Manufacturers are increasingly selling their products, not as stand-alone items but with an integral service offering, which provides the opportunity to establish a longer lasting relationship with their customers. At the same time, today’s customers are demanding round the clock service and always-on products. Businesses must be ready and able to deliver maximised product uptime or watch their customers take their business to more prepared competitors.
Manufacturers have to get the balance right between bringing a new concept to the market and responding to what consumers want, at the right time. While businesses must be seen to innovate, products sometimes come to market that the consumer is simply not ready for. The Sinclair C5 comes to mind, which could be seen as the forerunner to the now future of automobiles – the electric car – but at the time received a less than enthusiastic reception. Launched in 1985, the vehicle was deemed a failure and the business went into receivership.
Conversely, the time is right for servitisation, with maximised product uptime at its core. With subscription services and product sharing becoming commonplace, customers now want access to products over ownership. For example, car sharing schemes are launching across the UK offering drivers convenient and cost-effective access to vehicles, without the hassle of owning them. And maximised product uptime is critical to this “product as a service” offering, as the model only works if the products are up and running at all times. Automotive manufacturers must ensure that these vehicles are always ready to drive: downtime will drive customers away.
This is a major shift in the way manufacturers have operated for decades. Manufacturers have previously focused on fixing products after they have already broken down. However, the shift to servitisation and customers’ refusal to accept the downtime that comes with the old approach are driving manufacturers to shift their focus from ad hoc, retroactive repairs to dynamic repair prevention, which is what maximised product uptime is all about. This proactive approach is widely heralded as the future for manufacturers. But actually, maximising product uptime is already dominating the way original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) think about their businesses today.
Recently, Syncron partnered with Worldwide Business Research (WBR) to determine how prepared manufacturers are to deliver maximised product uptime and unveiled several key findings about how it is impacting their business strategy today and how prevalent it is in their future plans.
Executives are feeling the pressure to focus on maximised product uptime
It’s not just customers who are looking for uptime-based services, but boardrooms as well. In fact, 66 per cent of manufacturers said that maximised product uptime is already a critical priority and that they have a strategy in place, or that it is a critical priority for the future because of pressure from executives. Paired with the fact that 98 per cent of end-users said that they want to see OEMs offer service agreements that guarantee product uptime, the groundwork is well underway for uptime to become the primary way of doing business in manufacturing.
A majority of OEMs are ready to implement an uptime solution in the near future
Already, 34 per cent of OEMs surveyed are capable of implementing a solution that can deliver maximised product uptime today. Meanwhile, another 39 per cent said that they would be able to deliver such as solution within the next two years. This is a massive leap ahead of where the industry had expected it would be even a year ago and lays the framework for even more rapid movement forward in the coming years.
OEMs are implementing the necessary infrastructure
Before OEMs can support a service model that centres on maximised product uptime, they must have the data to support this new strategy, and OEMs know this. Seventy-one per cent of respondents indicated that they are currently gathering data from sensor-equipped products in the field to get real-time updates on equipment performance. In addition, 76 per cent say they have at least some infrastructure in place to use the data they have to support a solution that maximises product uptime.
Maximised product uptime is one of the most disruptive trends to hit manufacturing in a long time. And with the focus and need for maximised product uptime only expected to increase, the manufacturing space is ripe for innovation and will be one of the most interesting sectors to follow in the years ahead. Whether the driver is manufacturing innovation or customer demand, the time has come for businesses to deliver on uptime, adapt to customer expectations, or be left behind.