Quicker Parts Manual Creation

Our support for Parts Catalogue creation has conclusively shown how USE* services can focusing on a downstream deliverable can both improve quality and reduce cost, while at the same time drive improvements into associated upstream processes that deliver improvements in vehicle design and reduced warranty costs.

Rob Anstruther, Operations Manager
USE* authors often work close to our clients' processes without the ability to change or improve them. In general this means that we have identified efficiencies and improvements before we inherit a new portfolio of work. Recently, USE* earned the opportunity to revise one of our client's processes for parts catalogue creation; an opportunity that was soon fully embraced by our team.

The Challenge

Working with a prestigious household name OEM brand our work with Parts Catalogues (Parts Manuals) helped our customer identify some key process problems, each of which acted as a causitive factor for the others.

Parts Catalogues authors were labouring under a very high, and largely reactive, workload. As a result, liaison between the downstream Parts Catalogue authoring community and the upstream Product Development (‘PD’) teams was poor. In turn this meant that the Parts Catalogue team could leverage little or no influence on service strategy and level of service (the ‘Service Bill of Materials’, or SBoM), and that, in general, data supplied by PD came very late in the design lifecycle, creating pressure for the authoring team to provide their deliverables on time—in essence, creating the reactive workload that composed a causative factor in this cycle of problems. The pressure to work reactively was further compounded by ‘running changes’ on current products and because, where the design intent was discovered to be irrevocably dissonant with the preferred service strategy, costs and delays relating to the re-release of parts close to the volume production deadline would also be incurred.

The Solution

Initially additional short-term resource was added to the team to address the backlog of work and to manage the general stress incurred as a result of a constantly reactive mode of working.

With this pressure addressed, our Parts Catalogue Authors could then work in conjunction with USE* Engineers co-located with PD to advise on service strategy. This meant that a directive SBoM could be established earlier in the design process, allowing for earlier commencement on Parts Catalogue creation. This meant in turn that ‘problem areas’ in Parts Catalogues on forthcoming products could be identified well in advance, and resources and workload could be managed appropriately to step away from reactive patterns of working.

Work content from running changes was also quantified and metricated, so that adequate resource could be planned to support this work without jeopardising deliverables for new products.

Our Achievements

The first step in our contribution was our assistance in identifying where the challenges sat in the first place. We also succeeded in eliminating the work backlog and quantifying and managing the reactive workload two months ahead of our predicted schedule for this work. Eliminating backlogs and reactive working in turn allowed USE* to focus on better communication with PD (a critical enabler for moving large elements of the Parts Catalogue authoring task further upstream in the design lifecycle) and then leveraging our customer’s CADPDM capabilities to improve deliverable quality while reducing requisite preparation time.

Better communication and liaison with PD reduced costs incurred from late changes and re-release or rework costs due to late service strategy definition. It also directly contributed to a general improvement in service strategy delineation, reducing our customer’s warranty costs and improving dealer profitability. The Parts Catalogue team gained a routine and popular profile in PD, which further assisted our customer because it enabled critical Service input into new Product BoM and SBoM processes that related to the implementation of new CADPDM technology: this input in turn added to achievements with regard to earlier Parts Catalogue creation and reduced late changes.

The improved Parts Catalogue/ Parts Manual deliverable quality also favourably influenced our customer’s dealers’ perception of the Service department. It reduced OEM costs and improved dealer profits by acting as an enabler towards parts ordering and delivery processes better positioned to provide ‘right first time’ results.

Finally, bringing a ‘runaway’ workload of late and reactive work tasks under control improved morale in the authoring team, and increased productivity and staff retention.

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