-sales service is largely centered on reactively replacing parts before they’ve failed. But, with a focus on product uptime, manufacturers can place more emphasis on predictive maintenance. Below are three key thoughts manufacturers should be having to adapt to the “uptime era” quickly and successfully.

“We need to maximize service parts distribution.”

Since there’s a growing emphasis on maximum product uptime, manufacturers need to ensure their service supply chains stay efficient and optimized. While Excel spreadsheets and legacy ERP systems may have been helpful in the past, managing service parts inventory with outdated, cumbersome tools is no longer an effective way to do business.

Good news! A cloud-based service parts management solution can help manufacturers increase both margins and revenue from after-sales service, while simultaneously ensuring maximum product uptime. It easily integrates into an existing ERP system, and allows manufacturers to track service parts, eliminate excess and obsolete stock and forecast when new parts are needed. These practices are critical for meeting customer delivery expectations and maintaining an edge over both direct competitors and third-party e-commerce sites. Beyond keeping products in the right place at the right time, inventory management technology also reduces carrying costs – which are estimated at a mind-boggling 25% of the value of inventory that’s on the shelf.

“We need to prep service techs for new technology.”

With the break-fix train of thought, after-sales service is largely centered on reactively replacing parts once they’ve failed. But, in an uptime world, much more emphasis will be placed on predictive maintenance, knowing how to fix smart parts, remote performance monitoring and more. This will require service teams to have a whole new – or at least revamped – skill-set that, literally, views “time as money.”

Experienced field service technicians with years of experience and knowledge are retiring, and with that comes an influx of millennials as the new field service employee base. According to WBR Digital, millennials are “digital natives and collaborators” and focus on “up-selling and value ads, the customer experience… and connected technologies.” As this shift in staffing continues, it’s more important than ever to equip these new technicians with the skills and resources necessary to make maximized product uptime a reality.

“Service parts are key to our customers’ experiences and loyalty.”

According to BI Intelligence, it takes 12 positive experiences to negate one negative experience. And given how competitive the manufacturing category has become, businesses can’t afford to leave customers unsatisfied with after-sales service. Product uptime is more than just a secondary target metric. Now, it’s the primary way of doing business. The need for pre-emptive maintenance is more important than ever, especially for manufacturers that need to meet the product uptime promised in SLAs. If they can meet (and exceed!) these expectations, they’ll form long-standing relationships with clients, and gain more and more market share.

And while this may seem like a relatively seamless shift in strategy, service organizations should be aware of common failure points, and identify strategies on how to best guarantee maximized product uptime and customer satisfaction if they want to hit the ground running.

Maximized product uptime is rewriting the book on what performance means for manufacturers. And to meet this new definition of performance, manufacturers need to rethink their operations strategies across the board to make product uptime – not just reactive, quick repairs or replacements – a priority.