According to a 2017 report from Aberdeen Research, 30 percent of failed service is due to parts unavailability. That fact is one of the reasons that we are changing the face of field inventory management. Nothing frustrates the customer and field technicians alike as the inability to complete the service because a spare part is missing.

Another fact: There are two primary expenses when it comes to service and after labor, and the most significant expense is parts. To make sure they have the part needed to get the job done, technicians tend to over-provision and tie up way too much operating capital in their parts inventory. On top of that, parts can quickly become obsolete, forcing often very costly write-offs.

So, what is the answer?

Manage Better, Save Money

The answer is better parts inventory management, not just at the procurement level but also all the way through the field, down to every truck and forward stocking location.

Parts inventory management starts on the planning level where the work planners are checking parts out of the warehouse and these transactions are logged against the ERP inventory management records. The planners then assign the parts to various technicians who load them on their trucks and every work order using up a part subtracts it from the field inventory. That way, the planners have visibility into what parts are available on which truck or stocking location and where those trucks are.

Parts Management For The Technicians

 With our latest ServiceMax Winter ‘18 release announced today, there is a new level added to the parts inventory management. Technicians now have not only the visibility into where the parts are located, but they can also keep track of any parts transactions on their mobile device.

Imagine this: A technician, let’s call her Katharina, needs a rare part and she doesn’t have it in her truck. Katharina looks at the app on her mobile device and can see that it’s on a colleague’s truck 10 miles away so she pings the technician, let’s call him Bob, about the necessary part. Bob and Katharina then coordinate a meeting so she can get it without having to drive back to the warehouse. During that process, the part is subtracted from Bob’s inventory and added to Katharina’s — all within their service delivery app. This way, Katharina can get the job done and the system keeps track of the part swap from one location to another to keep accurate inventory records and help keep parts costs down.

Here is another use case. Imagine there is an emergency work order for a piece of life-saving medical equipment at a hospital. The service engineer, Mike, has the right skills and is dispatched from his home. But Mike doesn’t have the right part to fix the equipment and the time is critical. With the new functionality made available in Winter ’18, Mike can contact another technician who actually has the necessary part and can meet him directly at the hospital. The app allows them to add and subtract the part from the correct inventory, and the work order is completed quickly.

Better inventory management like this empowers technicians to make decisions which can help increase First Time Fix Rates and keep more accurate inventory. But keeping track of parts as they move in the field can be pretty daunting. With the new capability, our customers gain greater transparency and ability to improve efficiency and their own customers’ satisfaction.

ServiceMax is the only product that provides complete visibility into the parts field inventory including tracking and exchanging of parts in the field. Learn more:

ABOUT Lubor Ptacek

Avatar photoLubor Ptacek is a former SVP of product & solution marketing at ServiceMax, the leader in Service Execution Management.