It's fairly commonplace for retailers to invest in multi-million dollar material handling systems that serve as the backbone of their distribution operations. What's not as common is the practice of effective lifecycle management to maximize the uptime of these systems by preparing and planning for the unexpected. When you stop and think about it, the reason for this oversight may be somewhat obvious. When systems are new and running at peak performance, it's easy to become complacent and think that things will always run this smoothly. But over time, maintenance is required, controls become obsolete and inevitable situations arise that threaten to halt productivity for hours, days or even weeks. I recently discussed how to avoid this occurrence in our latest On The Move webinar titled," Maximize your material handling system's ROI with lifecycle management."
I was joined on the third installment of our new webinar series by two experts from Intelligrated's lifecycle support services division: Dave Trice, CSCP and senior director of business development, customer service and support; and Corey Calla, senior director of lifecycle sales.
I kicked off the presentation with a definition of lifecycle management and an explanation of why it's critical to managing system assets. Then I explained to those present that lifecycle management programs help managers answer these important questions:
- How will we maintain our system, through reactive and preventive measures?
- What training and support will be required (both internal and external)?
- How will we adapt the system to industry trends and business process changes?
- How can we optimize the system as it matures to maintain peak performance and prevent obsolescence?
To reiterate some valuable points I made in the webinar, the key results of successful lifecycle management planning are ROI, uptime, planned support, low total cost of ownership and continuous system improvement. These all lead to increased system safety, efficiency and dependability.
Dave Trice followed me with a detailed look at what makes up an effective lifecycle management plan. Whether the system is new or mature, he explained that an initial assessment is critical in developing a road map for success. Assessment provides the following lifecycle framework:
- Baseline of system performance and benchmark of OEM specs standards
- Scope of assets, software / hardware platforms, maintenance requirements and spare parts
- Results driven by reporting to establish basis for financial and resource planning
Dave demonstrated how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is important in maintaining visibility to system assets throughout the lifecycle. The webinar's live polling question confirmed his point that most CMMS installations aren't used to their full capacity, a problem he attributed to poor implementation of the software. Used to its full extent, CMMS can improve labor productivity and asset performance through accurate planning and inventory management.
Finally, Corey Calla discussed the importance of partnering with an experienced lifecycle management OEM. He said this gives the DC managers a distinct advantage throughout the system lifecycle by gaining access to a full support network of experts and services, including: system engineers, Web tools, data collection and reporting through the CMMS. An OEM that has intimate knowledge of a material handling system and its lifecycle can not only provide quick resolution of issues but also have the historical data to understand root causes and respond expeditiously.
To view this presentation in its entirety, please visit the archives section of our website.