Food Engineering magazine just published their 8th Annual Replacement Parts Directory in their August 2010 issue and in it they included a Replacement Parts & Components Survey of food and beverage professionals that has some very good information in it.
Two of the charts stood out to me and offered some really great customer-centric insight into the parts and maintenance process.
The first asks “Who Makes Most Replacement Calls?” The results aren’t too surprising:
- Maintenance – 53%
- Plant Operations – 14%
- Engineering – 12%
- Administration/Executive – 10%
- All Others – 11%
Though the results aren’t shocking I think there’s value in really knowing that people from these various roles will be calling you. Put yourself in their shoes and you realize the challenges one group faces day-to-day may be drastically different from another group (say maintenance staff versus engineering). You may be able to adjust your service approach in slightly different ways depending on the role of who’s calling.
The second question asks about “Favored Strategies for Maintenance” and here’s where the results get interesting:
- Visual Inspections – 43%
- Fix When Broken – 22%
- Time-Based Replacement – 12%
- Predictive Tools – 11%
- Automatic Monitoring – 6%
- Volume-Based Replacement – 6%
There are a lot of ways to interpret this data. Perhaps you think predictive maintenance or automatic monitoring systems are something you could put in place to make your company more cutting edge. The survey results though show that only 17% of customers favor this. There’s two contrasting deductions you could make with this info – it may be that a lot of customers don’t have systems in place that do this and that’s why they don’t favor these strategies (because they don’t know about them). But it could also be that some customers, even with these types of systems, will continue to rely on the traditional methods of eyeballing it and calling you only when it breaks (because they don’t care about them).
Either way it goes to show that while there is some definite room for growth in those areas, perhaps just offering it alone on your systems isn’t enough. Maybe you need to combine that with some training and education sessions with your customers to get them to fully understand the benefits of it. We have a tendency to assume that our customers will just know about and want the cutting edge stuff, but it’s up to us to make sure they know why it’s a good thing. We didn’t know we needed iPods until Apple told us we did, and the same may be true for things like this. Remote diagnostics, PackML, and all sorts of other bells and whistles may be intuitively no-brainers for us (the machine manufacturers), but until you make a compelling case to the customer for it, it will always fall into the realm of “nice-to-have, not must-have.”