Historically, maintenance was primarily viewed as the activity and cost of the asset operator. Manufacturers optimised the process of designing and building an asset, while the operators optimised its maintenance, repair and overhaul in a manner that would maximise revenue. In the late 1980s, most of the technical challenges were met and the approach started to change. Organisations started looking for areas of cost reduction and outsource work.
Some operators identified opportunities to increase revenues from MRO operations and established separate operational facilities. Many new maintenance-focused organisations, mainly focused on optimising maintenance activities, sprang up.
However, the market trends over the past decade have encouraged industry players to reposition themselves across the supply chain. The result has been integration of technology end-to-end, which is one of the key drivers of the most recent supply chain technology.
Integrated Supply Chain
Apart from this, there has been a change in how operators view the supply chain. Today’s maintenance companies are under pressure to keep an asset mobile. To accomplish this, they require better communications tools along the supply chain. Dynamics AX allows the integration of business systems to move data and information and utilising the portals has an easy process for customers and suppliers to be integrated with you.
These two industry changes are the key drivers of the need for advances across the end-to-end supply chain of asset management. Dynamics AX can provide the advancement that today’s business needs to take an industry lead.
Issues and Challenges Facing the MRO Industry
The MRO industry faces the perpetual challenge of striking an optimum balance between maximising fleet availability, minimising operating costs and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. To strike the balance, organisations have to overcome some challenges which AX can help with:
i) Competitive Services
AX will allow you to simplify the business processes, providing the ability to create cost effective solutions for your clients. Organisations have to decide the optimum set of integrated maintenance offerings that will provide both operators and asset owners with genuine levels of “service”. Understanding the cost base allows companies to calculate the most effective and efficient options to them.
ii) Predictive Maintenance
Tracking what is maintained when and plotting historical information to allow things to be maintained before they break down has become a fundamental service requirement. Dynamics AX allows maintenance to be planned into the operational schedule.
iii) Effective Collaboration
Service providers can’t afford to have every spare and part in stock. As such the need for effective partnerships to be fostered, is key allowing the import of catalogues into AX enabling quick purchasing and provision of spares. The scope for genuine collaboration with OEMs and third party logistic suppliers and providers is greater today with AX.
iv) Technology Utilisation
Organisations may need to determine new technologies that can be deployed now and how best they can be utilised. Utilisation of mobile solutions, on the shop floor, out on the road or wherever allows information to be captured analysed and fed back to the point of use much quicker now. Dynamics AX and Microsoft have developed a full suite of integrated mobile solutions to aid this process.
v) Supply Chain Optimisation
MRO management has to determine whether critical components and services should be physically located around the world to provide the quickest reaction time. This should be done without having to commit valuable capital investment in redundant facilities and slow moving inventory. Planning and forecasting requirements for each aspect is key to meeting the service and contractual needs without incurring enormous inventory costs. Integrate that with the mobility solutions and you have the ability to manage inventory requirements even in the mobile service world.
vi) Tracking Issues, Complaints and Warranty
If you get this wrong then your costs can get out of control. Having the ability to track key parts when things get replaced and matched against Warranty is key to an efficient process. Dynamics AX provides that process as a basic out of the box capability. Tracking not only your Warranty offered but the Warranty obtained from your suppliers or the OEM.
vii) Managing the repair process
It’s never as simple as it sounds. Turning the BOM upside down so starting with the item and breaking it back into it’s component parts allows the repair process to be properly managed in Dynamics AX.
Automated Maintenance Planning and Part Provisioning
Let’s look at an example on how MRO providers can meet the combined challenges with effective collaboration and supply chain optimisation.
Providers can use MRO in Dynamics AX to access product performance in real-time to get the right people with the right materials to provide maintenance at the right time. For example, an OEM may be supplying operators with on-board health monitoring systems as well as on-ground solutions to receive and process this information.
The true value of MRO providers is not in the technology they provide, but in the way the way they are structured, and how they integrate flow and usage of newly available information into their existing planning activities. The ability to manage the large amount of information that the maintenance organisation needs is critical. Leveraging and integrating the information in a structured and decisive way improves the efficiency of MRO providers with Dynamics AX.
People and Parts
Dynamics AX makes it easier for organisations to gather data from different sources and digest it in a faster and accurate manner. However, the technology processes have to stop at some point and be transferred to the real world of people and parts. To take advantage of powerful diagnostics capabilities of AX and the speed of processing, organisations find the training and on-boarding of new staff much simpler in it’s easy to understand processes.