I wanted to talk about our NRX Asset Visualizer digital parts book solution as a case study in the digital transformation journey.
Parts books have been around a long time. Sometimes called illustrated parts catalogs or visual BOMs they essentially include an exploded parts diagram for a piece of equipment linked by call outs to a parts list. The parts list contains information that is required for ordering parts and maintaining the equipment. Here is a cool example from our Lego™ Demo video that you can find in our resource center.
The great thing about our Lego™ video is that it’s easy for everyone to understand. If you’ve ever lost your Lego™ building instructions you will understand the challenge of finding spare parts!
Imagine trying to identify the correct Lego™ part with no pictures and only a text description of the part – that’s crazy!! But that’s what EAM users try to do every day.
The direct result is wasted planning time and misordered parts. Not to mention extended downtime resulting in lost revenue and increased expenses due to excess inventory, rush orders and restocking fees. Our NRX Asset Visualizer solution delivers a strong ROI, boosting your top and bottom line. CFO’s love the solution. Now that I’m finished my shameless product plug let’s consider the history of parts books. Most asset intensive industries pre-date the digital era. Industries like Rail and the Navy have been maintaining complicated assets long before the modern computer era. And they’ve always had parts books and teams of people creating and maintaining them. All of their processes and organizations were set up in the paper and printing era. Over the years many of these organizations have transitioned to digital content. But the processes and organizations continue to be organized the same way. For example, in one organization the printing folks were retrained to burn CDs with all of the parts books. Then, the distribution people were responsible for sending them out to the maintenance teams in the field. This represents the first step of digitization. But fundamentally the processes and organizational structures remained the same with many of the same limitations. One of the challenges of selling “digital transformation” is its impact on people.
While we were presenting our solution to one potential customer someone asked us what Bob would do if they bought NRX Asset Visualizer. Bob’s job was to burn CDs.
When NRX first entered this market many of our projects involved digitizing massive volumes of paper manuals. A significant cost of the projects related to digitization of content. Sometimes paper documents were shipped offshore for scanning. In many ways the NRX Parts Book solution was ahead of its time. Digital content has become pervasive and tools to create and manipulate it have become widely available and easy to use. Digitization is no longer a concern or a significant cost. In the rail industry they’ve always had Parts Books for rolling stock. Originally the parts books were paper based – and then digitized. Most railways have now digitalized their parts books. This means they are stored online in databases that have advantages that can only occur once the content is digital. They are indexed for searching. It makes it faster to find parts. Exploded parts diagrams can be zoomed and panned. Parts Lists and Exploded parts diagrams can be hyperlinked or as we say hotpointed. But fundamentally the railways are still organized in the same way and have the same processes they did when the parts books were in paper format. Digitalization saves time and makes people more efficient. But it does not fundamentally transform processes and organizations in favor of superior business models. One potential customer wanted mobile parts books accessible to all of their field personnel. We demonstrated our solution that includes functionality designed to make it easy to keep content up to date. They weren’t really interested in that because we were presenting to the part of the organization responsible for distributing content. The ePost of the Post Office so to speak. They survived the fax machine so they probably hope they will survive the era of mobile apps too. We also demonstrated our seamless integration with EAM. Not interested. We have a fully integrated solution that would have involved significant digital transformation. This is too much change for many organizations. As a result we added the capability of creating PDF parts books. Fully hyperlinked, beautifully designed, easily searchable, zoomed and panned they were able to be viewed on any device in any location online or offline. They were immediately popular with many of our customers!
Not everyone is ready to make the digital transformation leap.
In our next blog entry we will discuss the full potential of digital transformation offered by NRX Visualizer and Parts Books.