When it comes to complex equipment, the keys to customer satisfaction are cost, performance and uptime. In today’s business environment, with increased regulations, more litigation, global operating environments and fewer skilled technicians, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for manufacturers to deliver on these customer expectations. As a result, it’s even more important for manufacturers to link field service and design engineering to provide accurate insights to cost, performance and uptime. But what exactly do we mean by cost, performance and uptime?
When we talk about cost, we mean more than just the initial cost of purchase. Rather, cost is referring to TCO—total cost of ownership. TCO includes the purchase and installation cost as well as warranty and recurring operational costs like parts, maintenance and repair, and fuel and depreciation throughout the product’s lifetime.
Performance is another primary factor in customer/product satisfaction. Performance refers to whether a product’s features, speed, capacity, quality and output meet the owner’s expectations. In other words, are you getting the amount of work out of your equipment that you anticipated when you bought it?
Uptime is really a special case of performance, but it deserves its own category. Uptime is the amount of time a machine is available to perform the work it was designed to do. (Sometimes a machine may be “up-and-running”, but performing at a reduced level.) When a machine breaks down it can be very costly to an organization. Depending on the complexity of the equipment, downtime— or the amount of time that the equipment is offline— can cost tens of thousands of dollars per hour. A commercial aircraft, for example, can cost $10,000 every hour it’s offline (AOG—aircraft on ground). Semiconductor equipment, on the other hand, can be significantly more…as much as $70,000/hour. With such high costs associated with downtime, it is critical for manufacturers to ensure their equipment is operational whenever customers need it.
Cost, performance and uptime are crucial elements for ensuring customer satisfaction. Given that customers take these factors into consideration when making purchases, it is even more important for manufacturers to take corrective and preventative actions. Today’s complex business environment makes it increasingly difficult to do this, but linking service and support to engineering allows feedback to flow seamlessly from the field. Taking advantage of feedback from the field enables manufacturers to surpass their customer’s expectations by significantly improving lifecycle costs, optimizing performance and increasing uptime.