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.
As omnichannel fulfillment requirements become increasingly complex, it's fairly commonplace for retailers to invest in multi-million dollar material handling systems for their distribution operations. All too often, we hear industry stories about companies that make these significant system investments without knowing how to maximize their ROI or planning for its operation, maintenance or evolution throughout the lifecycle. We see material handling systems that may have been engineered for retail store distribution that are now operating primarily as e-commerce facilities. One significant consequence of such an unplanned transition is added expense due to various system adjustements needed to achieve performance goals.
With a proper lifecycle management plan, companies can avoid material handling system missteps and maximize ROI without sacrificing customer service levels. On February 23 at 2 p.m. EST, we will address this topic in our next On The Move webinar, titled "Maximize your material handling system's ROI with lifecycle management." The webinar will explain how successful companies can create a lifecycle management plan for their material handling system and support staff. Intelligrated lifecycle support services experts John Sorensen, Dave Trice and Corey Calla will co-present this informative webinar and cover five key points:
1. Why lifecycle management is critical to maximizing ROI and maintaining profitability - When considering a new material handling system investment, companies should have a clear lifecycle plan from the outset, not only for the system itself, but for the staff and training required to operate it. This is also a good time to evaluate market trends to see what needs may arise within the next five years.
2. How effective lifecycle planning leads to better budget and resource planning - To maximize system ROI, companies benefit from careful planning of capital expenditures, especially the potential to defer these costs across mulitple years. This way, they're over-investing in a first year upgrade when a planned multiple-year expansion could meet the same objectives while offering better long- and short-term operational advantages.
3. The importance of establishing predictable maintenance schedules and procedures - Maintenance is a critically important part of a lifecycle management plan, but it's important to consider its impacts on both uptime and equipment ROI. But the industry's lack of skilled maintenance personnel makes it difficult to find and keep a qualified service team on-site - and makes training what staff you do have even more important. There are many maintenance strategies to address all of these issues.
4. When to replace parts, plan rebuilds, and upgrade software and controls - With the continuous operation of material handling systems, it's inevitable that certain parts will need to be replaced. Having a parts list and even a schedule for planned replacement is critical to maintaining uptime. Technology upgrades, which include software releases and controls components that become obsolete over time, must also be accounted for in a lifecycle management plan.
5. How partnering with an experienced OEM can deliver optimal results - Partnering with an OEM that takes a proactive approach to lifecycle management is perhaps the most important factor to consider when purchasing a material handling system. Very few OEMs have the customer commitment, qualified resources and industry expertise to offer anything other than reactionary programs.
As more leading retailers seek to ensure 99 percent uptime objectives and maximize ROI, effective lifecycle management will become increasingly essential in any material handling system investment. We hope you'll join our webinar to learn how you can implement a true lifecycle management plan. Register here and stay tuned for more relevant topics in our new On The Move webinar series.
In the latest video blog, John Sorensen discusses lifecycle management and the rebranding of Intelligrated's aftermarket services.
While it can be tempting to reduce short-term operational costs using non-original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, cutting corners can lead to crippling unplanned downtime and out-of-warranty equipment damage.
Read on for seven BIG reasons why every facility should be well-stocked with OEM-engineered replacement parts.
1. The true cost of ownership
While hidden costs are not obvious at the time of purchase, smart buying decisions account for the complete cost of ownership. OEM parts are designed to last and meet mean-time-between-failure expectations for preventive maintenance programs. They perform to specification, with no negative impact to ancillary parts.
2. Designed and tested not just to fit, but to function
All materials used in OEM parts satisfy requirements of high-friction applications in which parts interface with each other. Sure, there are some non-OEM parts that function without any apparent issues, but they may just be a ticking time bomb due to inferior build quality and hard-to-detect manufacturing imperfections.
3. The generic part may not be the same as the current OEM replacement
Operations cannot rely on non-OEM suppliers for the latest version of a replacement part. Through the life of equipment, OEM engineers make continuous design enhancements and produce updated iterations of replacement parts. OEMs send updates of new part modifications and availability to ensure enhanced performance and true lifecycle support.
4. Generic parts may come with a “warranty,” but it stops there
Some generic parts come with a warranty, but those are replacement only and do not cover damage caused to other system components. Furthermore, original system warranty compliance requires the use of authentic OEM parts to prevent damage to ancillary parts and systems – the use of generic parts may void the system manufacturer’s warranty.
5. The right part at the right time
The only thing worse than inferior parts is having no parts. When operations require a tight deadline to source a replacement, the OEM is well-prepared with installation information and order histories to instantly know operational needs.
6. Don’t risk an accident due to a poor performing non-OEM part
Faulty generic parts can compromise machinery and expose operations to safety risks. Exclusively stocking reliable OEM-warranted parts increases the facility safety and helps shield operations from costly litigation stemming from workplace injuries.
7. Access to the experts
Most OEMs have 24X7 technical support available to find the best possible solution and ensure that operations never take on a problem on their own. OEMs can assist in lifecycle planning and provide key information on “critical spares” to drive smart budgeting to control maintenance and labor costs.
For more information on the advantages of using genuine OEM spare parts, download the Intelligrated white paper, “The value of OEM genuine parts vs. the cost of generic parts.”
Today’s high-speed order fulfillment operations work prolonged hours to meet tight schedules and short order cycles, leaving little time for required repairs, preventive maintenance and benchmarking the relative health of a system.
Complex equipment, controls and software coupled with a shortage of well-qualified personnel, have led more and more facility managers to recognize the myriad benefits of a resident maintenance program. The program helps operations:
1.Solve maintenance staffing and training challenges
A resident maintenance program deploys fully-trained staff and adapts to changing maintenance requirements due to new equipment or seasonal spikes. The risk of losing equipment knowledge due to staff turnover is not a concern as the RM provider institutionalizes this information through a broad base of experts and databases.
2.Control, predict and reduce the cost of maintaining high-tech systems
As operations rely on increasingly complex systems to enable greater throughput, maintenance requirements increase, too. The program provides spare parts for quick repairs, a preventive maintenance schedule, plus instant access to OEM resources and engineering assistance.
3.Reap the benefits of a fully-integrated CMMS
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) provides views of every facility asset throughout its lifecycle and enables system-wide maintenance planning, labor allocation and even individual machine-level monitoring to identify repetitive issues and cost of ownership. The system also shares data with WCS and ERP systems to predict system wear and optimize maintenance budgets and schedules.
4.Prioritize preventive maintenance
When operations run a lean internal maintenance team, preventive maintenance often falls by the wayside, leaving systems vulnerable to unplanned outages and underperforming equipment. A resident maintenance program includes a robust PM program to maximize capital equipment investments and ensure consistent uptime and throughput levels.
5.Breathe easy with contracted uptime
In order to meet important KPIs, operations require sustained uptime. A resident maintenance program contractually guarantees uptime of 97 percent or more. Furthermore, the ROI extends far beyond this number. With guaranteed uptime and maintenance taken care of, operational staff can focus on strategic planning and management functions.
For more information on resident maintenance programs, including real-world examples and information on ROI, read our new white paper, The resident maintenance model.