How Manufacturers Can Avoid Service Disruptions Post Hurricane Season 2017

The necessary reconstruction as a result of hurricane season 2017 will be challenging and has only just begun.

In the last two months, the U.S. manufacturing sector has grown more rapidly than it has in almost 15 years. One reason? One of the most devastating hurricane seasons ever recorded.

From Texas and Louisiana, to Puerto Rico and Anguilla, this year’s hurricane season left hundreds of billions in damage, and one of the most comprehensive and complex rebuilding efforts behind, increasing demand for new products and putting strains on after-sales service.

Some of the most impacted communities are just now beginning their reconstruction efforts — and that demand is going to continue to climb — so manufacturers must ensure they have the proper tools, strategies and systems in place to prevent any disruptions that may inhibit rebuilding efforts.

Idle equipment directly correlates to lost productivity. So, to absorb the increased demand of reconstruction, manufacturers need to focus in on guaranteeing product uptime to keep production moving. Uptime places more emphasis on predictive maintenance and proactively repairing equipment before it fails, and shifts away from a break-fix model of service.

Check out the tips below to succeed in this uptime era and meet the added demands of rebuilding efforts:

Shifting from ‘Break-Fix’ to Uptime

The ‘break-fix’ model of replacing a part after it has failed has been at the center of operations in the manufacturing industry since its first step. This method of maintenance invites service disruptions. This is problematic to begin with, but is particularly troublesome in a demanding reconstruction environment.

Under these conditions, manufacturers need to ensure equipment is always functioning at the optimal capacity. This is where the uptime model factors into the equation. With the growth in IoT — which will be worth an estimated $3.7 billion by 2020 — as well as smart parts equipped with sensor technology, companies can use sophisticated after-sales service technology that triggers the need for a replacement part before the equipment is out of service. This removes the guesswork and complications that come with a sudden breakdown or performance malfunction.

Planning Ahead with Older Equipment

As equipment ages it is more apt to break down and require additional maintenance — including the most durable of equipment, such as construction equipment. And since it’s oftentimes more budget-friendly to repair an existing piece of equipment than to purchase a brand new replacement, the average age of durable equipment continues to rise.

This means that manufacturers must be more tuned-in to when a piece of equipment might need maintenance. In addition to embracing uptime, businesses need to ensure that their service parts inventory is properly allocated and can be distributed in the most efficient manner possible. Fifty percent of service calls fail due to lack of part availability, so manufacturers must adapt business practices and technologies that automate and optimize service parts inventory — ensuring critical equipment is always up and running.

Organization 2.0

With so many affected regions requiring many different reconstructive needs, organization is imperative for manufacturers, and will be challenging. Fortunately, there are sophisticated solutions that help make these complex tasks manageable.

According to Gartner, supply chain management (SCM) software is going to be worth $19 billion by 2021. This is because these tools allow manufacturers and supply chain companies to both better control and understand every facet of their businesses — from floor performance to distribution and inventory. Manufacturing has always been hard work, but with modern tools it doesn’t need to be as hard as it has been in the past.

The necessary reconstruction as a result of hurricane season 2017 will be challenging and has only just begun. But by focusing on maximizing product uptime and taking a proactive approach to production, maintenance and strategy, manufacturers can help affected communities rebuild as efficiently as possible.

Gary Brooks is CMO at Syncron.

More in Operations