In the last two posts, we looked at the need for empowering technicians and
new ways to solve old problems in maintenance operations. From these insights, it is clear that the goal is very simple: how do we enable technicians to directly contribute to the uptime of critical business assets?
In this post, we will consider three ways to help technicians impact uptime directly. These are:
Removing tasks that add little or no value in their workflow and;
Guiding troubleshooting steps, and;
Crowdsourcing smarter ways of working that contribute to improved troubleshooting best practices.
REMOVING UNNECESSARY TASKS
Many organisations are plagued by time wasters in their maintenance workflows. Let’s look at a few examples. The first is close out reports that technicians write at the end of their maintenance tasks. There is no doubt useful information is being captured in these reports but these are often for people other than technicians. What if their system wrote these reports for technicians as they performed their duties? All they would have to do is to review, confirm specific details and submit it at the end of the maintenance activity. Better still, what if those reports were fed back as insights for a future technician or analysis to avoid getting into the same situation again?
Another example is that in many maintenance scenarios Aviation engineers need to physically walk between the aircraft and planning offices to get to a station where they order parts or look up manuals. This is because the systems they use, and the systems planners, schedulers and store managers use, are different or aren’t integrated. In wind farms we have observed that technicians are briefed and sent from site offices to wind turbines based on information available at the office. The focus of the actual maintenance event changes upon reaching the site wherein the new information needed to solve the issue is not available - so the technician travels back to the office and repeats the same process.
In both instances, the technician is taken away from the problem, the uptime is directly affected because tool time is reduced due to the time wasted. What if their mobile phones could provide the information they need at their fingertips when they are at the aircraft or wind turbine?
GUIDING TROUBLESHOOTING STEPS
Troubleshooting is not an exact science, though it is a rare problem solving skill. Two engineers don’t perform at the same levels of proficiency when it comes to troubleshooting. Some have photographic memories, while others have good observational skills and inferences. One approach to solve this problem is to provide standard troubleshooting guides. If troubleshooting is guided along a standardised path, the issue is the need to update approaches when asset configuration changes or when there is a new OEM directive warranting a different approach. In many cases, standardisation limits the celebrated troubleshooters whose proficiency levels have reached best practice levels. What if the guides were provided intuitively to everyone and what if the proficient troubleshooters had a way to influence how the best practices are captured and shared?
CROWDSOURCING WAYS OF WORKING
Remember Waze? Waze is the navigation phone app that relies on users to crowd source information about traffic conditions, road conditions, hazards, and other traffic-related inputs. What if there were a Waze for maintenance? What if there were a maintenance app that rerouted the troubleshooting procedure like Google Maps does - based on best practices, “faster routes”, and triangulation of present and past data and manufacturer advisory related to the issue at hand?
A reimagined maintenance environment would seek to free technicians to spend more time on repairs, would eliminate wasteful steps that allow for more time on tool, and introduce intelligence to develop better ways of working. Our product roadmap at LexX is focused on targeting issues like these above. We work hand in hand with technicians in the field to solve these problems with intelligent technology, to revolutionise maintenance, one task at a time.
Product Director at LexX Technologies