A quick internet search provides a vast array of spare parts information for all sorts of industries. But the big question is: How can you trust it to be accurate?
The internet revolution has made access to information easier than ever and created a society that expects that access to be free. Being able to get something for nothing seems more important than checking the validity of the information or the legality of getting it.
In regulated sectors such as gas, aerospace or rail, this has implications that can impact hugely on safety.
Many manufacturers emphasize that only genuine parts supplied through their own distribution channels or those of authorised partners should be used. This ensures that the safety standards designed into appliances are maintained through responsible servicing and repair.
The same should be true of spare parts information.
Whilst some manufacturers allow free access to parts lists through their own websites, not all do. This increases the likelihood of service engineers obtaining parts information from other sources, which may not be authorised or legitimate.
Putting aside any copyright issues that may arise from reproducing information without authorisation, the validity and currency of data is of real concern. When data is obtained from sources other than the manufacturer, what guarantee is there that it is correct? Whilst there may be a degree of acceptance that free information may have inaccuracies, there is an expectation that any product containing parts and servicing information will be authorised by those manufacturers whose data is included.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Having accurate and up-to-date data feeds is vital for correct parts identification. Using a solution like Infomill’s PartsArena or AnswersAnywhere guarantees that all parts and servicing data is supplied directly from or with the authorisation of the manufacturers. Building relationships with manufacturers means that updated data is supplied on a regular basis.
Knowing that data is supplied directly from manufacturers gives service companies the assurance that their engineers will be ordering correct parts. This in turn reduces return visits and other costs associated with incorrectly ordered parts.
In today’s litigious culture, there is no room for incorrect or invalid data and manufacturers take unauthorised use of their data very seriously. Using a product for parts identification that has the backing of the manufacturers is therefore vital when it comes to providing a first class service.
It was meant to be just a quiet evening drink after a very hectic day with an Infomill client. The club had a typical American sports bar theme. Nothing too unusual about that but this particular bar was the only token of western ‘culture’ in this remote factory town in South Korea. Considering I’d been immersed in an intense Korean work assignment for the last few days, the bar provided a much needed degree of familiarity.
The large television screen above the bar was showing a program about the technology used in Formula 1 motor racing. I sipped my drink and watched with interest. Infomill had completed a system the previous year for one of the Formula 1 teams that managed car parts which were being constantly changed during practice sessions and provided a real-time link from the pit-lane garage to their factory. It was, if I say so myself, a cool system and a tremendous accolade being part of such a high-profile industry.
It became obvious that the satellite channel I was watching was sponsored by a large technology company who were showing what they did in Formula 1. They had a lot of clever technologies to show off that I found impressive. Then the screen zoomed into an extremely familiar-looking parts system in a pit-lane garage.
I nearly fell off my bar stool when I recognized the system on the screen was in fact from Infomill! There I was, in the middle of (almost) nowhere, watching our system being shown to the world as coming from someone else. I was, to put it mildly, somewhat incensed that this global technology company had the audacity to do that. I vowed that I would take action as soon as the job in Korea wrapped up and I returned home to the UK.
A few days later I was back in the office and made the call to the Formula 1 team to recount my story. It turned out that the technology company in question was paying a lot of money to provide its technology to that team and perhaps it would be unhelpful to take the matter any further. I was, as I was reminded gently, working in a small company and the large global technology organisation in question was, um, much much bigger!
I contemplated the difficult position I was in. Could I risk possible litigation against a massive company for passing off our product as theirs? How would the Formula 1 team in question feel about that?
So, in the end I decided not to take the matter any further. With the passage of time I have been able to tell this tale countless times and remind myself that there is an element of flattery here. After all, while Infomill is not the biggest company in the world, we’ve obviously got something special enough for others to want to claim our technology as theirs.
Field Service Management Systems
Topics like IoT and augmented reality are becoming synonymous with the future of field service. There is no doubt that new technology will play a key role in field service efficiency as we move away from the traditional break/fix model and towards a predictive, service-based one. However, investing in and making the transition to new technology can be difficult and time consuming, particularly when resources are still required to maintain current and legacy equipment.
Equipment manufacturers worldwide realize the value of streamlining field service operations. Not only can it save money and increase field service efficiency, but it will improve their competitive position by increasing customer satisfaction and therefore improving the chances of future sales. These are two of the main reasons that equipment manufacturers are adopting Field Service Management (FSM) systems.
The time and money saved through more efficient field service operations can be invested in accelerating time to market for new products and services, providing the opportunity for manufacturers to increase their marketshare with future technologies.
All FSMs promise to deliver efficiencies in field service processes and management. But few, if any, assist the Field Service Engineer (FSE) in actually fixing the problem. And this, after all, is why the FSE was dispatched in the first place.
Knowledge Management Software
Infomill has found one way to address this issue through their solution AnswersAnywhere. AnswersAnywhere works by transforming current and legacy technical documents and information into modern Intelligent Service Assistants and creates an Active Knowledgebase that aids the FSE in quickly diagnosing problems. It also automates the process and accuracy of ordering parts.
AnswersAnywhere acts as a companion to existing FSM solutions delivering on-site time savings and fewer return visits due to errors in parts ordering. The resulting savings in time and costs increases customer satisfaction and allows the equipment manufacturer to concentrate on getting new and improved products to market faster.