Product Reliability and Performance—Information From the Field

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Product reliability and performance—it’s the information manufacturers want most and the information customers refuse to provide. Product reliability and performance—it’s the information needed to improve products and the information used to defend higher fees. Product reliability and performance—it’s the information negotiated into service level agreements and the information disputed for warranty claims. Product reliability and performance information is the key to better products, lower costs and higher profits for manufacturing companies throughout the world.

To gather information about product reliability and performance, most manufacturers use some form of survey process—interviewing dealers, field technicians, customers or all of the above. But the results aren’t accurate. To protect themselves against price gouging (or the perception of it), today’s equipment owners and operators tend to guard information about how machines are used and abused. Software solutions can’t overcome the distrust between manufacturers and customers but they can help manufacturers collect accurate product reliability and performance data. This is not about logging error codes from ECUs, though that’s part of it; rather it’s about gathering deeper insights into how equipment is actually failing (and being repaired) and then applying those lessons to improve product reliability and performance.

To get accurate information about product reliability and performance, manufacturers need to deploy tools that technicians want to use and that collect feedback from the field—information that can’t be captured with built-in tests, maintenance manuals (including IETMs, FIMs and TSGs) and electronic parts catalogs (EPC). Manufacturers need to replace these antiquated approaches with tools that allow field technicians and call centers to dynamically troubleshoot complex equipment problems—collaborating on the most challenging ones—to reduce the cost of unscheduled downtime by separating similar but unrelated problems, streamlining repair decisions, and shrinking unscheduled parts removals. And for each troubleshooting event the software should be able to report on the symptoms, the steps performed and the solution.

Ensuring such tools are fast and easy to use will drive user adoption, which means reliability and design engineers will gain insights about the collective experience of field technicians and call centers supporting global equipment fleets, with trend analysis to identify repeat defects, deteriorating performance and emerging failure modes.

To effectively leverage product reliability and performance information, an OEM needs more than a single solution; however, by deploying advanced troubleshooting tools that integrate with traditional PLM, CRM and CMS solutions, manufacturers can gain the strategic advantage they need while delivering the improved customer and product experience they desire.

Pursuing such a strategy puts field experience at the heart of product design to guarantee customer expectations, minimize failures and maximize performance. With insights that can come only from field technicians, manufacturers will see better and faster results from their corrective action/ preventive action (CAPA) initiatives, as they redesign or eliminate problematic parts and systems into the future.

If your company measures mean-time-to-repair (MTTR), mean-time-between-failures (MTBF), first-time-fix (FTF), repeat visits, no-fault-found (NFF), defects-per-unit (DPU), cost-per-unit (CPU), unscheduled downtime, unscheduled removals (UR), non-routine maintenance (NR) or any of the other key performance indicators of product quality, reliability, performance, maintenance and support, please contact us for a free consultation.

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