Why do failures always happen at 2 AM?
Great question! And I wish I could answer it because I do understand the challenges that happen when a production line has a failure in the middle of the night. I’ve lived it.
Having a support solution in place is a tremendous asset. But even when you’ve selected the right services, issues can still arise.
One night, I was sound asleep when the phone rang. On the other end was a panicked customer speaking very quickly. I could barely understand him at first, but he was happy to repeat himself because I was the only person he’d been able to reach. His line was down and had been for almost an hour.
I asked him if he had called TechConnect, his support 24/7 phone support system, to which he answered “Who?”. I conferenced in TechConnect. They narrowed it down to a drive failure, and the TechConnect engineer suggested replacing it with a spare. The customer said he would go look for one, and we hung up.
Just having a solution in place isn’t enough, it’s critical that workers are aware of it and know how and when to use it. The following day I went in to see the person’s manager, and we decided that it would be important to teach everyone on all shifts how to use their support solution. We set up meetings with all shifts and started to get everyone aware of the contract and how to use it.
Now, all of this company’s workers know they can call and ask about things like failure codes, which can lead to some pretty quick, simple resolutions, allowing everyone else to sleep through the night. And, as an added bonus, asking questions and getting expert answers raises the staff’s knowledge level.
Identify Opportunities for Improvement
Three months after this customer raised awareness and got employees using their support solutions, I got a call from Tom, the Maintenance Manager, (luckily, it wasn’t at 2 AM). He wasn’t happy with having to make multiple calls to get a simple part or a resource to come onsite and assist.
Going back to that middle-of-the-night call, the call to TechConnect wasn’t the end for the caller (or for me). As it turned out, he didn’t have the part needed. And 15 minutes later he called me back, at which point I conferenced in the Rockwell Automation® 24/7 repair hub. In the end, a drive was sent to the customer on the next flight.
“Why is this Horizon Solutions / Rockwell Automation relationship so complex?” He asked. From my vantage point, I hadn’t realized it could be interpreted that way. And then he broke down all that went into getting a part after a TechConnect call on their end (calling us for a part or an exchange, getting a quote, getting it approved, and cutting an additional purchase order—all with multiple levels of approval). ”There has to be a simpler way,” Tom said in conclusion. I was inclined to agree.
We put our heads together to find ways to make getting parts faster and simpler in these situations. In a nutshell, here is what we came up with.
The customer would call one dedicated phone number to Rockwell Automation. The answering support engineer would assist in troubleshooting the issue, and, if it was determined to be a part failure, they would send the customer the part needed. When the customer opened the box, they would then complete and return the paperwork inside to return the failed part in the same box.
Simple, right? Yes, but Tom was concerned about future complications for his maintenance budget. Essentially, his concern was that he’d lose visibility into the cost of these failures and repairs, only seeing the impact as peaks and valleys after the fact. I explained how a similar customer decided to have a site warranty on their facility, so they would never see any billings for repairs.
That’s when a light went off for both of us. “Let’s add that as well and solve all the concerns!” he exclaimed.
Run the Numbers
Tom and I went back and forth and developed a customized contract that would accomplish everything we discussed, and we came up with an idea of a monthly cost for the next five years. He did some work and came back with their cost of downtime and the potential impact if he didn’t have a solution. He set up a meeting for us to present jointly to the Plant Manager and the Production Manager.
It took some convincing, but Tom’s work regarding the potential downtime was really the deciding factor. It’s been almost three years now, and every quarter we review the activity on the contract, and we train new employees on how to utilize it.
We Can Help You Sleep Soundly
The moral of this story you ask? When we understand the issues and discuss possible solutions, we can work together to customize a support solution to meet your needs (ensuring you’ll sleep through the night). Contact us today!
Do you get those 2 AM calls? Let us know in the comments.