RMR Measures Safeguard Competitive Advantage
E-commerce companies face fierce competition to retain online customers. At a time where same day deliveries are available, factors such as the price, marketing and returns processing are not the only decisive factors when it comes to retaining customers, delivery capabilities and quality must also be considered. Both of these factors are significantly affected by the availability of the intralogistics system.
Malfunctions of the intralogistics system or individual system components not only reduce the technical availability of a plant, but in the worst case scenario, they also reduce the delivery capabilities and quality of an e-commerce company. To ensure both of these are maintained at a high level, it must be ensured that the plant is updated on a continuous basis. The revision, modification and retrofit (RMR) method developed by Vanderlande ensures that a high level of plant availability can be guaranteed.
High System Availability Is a Decisive Factor
Intralogistics systems with a high level of availability significantly influence the success of e-commerce companies. It is thus not surprising that most companies strive to achieve technical availability of more than 98 percent. The malfunction of system components or even the complete system have a negative effect on delivery capabilities and quality. Each system failure generates more work to resolve the fault and thus increases the costs. In the worst case scenario, customers do not receive their goods on time, which in turn can result in the loss of customers.
The aim is to already achieve a high level of availability during the development of technical facilities and the project planning process. While high-quality and durable components are selected and installed during the development process, the project planning process ensures that the system has a correspondingly redundant design. During operation of the plant, an elaborate maintenance concept and well trained service personnel ensure that the plant is maintained at a high level of availability.
However, even a high-quality and well-maintained plant will reach a point when further measures are required to also guarantee a high level of technical availability in the future.
Durability Problems with Plant Components
Generally, all system components have a certain service life that is determined by their design. Mechanical components have a service life of 25,000 to 30,000 operating hours, while the service life of electric components is defined by the number of switching cycles. System components, such as the control system or hard- and software, are not as likely to be affected by durability problems, although it is more likely that they will be discontinued by the manufacturer. These components are then replaced with a new series of products. Especially plants with long operating hours (24/7) will reach the end of their service life relatively quickly, resulting in an increased number of component failures and unscheduled downtimes of the plant. This is why it is sensible to implement a RMR measure no later than this point in time to ensure the plant is fit for the future.
Principle of the RMR Methodology
The RMR measures implemented by Vanderlande cover three areas:
Revision: A revision encompasses all of the measures that ensure the original capacity of the system is restored. It consists of a standard, general overhaul during which mechanical and electrotechnical components are replaced with new ones (from the same series).
Modification: A modification can include changing the layout, working on the functionality of the control or IT system or improving mechanical system components. Generally, the functionality of the system is adapted.
Retrofit: A retrofit is also designed to maintain the technical availability. In contrast to a revision, parts are not replaced on a like-for-like basis, instead parts that have been discontinued or that are no longer available are replaced with new components. Components used in the drive and control technology sector and the IT system are the main focus during this process.
Despite the overall system ageing, all three of these measures ensure that a high level of plant availability is guaranteed for the years ahead and that the customer is protected from any unpleasant surprises.
Determining Causes of Malfunctions
Comprehensive RMR measures start with a modification. It is not always possible to adapt the layout or necessary to adjust the control system, although improving mechanical system components can always be taken into consideration.
A fault analysis must be completed at the outset to be able to improve specific system components. The supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) process records all of the faults over a longer period of time so that the data can be analyzed. The analysis of the data must differentiate between operational faults caused by the customer’s employees and technical faults. The results of the analysis will help determine which areas of the system cause the most or longest malfunctions. As the data cannot provide enough detail about individual areas, the maintenance team must help to determine which individual system components are causing the malfunctions. Once the cause of the malfunction has been determined, a team of experts including process engineers, maintenance technicians, systems engineers and R&D staff can develop technical improvements for the relevant system components. By using newly developed and reliable parts, future malfunctions can be minimized and the availability can be increased.
The revision and retrofit processes are then implemented following the modification. The basic approach for these processes is the same, as both of these measures involve the replacement of components (see image). The only difference is that components, which have been discontinued by the manufacturer, must be replaced with new parts (retrofit).
Retrofit and Revision Procedures
A ten step plan is implemented as part of the retrofit and revision measures.
Step 01 – Analysis of the facilities: During the first step, the layout and bill of materials (BOM) must be used to determine which technical facilities are installed in the system. This step is necessary to ascertain which facilities require a retrofit or revision.
Step 02 – Lifetime test: The service life of each individual component within a facility must be determined during the second step. This is usually determined from lifetime sheets that contain the information. In addition, it must be determined how long the system or individual system components have already been operated and whether they have already reached the end of their service life. During this process, it is important to consider the different shift systems and go-live times of plant components.
Step 03 – Designation of the parts to be replaced in each facility: This step is used to determine which parts in each of the facilities need to be replaced. Generally, the lifetime sheets already contain recommendations. However, there is also the opportunity to consult experienced field service engineers (FSE). By working with the technology on a daily basis, they can offer a vast amount of experience and know exactly which parts should be replaced as part of the revision or retrofit process. During this step it must also taken into consideration that some parts may have been discontinued and therefore need to be replaced.
Step 04 – Determining the duration of the retrofit/revision measures per part: During the fourth step, it must be determined how long it will take to replace a part within a system component. This is necessary, to determine how much work will be required and to calculate the personnel costs at a later date, if necessary. When making this assessment, it is advisable to rely on the expertise of the maintenance personnel for the relevant site, as they will know how long it takes to replace parts on average.
Step 05 – Identification of the individual prices per part: The individual prices for the parts being replaced must be determined to be able to calculate the overall price that the customer must pay for the retrofit and revision measures at the end of the process. It is important that the current sales prices and prices for new parts, that will replace any discontinued parts, are referenced during this process.
Step 06 – Determining the number of parts to be replaced: The sixth step is used to determine the total number of parts that will be replaced in the entire system. To determine this, the number of facilities is simply multiplied by the number of parts being replaced per facility. If the system, for example, contains 100 roller conveyors and five belts need to be replaced within each roller conveyor, then 500 belts will need to be replaced in the overall system. These calculations are necessary to be able to determine the overall budget.
Step 07 – Determining personnel costs: The personnel costs are calculated during the seventh step. As the fourth step already determined how long it will take to replace individual system components and step 6 determined the total number of parts that need to be replaced, these two figures can be used to calculate the total amount of time required for the work. The personnel costs can ultimately be determined based on the relevant personnel rates, including any surcharges for working nights and weekends.
Step 08 – Determining the total budget: The total budget is calculated from the costs for the parts that are being replaced and the personnel costs. Discounts can already be taken into consideration at this stage.
Step 09 − Specification of priorities (facility, main/secondary line): During the ninth step, it is determined which areas or facilities within the system require the retrofit/revision measures to be implemented first. In this context, it is useful to split the system into main and secondary lines. It is also advisable to include the customer in this process so that you can work together to determine the priorities.
Step 10 − Suggested three year budget: To ensure that the customer does not need to implement all of the measures within one year and does not suddenly have to pay high costs, it is can certainly be advantageous to spread the measures across three years. The basis for this is step 9 during which the priorities are determined. This means that the total costs for the retrofit and revision measures can be spread across three years.
The specific details of the retrofit and revision measures must be determined following this step.
System Maintenance Thanks to Preventative Servicing
Following the implementation of all of the RMR measures, the entire intralogistics system will be back to a standard that will continue to guarantee a high level of plant availability and thus ensure excellent delivery capabilities and quality. The risk of expensive system outages is thus significantly reduced. The loss of customers due to delivery failures is no longer a worry. However, it is still necessary to maintain the system by implementing preventative servicing measures and a sophisticated maintenance concept. RMR measures should also be reconsidered after a certain amount of operating time. Only then can it be guaranteed that the intralogistics system remains reliable.
Only combining preventative servicing measures, a sophisticated maintenance concept and RMR measures will guarantee excellent delivery capabilities and quality in the long term, thus reducing the probability of losing customers and offering a competitive advantage to e-commerce companies.