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Can we “Uberize” maintenance?

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

It goes without saying that the maintenance market is huge. All maintenance teams in all sectors are democratizing troubleshooting, cost savings and the adoption of new technologies is exploding (including CMMS and next-gen IoT). So, how to change the maintenance market by introducing another way to trigger, buy or sell services in such a jungle?


msapp - Can we "Uberize" maintenance?

Introduction


Uber's main goal is to facilitate the service of taxi drivers. By allowing holders of a driving license to sell a service by moving people from point A to point B with their own car. This is made possible thanks to technological advances that allow a majority of people to have a smartphone.


The “uberisation” of maintenance will aim to popularise industrial maintenance as a service (#imaas). This will allow machine users, service providers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to connect their equipment to trigger, predict and prescribe preventive and reactive maintenance. Trained and experienced people will create video content and easily connect machine users to maximize machine reliability.


Obviously, my analysis is accompanied by tons of problems but it is not the goal here to develop them (Feel free to leave a few comments to initiate the discussion). And as they say, every problem has a solution.


The current wave around respect for the environment and flexibility at work is evolving will soon change the way we consume. And having already talked about it in previous articles, industries will have to adapt by transforming their products, their habits and even their business model. And like all the most disruptive ideas of recent years (Amazon, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb...), the disruption often comes from outside and from technologies.


But how many years will we wait to hope that the industry giants (hardware or software) will be agile enough to facilitate this transformation? When your profits are in the billions, it's hard to be visionary and almost impossible to pivot... Yet today, a large majority of employees use technology more at home than at work.


Change always comes from how people consume and can change their working habits/environment (including earning less but being flexible).


Just take the classic examples of Uber, Airbnb or other youtubers/podcasters… Who would have thought that a global mass of people (mostly Millennials) would prefer to work for themselves?


The "as a service" is definitely born and applications can be widely diversified.


But how do we get there for maintenance? From my point of view, the big players can be left aside, (based on the fact that Hilton hotels did not create Airbnb) make way for start-ups!



Start-ups


Start-ups could be the best way to revolutionize maintenance... Now that the tech giants are doing everything to make the latest technologies accessible and that most countries are facilitating entrepreneurship, everyone can try their luck. Start-ups are very good at solving "niche" problems.


It is interesting to note that many young executives, with an average experience of 5 years in large groups, go out and try to solve the problem that has frustrated them throughout their careers. The large group that employs them has left them no chance to do so internally.


On the other side, there are computer engineers (developers, data and automation gurus, etc.). Although large groups offer them a lot of money, some choose to have fun! Working with the latest technologies and building everything without limits or pressure from the first line of code is obviously priceless!


Note: Startups can grow very quickly as soon as they are successful!


But there is a problem and I will be frank. Industrial manufacturing and processing plants are run by old people who don't understand technology and maintenance. IT managers are stuck with outdated, expensive and complex software. And to top it off, they are wary of the risks that start-ups represent (small structures, data security, etc.)


Industries


Welcome to the Jungle!!!! To help you identify yourself, here is a non-exhaustive list of the different industries concerned:


Note: Each industry listed can be subdivided into subset of industries...

  • Agricultural and forestry equipment manufacturing

  • Apparel manufacturing

  • Appliance and component manufacturing

  • Beverage and tobacco product manufacturing

  • Chemical manufacturing

  • Electronic equipment

  • Fabricated metal product manufacturing

  • Food manufacturing and processing

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing

  • Leather and allied product manufacturing

  • Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing

  • Packaging

  • Paper manufacturing

  • Petroleum and coal products manufacturing

  • Plastic and rubber products manufacturing

  • Primary metal manufacturing

  • Printing and related support activities

  • Textile mills

  • Textile products mills

  • Transportation equipment manufacturing

  • Wood product manufacturing



Change!


You can represent the future of industrial maintenance if you...

  • Admit it's time to introduce a younger culture to the maintenance industry.

  • Stop reducing industrial maintenance to a two-day training.

  • Understand the investments related to new technologies and digitalization.


You will never be different without changing and you will never change if you don't start.


My 3 proposals revolve around:



This will put you in a good position for future maintenance.



Skills


If your machines are "connected to IoT", services and alarms will be automatically generated (based on your machine usage or calendar time) on a platform where service providers can select and choose tasks.


Why talk about skills, quite simply because if technicians want to become independent, it will obviously be necessary to find a solution to guarantee skills.


An Uber driver must prove that he has a valid driver's license and a car that is less than ten years old.


These types of rules should also apply to the skill level of technicians. And this can be in terms of degrees, OEM certifications and the use of "certified" tools...


Not only to ensure that you receive good service, but also to ensure that the technician is working safely.


And this further justifies the fact that each industry must be approached separately.



Work instructions


It would also be important to ensure that technicians use up-to-date and rich media instructions. The vast majority of OEMs still ship their machines with paper or .pdf manuals.


It is therefore crucial to start standardizing on a platform that centralizes official OEM instructions for operation, maintenance and troubleshooting. This could also be done by a community of experts. I'm pretty sure these instructions need to be filmed.


The mass of work to be produced is enormous, but if the creation of instructions is open to end users of machines and to the self-employed, there remains an opportunity to create service and therefore employment.


Many things can be covered with this topic, online spare parts store connection, troubleshooting ChatBot deployment, image recognition to identify a part...



Original Equipment Manufacturer - OEM


So what are machine manufacturers doing to keep up to date?


It is clear that the major players are already present in the technological race. But they are still very focused on their own products and to date offer very few alternative or standardized solutions in the service approach. To be clear, no factory in the world uses only one brand of machine... How many platforms will we have to deal with?


I therefore assume that equipment manufacturers will gradually standardize the technologies present in their machines in order to facilitate customer consumption. We should also see more machine rental options, including many other services...


Conclusion


It is complicated ! The challenge is daunting, but the answer is YES, we can “uberize” maintenance!


At first, small individual start-ups will take small, highly targeted market shares from companies that want to digitize. The current global financial crisis will force factories to be creative in order to remain competitive. Since maintenance is a cost center, the transformation will result in cost savings.



imwt - in maintenance we trust





I hope this article sheds some light on the subject. Do not hesitate to leave your comments and raise questions. Thank you for your time.


This article is based on suggestions and personal studies aimed at generalising information. Please be respectful in your comments.

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