Last week ATP had the pleasure of participating in the Field Service Medical conference in San Diego, CA. Most of the presentations at this conference focused on practical approaches for improving the success of field technicians and for implementing meaningful service measurements and analytics.

Unlike last year’s conference, M2M communication (Machine to Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things) topics were not as prevalent, indicating that much of the “buzz” is wearing off as companies realize that M2M has actually been around for years (decades?) and really needs to be treated as a normal and accepted part of the service and support landscape. (That’s not to imply that IoT solutions are lacking in innovation but rather that manufacturers are no longer impressed with M2M being dressed up as IoT to participate in the IoT hype and are instead looking for pragmatic, cost-effective solutions to their real-world product support problems.)

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Servicing Complex Equipment And The Cost of Troubleshooting

ATP was honoured to present on the topic: “Youthenize Your SMEs – Enable Everyone to Act Like an Expert.” While the title of this talk was intended to add a bit of humour to the proceedings, the main point was to highlight diagnostic speed and accuracy as the primary differentiator between experienced and inexperienced technicians. When it comes to servicing complex equipment (like medical devices) there is significant variability between rookies and experts based on the time needed to properly diagnose and repair problems. (That’s what makes someone a subject matter expert/SME.)

As another speaker pointed out, “fixing machines is easy, it’s knowing what’s broken that’s difficult.” Based on conversations at the conference, it’s widely agreed that troubleshooting has the largest impact on cost, time and quality of service delivery. To address this situation, we suggest that companies use six-sigma approaches to investigate their diagnostic processes, seeking ways to control the variability in diagnosis and troubleshooting. Finally, we explained how controlling diagnostic variability delivers two important benefits—predictable response times, and faster repairs—both of which are critical to improving the cost, time and quality of service.

An Insightful Roundtable On Service Transformation

ATP also hosted a roundtable discussion on the topic of: “Next Generation Support as a Corporate Objective – Building the Business Case.” We were pleased by the number of participants and the level of engagement in this conversation about ways to get service transformation projects onto a corporate strategic agenda. Many seasoned veterans contributed ideas about how to shift the conversation from services as a necessary evil (or afterthought) to services as an essential corporate strategy for growth. Part of that conversation revolved around measurable and meaningful metrics and associated ROI, which we hope to cover in a future blog.

Steve-Lightstone.jpgATP’s primary mission is to ensure that maintenance and repairs of complex equipment are executed with similar efficient expertise around the world. A related mission is to deliver feedback from the field to engineering and service management to identify new failure modes and emerging defect trends. A critical capability that’s necessary to complete these missions is to allow diagnostic and repair information to be freely shared—with other technicians, and with product engineers. When technicians can easily identify and troubleshoot equipment problems, companies find that more issues are recognized and resolved more quickly, ensuring that subject matter experts are required for only the most critical issues.

About the Author: ATP

ATP is the leading provider of maintenance tracking, flight operations, inventory management, repetitive defect analysis, and troubleshooting software. The company’s applications help reduce operating costs, improve aircraft reliability, and supports technical knowledge sharing and collaboration within the business aviation, military/defense, commercial aviation, and OEM industries.

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