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Library Functionality for a Service Unit

Building on my previous thought of library functionality this blog explores its usage for a service department in a manufacturing organization.

Consider a scenario - there is a service and maintenance department in a manufacturing organization. The department takes care of all the servicing and maintenance activities of the production machines (work centers).

The primary business objects in the operations of this unit are:

  1. Human resources - these are service engineers with various skills. These are people who are required to do the job
  2. Tools (portable) ranging from low cost spanners, screw drivers to high cost sensors and meters. These are items which are not consumed but are required for the service activity to be completed. Typically the high cost items are limited in number and need to be tracked.
  3. Replaceable items like low cost screws, oil to high cost replacement spares. These are the items which are consumed in the process.
  4. Machine to be serviced - these are the work-centers which need to be serviced. They can have preventive maintenance schedule or can be serviced for breakdowns.
  5. Service orders (or work orders) - these are transactions against which work is completed. This transaction requires culmination of human resources, tools and service items to complete the order.

In Dynamics AX (or even NAV), we have business objects which map to each of these except tools. 

  1. Human resources are mapped to employees or even as work-centers.
  2. Replaceable service items are inventory items which are expensed out.
  3. Machines to be serviced are work-centers or assets.
  4. Service order is available functionality.

Tools are entities, I feel, lack intuitive mapping. Given the characteristics of tools, they can be mapped to resources within the library.

Let's look at features that are needed around the library to make it suitable for usage in the service and maintenance scenario. We will also note what can be standard features of library and what scenario specific features are:

  1. Booking of tools: Functionality to book tools for any specific time slots either on service orders or by employees. This feature of booking library resources by any entities (masters or transactions) could be a standard feature of library.
  2. Check out and check in of tools: Functionality to check-out and check-in tools against service orders or employees. This could be a standard feature of library.
  3. Tools availability view:  Since the same tool will be given out against various service orders, we can track the expected time of availability of the tool. This can help to commit the time and book the tool for service orders and give more predictability on service order SLA adherence. This could be a standard feature of library.
  4. Linking of library items to combination of service order types and machine (tools to work-service order type and center): The setup of linking service orders, work centers and tools can help in automating the allocation of tools for service orders, which can be leveraged in automatic scheduling of orders. This feature is specific to the scenario.
  5. Linking financials related to tools:
    • Rental rates - can be setup at the tool level
    • Usage cost - can be calculated on the service orders considering how much time the tool was used. These can also give expected (before service order execution) and actual costs (after execution of service orders).
    At feature level, linking of financials for costing can be made standard feature.
  6. Reports on usage of tools:
    • Utilization of tools - count and total time
    • Tool usage and availability
    • Service order cost variance of expected and actual values
    • Tool-work center usage - how frequently a tool is required to be used with specific work centers
    First three bullets can be standard reports of library feature, while fourth is a specific feature for the scenario.

Thus, by having an explicit library model, it gives a more intuitive mapping of tools for a service and maintenance department of an organization. This would help a large number of clients in manufacturing, transportation and of such nature where machine maintenance is one of the core activities.

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