Supply chain information can too often be seen for what it is on the surface: arguably the world’s most complex network of systems, data and analytics processes, but it’s so much more than that.
Rarely do we hear or read the stories of the individuals behind the scenes focused on MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations), who provide the energy, intelligence, and insights to keep challenges at bay and keep their companies up and running and the supply chain moving.
These people exhibit certain qualities. They are ready to look for out-of-the-box solutions to avoid disruptions and aren’t afraid to take the necessary evolutionary steps to move their company and our economy forward with their professionalism.
As an industry, we can celebrate the wins these people attain for their companies, but what does it take to become an MRO hero?
Preventing Downtime Risk
A regional reliability manager in a F500 packaging facility faced a recent challenge when two critical assets failed, resulting in a halt in production (approx. $40K/hr loss). The manager couldn’t locate the essential replacement part needed to restore operations as each site used a variation of a part name for the same item (a frequently seen issue).
Team members tried to locate the part in their ERP but came up empty-handed because the search in ERP and EAM systems depends on clean data. The manager needed help to see which sister facilities had parts that might be shared between plants. Making matters worse, the supplier confirmed the lead time had changed from what they had in the system (News Flash: Lead times are dynamic!) and they couldn’t send the new part for four weeks. If this were to happen, the manager’s team would largely take the blame for missed SLAs and revenue losses.
The company has been working with a purpose-built MRO solution to help reduce its wasted spend and avoid duplicate purchases. During this work, the manager noticed that his team wasn’t using an AI-powered fuzzy search capability that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), allowing him to identify potential duplicates to find needed parts quickly and the specific location at any plant. This was an ‘a-ha’ moment for the manager, who quickly saw the opportunity to find the needed part.
The manager looked up a part description to see if it existed in the network and found the part at four other sister locations within its network. This was a fantastic discovery. He called the plant directly and had the part overnighted. The production line was restored in 3 days, rather than the one-month timeframe they would have faced without the solution’s material search features.
Using the insights from the search capability, the team became heroes, solving the outage quickly. They now can save 90% of their time spent making phone calls and sending emails to optimize spare parts. The regional manager is now operationally aware of how to beat an unplanned outage. Better yet, trust has been built, risk of downtime has been reduced and SLA and OTIF levels have dramatically increased, creating higher customer satisfaction and loyalty levels.
Optimizing Supply Networks
Another example of a hero who used the latest AI technologies is a supply chain professional responsible for inventory optimization. This manager works for a major beverage firm and has responsibility for all North American MRO materials being available for the company that lives across multiple ERP instances.
However, in her work, the manager found that the company had much more inventory in some facilities and needed more in others. However, the enterprise required a suitable way to gauge and share inventory levels.
The inventory manager group had run scenarios for facilities using similar assets in the enterprise, including breweries, canning, and bottling facilities. Grouping these facilities gave the manager an in-depth opportunity to integrate a materials strategy in which lightly used materials could be right-sized in a virtual hub and spoke model instead of stocked at each facility.
The firm identified $2 million of verified inventory reduction opportunities by grouping the various facilities using our company’s Trusted Network capabilities. At the same time, the team has become more efficient while reducing risk, saving time and optimizing inventory in real-time with just a few clicks.
By being proactive and implementing purpose-built intelligent solutions to more traditional supply chain issues, our hero was able to elevate her company’s efficiency and build trust across her functional and management teams.
Aligning Procurement and Ops for MRO Optimization
Our third hero wanted to find new ways to reduce risk by identifying obsolete/duplicate materials, reducing vendors and/or tail spending, optimizing inventory, and generating cost savings. To do this for the flooring manufacturing company, our manager attempted an inventory optimization project that required analyzing data manually from spreadsheets. Because the data from their ERP was not kept current, the company’s maintenance crew counterparts did not trust the old data, so the project stalled before it was even started.
Using our company’s AI and machine learning capabilities, the manager could access near real-time data to accelerate MRO inventory and spend optimization across North America. Now, the teams involved in the project have trust in the verified demand and the procurement team’s MRO inventory, spend and risk optimization recommendations.
This automated system is now paying dividends across the board for the manufacturer. The system facilitates cross-department human collaboration, with a 2X ROI to the P&L for inventory optimization to influence procurement savings with trust inhuman capital’s operational efficiency.
Many such MRO (unsung) heroes are working hard across many companies, eager to solve their unique problems, and they need encouragement to come forward with ideas and enthusiasm. These heroes hold the knowledge that those in the C-suite might not immediately see as they have their actual fingers on the pulse of their companies.
This is why speaking to your team managers about daily challenges is critical. Learn the thoughts they might have to increase operational efficiency. With some corporate encouragement and the power of purpose-built AI these heroes can unlock the keys to improving your supply chain systems, processes and people’s operational and capital efficiency by 10X in the months and years ahead.
Founder & CEO of Verusen