By Jeng Yi Choong, Kepner-Tregoe

Equipment uptime is a key factor in determining the production output of your manufacturing operations.  Every minute that equipment is down is not just lost opportunity and capacity, but lost profitability and productivity as your employees sit idle waiting for repairs. With equipment reliability being so important, companies need to leverage all resources at their disposal to keep equipment up and running in working condition.  Fortunately, they are not alone in this quest and can leverage a network of equipment suppliers to increase uptime.

Very few companies produce the equipment they use in-house – they purchase it from equipment suppliers.  The ultimate goal of these suppliers is to make their customers happy and achieve productivity so they’ll be able to secure repeat business in future. As a result, most suppliers offer a set of post-sale services to help customers maximize value and satisfaction with their products.  From a company perspective, leveraging supplier services can provide a number of benefits including:

  • Increased support capacity: most manufacturing companies have limited support staff assigned to maintain production line equipment.  Leveraging suppliers enables internal staff to assume a greater breadth of responsibility and utilize a contingent workforce to provide a flexible support capacity to respond to issues when they occur.
  • Access to specialized expertise:  modern manufacturing equipment is more than motors, pullies, and mechanical parts.  Most are complex computer driven electronics with specialized operating systems and complex components.  It isn’t practical for most internal staff to develop a depth of knowledge sufficient to independently support all of the various pieces of equipment in a manufacturing facility -  equipment suppliers provide access to specialized expertise on how to monitor, maintain and repair the critical equipment your company depends on.
  • Scalability to support distributed installations:  rarely is all of a company’s equipment located in a single place.  With distributed facilities and technology enabled logistics networks, it is tough for many organizations to support the geographic footprint of equipment installations.  Supplier services provide the opportunity to leverage economies of scale with experts geographically distributed to support multiple customers.  It is not practical for more companies to replicate the coverage with in-house staff.
  • Product team responsiveness to engineer fixes: perhaps the most valuable asset that companies gain by leveraging suppliers for support and maintenance is a direct relationship with the product development teams if some sort of product fix or software patch is required.  With suppliers directly engaged in providing support, product teams are likely to be more responsive in prioritizing issues than if your company were simply a customer without the ongoing engagement.

The access to technical resource and scalability benefits can help to extend the reach of your internal teams to provide more effective monitoring of your equipment, better responsiveness when something breaks and quicker resolution of issues -leading to faster restoration of operations.  In addition to being there when something breaks, many suppliers provide preventative maintenance services wherein they remotely monitor your systems for signs that an issue could arise and preemptively replace aging parts, tune software configurations to avoid an outage from ever occurring. 

The combination of preventative and responsive services from equipment suppliers can significantly improve your company’s equipment up-time leading to increases in productivity and profitability.  Kepner-Tregoe has been the industry leader in problem-solving and operational excellence for over 60 years and our experts have helped countless companies improve manufacturing productivity and reliability through a combination of training, consulting and process best practices.  To learn more about how we can help your company, visit www.kepner-tregoe.com

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