The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.

January 19, 2018

Maximo Can Do Supply Chain - Unveiled!

When it comes to IBM Maximo, the first impression everyone gets is a Work and Asset Management (WAM) solution. This being true because of the rich WAM features, Industry specific solutions and Add-on solutions offered by IBM Maximo. Primarily because of this reason, IBM Maximo has been featuring in the Gartner's Leaders Quadrant for so many years. As much Maximo has been famous for its WAM capabilities, it was also known for its limited Supply Chain capabilities especially till version 6 and 7.1.

Having both Supply Chain and Work & Asset Management on one package is beneficial for customers. It means lean team for support, no complex integrations for high volume transactions (Issues, Returns) with ERP System, faster implementations, less training and less licensing cost. However due to Maximo's limited Supply Chain capabilities it was often integrated with an ERP system for even basic supply chain features like Inventory Management, Replenishment, Purchasing, Contracting & Invoicing.

Continue reading "Maximo Can Do Supply Chain - Unveiled!" »

December 26, 2017

Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part II


5.     Avoid Vertical Scroll (Rows to Display): Each Resultset comes with an option of configuring "Rows to Display". Multiple factors should be considered while configuring "Rows to Display" for each Resultset since it has a direct impact on Vertical scroll.

a.       Total number of Resultsets for the Start Center; recommended number 3-5 based on the Job responsibilities of the user. If more Resultsets are there, then lesser the number of "Rows to Display" for each Resultset.

b.       Size of the Monitor of the users intended for using this Start Center (typically organizations have standard set of monitors for certain departments if not across complete organization; use this information effectively)

c.       Importance of the Resultsets (In the same Start Center, for some Resultsets you have choose 10 while for some other you can choose 5)

Main objective should be to effectively utilize the screen space; avoiding Vertical Scroll while not leaving any unused white space.

6.       Use Object Structure effectively: One of strongest features of Maximo 7.6 Start Centers is use of the Reporting Object Structures. In simple words, earlier you were able to display columns of only the base table in the Start Centers. However, with 7.6 you can show columns from multiple related tables. This is a great enhancement and can be used effectively to show relevant data from multiple tables together.

7.       Dropping irrelevant records: One of the problems of Resultsets is that the records keep hanging there if the purpose is solved. For example, record is approved or user is informed, however still the records continue to appear in the Resultsets. This leads to clogging and potential risk of missing the relevant information. To deal with it, apply appropriate filter criteria on the basis of status, dates to filter out the irrelevant records and continue to show the relevant information. Again business can provide good insights for this. For example, if you want to show Cancelled Invoices to users so that they are informed about its status. However, since there is no further action on it, they continue to appear there. So applying a filter like showing Cancelled Invoices only for 7 days and then dropping them off will keep the Resultset count under control.

8.       Use Color code effectively: If you want to highlight certain records in a different color like a Critical priority record or a record which missed SLA; then you can choose to highlight them in Red color for immediate attention of user.

9.       Use KPIs for appropriate roles: KPIs should be used when the intent is to monitor the quantity of work rather than the individual work itself. Supervisors, Managers and higher Management are more interested in tracking and monitoring the progress of work. Like Work Orders Progress for the Month or Invoice Ageing Information. Leverage KPIs for this with options like KPI Graph or KPI List View.

KPI are typically on the narrow left side of the Start Center. More number of KPIs may lead to vertical scrolling. Alternative is to provide a COGNOS dashboard.

10.       Performance is key: Users live with Start Centers Day-in and Day-out. If they take more than 3-5 seconds to load, there is a problem in the long run. The problem is aggravated because unless all the Resultsets are completed loaded in the Start Center; launching any application or opening any record won't work. So users are forced to wait till it completely loads. Therefore, avoid long running queries, optimize the queries with right indexes.

You may have certain situation where long running queries are reality and cannot be avoided.

In such case; explain the performance problem to business of the initial load of the Start Centers. And give them alternative that the information is still a click away:

a.       As a Public Query in the application

b.       As a separate Start Center which has this long running Resultset. This is not the default Start Center and users can launch it whenever they need to access it

c.       If the number of Resultsets is becoming more than 6; then also consider a second Start Center for the same Role. Pick more frequently used Resultsets in the first Start Center. You may have to create an additional Security Group just for enabling this Start Center for the Role.

d.       In case users' security profiles enables multiple Start Center tabs for them, it is best to provide rights to users to choose the Default Start Center they want to launch. It is a great feature and helps saving performance by loading the most relevant Start Center in first attempt.

11.       Bulletin Board is great for communication: Bulletin Board is optional however having Bulletin Board at the top of the Start Center is a good idea. It takes less space if nothing is there. It is a great way to communicate common messages like scheduled outages, training issue related messages, critical production issues, etc. The messages come with an expiry date so they automatically fall out after the expiry date. You may choose to post messages to all the users or a specific group of users giving the right control.

12.       Inbox Assignments needs extension: Inbox assignments are great, however they don't provide all the necessary information because Inbox is common for all the objects whether it is Work Order, Asset, DR, PO, Invoice or Service Requests. Secondly, if number of assignments in the Start Center is high, then it is not easy to quickly search through them.

To make the Inbox assignments more relevant for users, augment them with a Resultset. For example, if field users have multiple Work Orders assigned to them in the Inbox then add an associated Resultset for the Work Orders. It will give the leverage to add relevant columns for the users providing them more information which is not directly available from Inbox.

It is not advisable though to do this for all the Objects of the Inbox Assignments. Make the choice wisely based on the primary responsibility of the users.

 

Designing the Start Centers with above guidelines will ensure that Business is having all the critical and relevant information available to them; and will drive Business Performance.

Continue reading "Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part II" »

Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part I

It is Christmas time, and everyone is busy preparing cupcakes at home and enjoying time with their families. The snow storm outside turned out to be much more intense than it was predicted. With heavy snow, trees started falling down. Some of trees fall on the electrical distribution lines. Now a complete blackout in the area. You are a Maintenance Manager, so you start getting multiples calls. You create emergency work orders to attend the problem and assign them to your crew.

Your crew is disbursed in the field at multiple sub-stations. They use Maximo Start Center to monitor and prioritize their work queue. Due to design gap in the Start Center, these emergency work orders appear last in the priority and gets missed by the crew. Scary right?

Start Center in Maximo (also can be referred as Dashboard or Landing Page) is a very powerful tool. In one place, it provides information about critical tasks, alerts and actions to business users as per their roles and job responsibilities.

However, at the same time, once the Start Center starts showing too much information or irrelevant information, it tends to lose its importance. Often this is the starting point when the users start ignoring the information present there. So it is important to carefully design Start Center so that it displays meaning information which assist users in smoothly running business.

Before starting the requirements discussion for Start Center, it is a good idea to provide a walkthrough to them of the Out of the Box Start Center or a sample explaining the benefits of various Start Center features. If business has Maximo background, it will make the job easier. However still remember that Business may not provide all the information upfront because even they haven't thought through these. They will answer the questions which are asked; so guiding them through the design with the right set of questions will lead to a comprehensive design.

Given below are some guidelines for designing Start Centers which will assist Business Users in driving their Performance:

1.       Identify Roles: Study different Business Roles who will use system and understand their top 3 responsibilities. Their top 3 responsibilities will provide good insights into what the users would be interested in to see in their Start Center. This information directly drives the Resultsets, KPIs, identify Favorite Applications, identify Quick Insert Applications and Report Lists.

Of all these, Resultsets are the most important from business perspective and most frequently used. Name the Resultsets which are intuitive to business.

2.       Apply the right filters: The beauty of the notifications is lost if they are too many. Imagine dealing with 20 records vs 200 records. So discuss with Business, think through diligently and work out appropriate filter criteria which should be applied to show the records. Right set of filters will ensure that the Resultsets are relevant and usability is high

3.       Default Sorting is important: When user login to Maximo, the Start Center is loaded with all the Resultsets. In the Resultsets, most relevant records should appear at the top by default; so that users don't have to sort or search the records again. Therefore, default sorting for Resultsets is important. Most frequently used criteria for sorting is date; typically, with 2 options: Newest record at the top or Oldest record at the top. A good understanding of business is needed to carefully make this choice. If a huge backlog of work is expected for valid business reasons; then going by the oldest record at the top will almost always lead to the newest records getting least attention. On the other hand, having newest record at the top risks the chances of missing the SLAs.

Secondly, try to keep date criteria as the 2nd or 3rd sorting criteria after identifying other critical parameters which business will be more interested to see and address first. It could be based on Priority, $ amount, or Type. Business can provide good insights into it.

4.       Avoid Horizontal Scroll: Select appropriate columns which are most important to business. Keep it to a minimum number of relevant columns to avoid horizontal scrolls. Having 5-8 columns is appropriate based on the screen space available. Label the columns appropriately which makes sense to Business.

......continue on Part II

Continue reading "Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part I" »

September 30, 2017

Achieving Compliance To Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP)

Back in 2011 when U. S FDA's FSMA act (Food Safety Modernization Act) was signed into a law, it was a termed as a sweeping reform in the food safety laws as the focus totally shifted from 'Reaction' to 'Prevention'. There were seven rules under this act. One of them was titled FSVP - Foreign Supplier Verification Programs. It was touted as a very bold rule aiming to do a number of things which were never attempted before with respect to the food safety norms in the US.  As expected these norms resulted in a slew of initiatives from food retailers across USA to get compliant with the rules.

Continue reading "Achieving Compliance To Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP)" »

September 6, 2017

Intelligent Maintenance - a journey towards eliminating breakdown

"No Breakdowns" - this has been and should be an ambitious goal of every maintenance business operation of an organization. Since the start of Industrial revolution, the approach towards the maintenance of any asset has evolved from breakdown to corrective to preventive to predictive. This evolution has proven the ultra-goal of every organization effort to 'to reduce asset down time due to breakdown and to improve uptime'. However due to operational challenges, there has been always a significant percentage of breakdown encountered by the assets and it is the ground reality widely accepted. There were many articles written on achieving 'No breakdowns' by implementing emerging concepts of Preventive and Predictive maintenance, however there were gaps. Some of the reasons for such gaps are - 


 • Lack of insights in the health of assets and their spare parts
 • Responding to monitoring alerts based on conditional deviations
 • Rigid maintenance programs without consideration to varying operational conditions
 • Missing link of redesign of assets by OEMs based on the feedback on operational parameters.
 • Difference in ownership on asset performance between Operation and Maintenance

As we move into an era of digitization - Fourth industrial revolution, we could see that assets are becoming more and more intelligent. It is eminent that there is a transformation happening where our maintenance is becoming more intelligent to bridge the gap on reaching our ultimate goal of eliminating breakdown completely. Here let us see some insights on Intelligent assets and salient points of intelligent maintenance.

Continue reading "Intelligent Maintenance - a journey towards eliminating breakdown" »

May 26, 2017

Integrated Vehicle Diagnostics Solution in Automotive Aftermarket

Authors:

Ravindra Hunagund, Lead Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd., ravindra_hunagund@infosys.com

Swapnil Vijay Akolkar, Lead Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd., swapnil_akolkar@infosys.com

Saurabh Sharma, Senior Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd., saurabh.sharma@infosys.com

Snigdha Goyal, Consultant, MFGDCG, Infosys Ltd., snigdha.goyal@infosys.com


Independent workshops have traditionally struggled to keep pace with OEMs and authorized workshops on vehicle diagnostics, tools & technology, vehicle electronic information and quality of service / parts. With EU commission systematically introducing regulatory amendments, such as the EU regulation 566/2011 which mandates the manufacturers to release and share the vehicle related electronic data for identification of exact service parts for the vehicles, a level playing field is being created where the independent workshops and authorized workshops would have to battle out to get the aftermarket share by serving varying needs of the customer. This blog brings out an integrated automotive diagnostics solution that will assist independent workshops in being competitive against the authorized repairers in this ever changing scenario.


MARKET ANALYSIS

Globally, the aftermarket is emerging as a new lucrative area for OEM's revenue as 15% of OEM revenue comes from aftermarket business, which represents 70% of OEM profit. The automotive aftermarket is mainly divided into two broad categories: authorized repair shops (dealerships) and independent workshops. The authorized repair shops are part of the dealer network providing servicing solutions, warranty programs and consuming original parts whereas independent workshops are less expensive alternative to authorized repair shops. OEMs have lost 3% of their global market share in 2015[1]. This has been possible due to the following factors:

1. Release of electronic data of repairs: According to this EU regulation 566/2011, the manufacturers in Europe automobile industry are obliged to release and share the electronic data so that an accurate identification of service parts can be done for the vehicles. The independent workshops would now have unrestricted access to the electronic repair and diagnostics data as is the case with the authorized repair shops. The ultimate goal of this regulation is to provide enough choices to the customer and encourage competition at all levels of the automotive aftermarket value chain.

2. Availability of diagnostics tools: Next generation diagnostic tools have enabled the independent workshops to service and maintain vehicles from various different brands with the same level of service quality as that of an authorized repair shop. The technicians are able to point out the exact problem in the vehicle and save time and cost for both the workshop and the end customer.

3. Collaboration with other service providers: Non-traditional players in the automotive aftermarket such as fleet operators, insurers and leasing firms are signing agreements with independent workshops, to lower their costs and channel the customers to only the contractually agreed upon independent service providers.


Segments_2.png
The market for diagnostics scan tools can be segmented as given in the figure with software based repair tools showing the most promising growth rate of 7.5% by value. The market and future for diagnostics tools looks very promising as the growth rate of the automotive diagnostic end-to-end scan tools market is projected to grow globally at a promising CAGR of 5.6% from 2015 to 2020, growing from US$3.83 Billion in 2015 to US$5.02 Billion by 2020.


Current Challenges

Challenge#1 - Lack of E2E Diagnostics: Due to absence of any single integrated aftermarket solution for fault diagnostics to parts ordering, difficult problems lead to reduction of the workshop profits and which in turn leads to backlogs which can potentially damage the overall customer satisfaction. It has been estimated that these problem cars have the potential of costing workshops $24,750 of lost business in a year

Challenge#2 - Increasing Vehicle Complexity: It is estimated that a modern vehicle has the computing power equivalent to the system which had guided the Apollo astronauts all the way to the moon. 72% of workshop owners feel that keeping up to date about the latest vehicle technologies and electronic systems is challenging

Challenge#3 - Local Fault codes to OEM codes mapping: OEM's fault codes to independent diagnostic fault codes mapping is inconsistent. If these advanced workshops are to compete with the main dealers, they would require a combination of the following three things: Getting OEM-trained skills, technology and all the vehicle information

Challenge#4 - Lack of clarity in ordering parts for given faults: Due to high level of inconsistency between the fault diagnosis and the parts required for rectification, incorrect mapping of OEM parts numbers to independent retailers there is a higher rate of parts return/re-ordering


Point of View Solution

The challenges faced by the independent workshops can be tackled by using cloud based end to end diagnostics solutions that provide a common platform for scanning a vehicle, detecting faults, ordering parts, publishing reports and generating invoices for the customer. To tackle all the challenges discussed in the previous section, Infosys based on a client engagement and market study proposes a cloud based diagnostics solution as below:


Segments_3.png

1. Workshops can service vehicles across multiple vehicle brands without having to train the technicians especially for any make or model. Having a single guided workflow application from fault detection, correction, technical data, parts ordering till invoicing can save cost and effort for the workshop and the customer

2. Tool can be accessed over laptop/ tabs/ smart phones and can be connected to any vehicle via a VCI (Vehicle Communication Interface)

3. The workshops should be required to just purchase VCIs and license for the tool and pay based on the subscription taken.

4. The tool can pull together data from multiple databases for getting repair, maintenance, diagnostics, faults-parts mapping, parts and other such information on a single platform, saving both time and cost for the workshop and the customer

5. A comprehensive diagnostics with intelligent fault-tracing can list down all the faults detected on the vehicle within minutes of starting the scan giving the technician a strong starting point towards servicing and repair of the vehicle

6. The tool can be linked with distributor's part catalog for parts selection and ordering

7. The customer can look at the readings from vital measures of the vehicle and get a printed report of the complete diagnostics

8. The tool can monitor the Telematics data transmitted from the vehicle and post maintenance alerts to the customer

9. The tool can also send scheduled maintenance alerts to its registered customers to increase customer satisfaction levels and have longer customer retention period


Conclusion

With favoring regulatory changes towards release of proprietary repair data, advancement of technology in diagnostics tools and reduced TCO owing to cloud based IT solutions, independent repair shops market is perfectly poised for benefiting from integrated solution covering diagnostics, fault tracing, symptom analysis , parts recommendation, integration with parts distributor's ERP and provide billing options. While a few solutions exist in the market currently, there is a definite chance to focus on extending the capabilities (Pass Through, predictive maintenance etc.) and providing end to end solution targeting repair shops giving them a competitive edge against authorized dealers.


References

http://www.adlittle.com/downloads/tx_adlreports/AMG_Automotive_after_sales_2015_01.pdf

http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/automotive-diagnostic-scan-tools-market-1299.html

https://www.bcg.com/documents/file111373.pdf

April 19, 2017

APM - It's time for Performance Appraisal for Assets

Performance Appraisal? ...for Assets? Does it sound different? Yes, this is the closest analogy I could relate to Asset Performance Management (APM) / Asset Health monitoring, which is much talked about now a days. Employees are valuable assets of an organization. So are the production assets such as Equipment and Machinery which are also playing vital role in the well-being of an Industry. APM is the concept focusing on the performance of individual assets (Equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles, etc.) on their real time performance, downtime, and their efficiency and maintenance parameters. Some of the examples of APM tools are from GE, Schneider Electric etc. Though APM is not so new, it started getting traction in recent days due to fast pace technological advancements such as Big Data, Internet of Things, Machine learning, Smart Systems and Cloud computing. In this blog we will surf through the concept of APM, its latest trends and benefits.

Continue reading "APM - It's time for Performance Appraisal for Assets" »

January 18, 2017

Flying on Cloud with EAM

Cloud computing is impacting us in various forms and means in our day to day life in recent times. We may miss to realize the fact that the Social Media application such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube we use day in and out are utilizing the Cloud computing technology to manage the vast user community across the globe. Cloud computing paved the way to provide the stake of Infrastructure (IaaS), Platform (PaaS) and Software (SaaS) as hosted services, which are being capitalized by Business giants who use Internet as the working ground. We are seeing lot of developments happening on this technology where eventually we may enjoy 'Everything-as-a-Service' in near future.

This disruptive technology has invaded all facets of our life, not leaving the asset management business function alone. In this blog, I wanted to take you through a virtual tour on EAM on cloud.

Continue reading "Flying on Cloud with EAM" »

July 12, 2016

Be ready for the drone invasion @ warehouse!

We have seen a burst of new technologies in supply chain area. Drones, advance of robots in workplaces, Internet of things (IoT) are becoming a reality. Time is ripe to induce more technology into core operations of supply chain like warehouse operations, yard operations and so on. Here I would like to discuss on how to capitalize advances made in drone technology can add value in warehouse operations. Drones are also personal interest of mine as we had experimented with a small drone in our home few years back.

Traditional warehouse managers have always been looking for ways to improve productivity of the operations and people in warehouse. Drones can significantly improve warehouse operations in the area of inventory management, yard management and safety of the warehouse. Drones can be put into use in
1. Annual stocking: In a warehouse the storage locations and pallets are bar coded. Drone which has a scanner can scan the location to confirm its position then scan the pallet label to confirm the item and quantity. Frequency is yearly and involves the entire warehouse.
2. Cycle counting: Its similar to annual stocking as the operation involves going to location and confirming the item and quantity. Cycle counting involves fewer locations in a warehouse and the frequency is few times a day.
3. Track Trailers in Yard: In large yards its time consuming to identify trailers, drones can be of big help here. They can sent out for "search operations" in a yard and using the camera in the drone operators can hunt for trailers.

Pros for using Drones:
• Increase productivity in physical counting and cycle counting. Productivity can be improved by a factor of 2X or 3X.
• Overcome safety challenges, as taking physical counting in high rack locations involves using both forklifts and humans which increase chances of accidents.
• Drones can perform the work faster and also be more accurate.
• Drones can also be used for searching and finding inventory.
• Drone can also be used for searching trailers / trucks vehicles in large yards of the warehouse.

What type of warehouse can be early adapters for Drones?
Retail, Third party logistics warehouses are ideal for Drones usage. These warehouse are typically large sites, with high rack locations which are bar coded. The warehouse layout is like typical street block with aisles and locations marked.

4 Steps to put Drones in Action:
In order for the warehouse to take advantage of drones following things are necessary
1. For Drones to move independently within the 4 walls of warehouse, the key requirement is to have physical warehouse map with details of all the aisles, rack locations and other details.
For this the crucial input is to have warehouse map which has the co-ordinates of each location. A geodesic survey of the inbound and outbound areas of the warehouse needs to be done. Warehouse map is created with x, y, z co-ordinates of all the locations. Site survey can be accomplished by civil surveyors by working in non-peak or non-work days in 6 to 8 working days. Warehouse physical map is fed into drone software. Drone can navigate using the warehouse co-ordinates. In my previous project implementing Locanis WMS we had enabled Forklift guidance system in a large warehouse.
For Indoor referencing  to increase the positional accuracy of the drones we can use beacons. The way I envisage this is we place beacons in aisles and pathways of warehouses. So whenever drones pass these beacons it will publish the exact positional co-ordinates which can be then be used for navigation.
2. Drone needs to be equipped with a scanner which can scan various bar codes stickers of different bar code standards like EAN, UCC.
3. Once the drone scans the data it needs to communicate to the WMS system or a custom software which can capture the location and inventory.
4. Drones need to communicate using a different frequency, as warehouse have other equipment's like forklift terminals, Hand held terminals, RFID devices using Wi-Fi.

Challenges for Drone usage:
• Drones can be used for inventory management functions in Full pallet areas. Using them in Carousels, multi deep pallet locations, Pigeons holes are going to be challenge.
• Warehouses which do primarily Cross docking, Break pack are also not suitable for drone operations. As the inventory is fast moving and mostly in ground locations.
• In order for drones to work in warehouse operations we need to have robust "anti-avoidance" technology. This is an important factor when drones and humans have to work in the same environment.

4 steps for inducting drones  as discussed above can form the basis of inducting drones into warehouse operations. In the near future we would be seeing more drones in warehouse working along with humans. Pretty soon I think we will see "Drone operator" as one of the job titles in warehouses across the world. Welcome to the world of warehouse drones!

Continue reading "Be ready for the drone invasion @ warehouse!" »

June 23, 2016

Supplier Diversity Reporting in Utility Industry

An year of perseverance, hard work, intense discussions and night outs has come to an end and the results, I would say, have been impressive. In fact, the go-live for this transformational ERP program was the smoothest one I have witnessed in my 10 year long career. The client was from utility industry located in Las Vegas & had a customer base of approximately 2 million including residential, commercial and industrial customers .They provided natural gas service to parts of Arizona, Nevada, and California. The program was to modernize the financial and supply chain systems along with providing a robust reporting solution which would not only meet their reporting needs but also cater to the various regulatory reporting requirements of the utility industry. I was very closely involved in various aspects of developing a reporting solution for the client and the area of reporting which caught my attention was 'Diversity Reporting'. In this blog I will try to explain what Supplier Diversity Reporting is all about and how we addressed these reporting needs for our client.

Continue reading "Supplier Diversity Reporting in Utility Industry" »

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