Aston University’s Professor Tim Baines reflects on how the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that he has had to re-evaluate his predictions from 2019 as industries rapidly pivot and shift their priorities and why servitization has a...
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Aston University’s Professor Tim Baines reflects on how the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that he has had to re-evaluate his predictions from 2019 as industries rapidly pivot and shift their priorities and why servitization has a role to play in that recovery.
People don’t like to admit their mistakes and professors are no different. Indeed, we like to believe that we give more attention to the science anfacts than others may do. But I was wrong. Late last year, I wrote a piece that predicted that the three priorities for manufacturing business in the 2020s would be about responding to the challenges of poor productivity and climate change, and grasping the opportunities of digital.
Servitization's role in Covid recovery
I think it’s now quite safe to say that although these will remain important, priorities will shift towards the recovery of the economy – in particular the recovery and rebuilding of industry large and small. I also think that we will start to pay more attention to embedding greater industrial resilience, in an attempt to insure against similar disruptions in the future. It’s early days, but how might we do this?
My earlier judgment seemed sound at the time. I based my prediction on what I saw, was told and read about. I rationalised that there were three principal forces driving change, and my logic went something like this:
The UK, among other western economies, has an historical problem with productivity, we work too many hours to generate the level of wealth we create and this adversely affects growth something that everybody is keen to address. The evidence of climate change is becoming more acute; it can be seen in the melting ice sheets in Greenland and raging bushfires of Australia.
Customers and consumers are becoming more sensitive to the environmental impact of consumption, and supply chains are being restructured. Meanwhile, digital innovation is all around - whether you see it as IOT, Industry 4.0 or simply a new App - and its adoption within industry is being widely advocated.
What my logic did not account for was the seismic shock of a pandemic. Business has changed in a way none of us could have foreseen; borders have closed, travel is banned, staff are in isolation, society is in lock-down, working from home is the new norm and the kids are off school! Business activity is polarising; some factories are being mothballed, while those that service the food and healthcare sectors, for example, are exceptionally busy. Indeed, governments are intervening in ways unimaginable since, in many countries, the Second World War. At this time, I know it’s difficult to look beyond the next few weeks, but it is important to look forwards, albeit with a little care and sensitivity.
"Resilience is key and business models based around services are more conducive to achieving this..."
Economic activity is essential and it must recover. Undoubtedly, there will be many government initiatives to kick-start the economy, but how do we rebuild the manufacturing industry to be more resilient to future shocks, whether these shocks are health-related, trade-related, or indeed from the adverse effects of climate change. Quite clearly, the same as before is not sufficient. We have a unique opportunity to move industry forward and adopt business models that are better-aligned with the new world we will enter.
The 1900s and early 2000s were dominated by production-consumption business models, exemplified by mass production, Henry Ford and the consumer society – make, sell, dump. Feeding a growing world population, ruthless in its consumption of resources, servicing hungry global markets and all too often insensitive to the impact on the environment. This was not sustainable, and now many sectors have ground to a halt.
While mass production of course is still alive across some sectors - food and medicine to name a few - in other sectors this lockdown has shown that we do not need cars, airports and shopping centres to the extent we used them. As such, there is a great opportunity for services, delivered remotely and consumed locally, which help to build the quality of our lives without the need for consumption. If industry can build new business models on this basis, we will also create a truly resilient economy.
So, I believe that resilience is key and business models based around services are more conducive to achieving this. But what could such services look like in practice? In my next blog, I will reflect on some of the businesses that are making great progress in this space.
- Read more articles by Tim Baines @ https://www.fieldservicenews.com/timbaines
- Read more on servitization @ https://www.fieldservicenews.com/servitization
- Read more about Covid-19 in service @ https://www.fieldservicenews.com/covid-19
- Read more about the Advanced Services Group @ https://www.advancedservicesgroup.co.uk
- Read more about the World Servitization Conference @ https://www.advancedservicesgroup.co.uk/wsc2020
New research from the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School suggests that a focus on product as a platform and a clear understanding of the operational network can positively influence servitization efforts. Dr Kawaljeet Kapoor...
New research from the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School suggests that a focus on product as a platform and a clear understanding of the operational network can positively influence servitization efforts. Dr Kawaljeet Kapoor explains…
Servitization is widely recognised in the manufacturing sector today for its potential to bring about sustainable business growth and realise benefit from society’s appetite for services. Servitization is generally understood as the process by which a manufacturing company transforms its business model and capabilities to compete through a combination of products and services, rather than just products alone. For manufacturers, achieving their servitization goals means going beyond their product-driven internal capabilities.
It requires them to move away from the traditional linear supply chain models, in favour of collaborative working with external partners, which can evolve into a network with multiple, interacting actors.In this setting, which we would call an ecosystem, platforms enable increased interactions and transactions between the multiple actors and partners, which were not necessarily a part of the initial supply chains.
There is a plethora of companies that successfully utilise platform strategies. Intel and Windows, for example, bring together third party companies and developers to create innovation platforms.
Others, such as Airbnb and Amazon, allow producers, consumers and organisations to find each other and enable a multitude of transactions with each other. Clearly, businesses across a range of industries are investing in platforms. However, examples from the manufacturing sector are far and few between.
An exploratory research project by The Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School, is looking to change that. The project focuses on understanding the servitization process in a manufacturing setting and investigates the influence platforms have on a manufacturer’s journey to servitization.
What do we mean by platform and ecosystem?
Simply put, a platform can be a product, service, or technology owned by a company that external innovators use as a foundation to develop new products, services or technologies. These newly developed offerings always complement a platform owner’s original offerings, which is why we call such offerings, the complements. By the same logic, we call the companies or people who develop such complements, the complementors.
For instance, on a Fire TV platform, Amazon is the platform owner, and the app developers are the complementors, who use the Fire TV stick as a foundation to develop a multitude of apps for the end-users. A platform, its complements and all network actors put together, is what we call a platform ecosystem. In a platform-based ecosystem, you can typically expect to see a platform owner, the complementors, and the end users as its key actors.
"Modularity makes enabling varied functionalities very simple. In a manufacturing setting, product offerings can be modularized and broken down into services associated with product spares, preventive maintenance, fleet management, and so on..."
These platforms can have varying architectural types. They can be of internal – closed nature, such as Makita’s cordless power tool platform, where all tools can only be powered by a battery developed in-house. They can be across a supply chain – partially open, examples of which can be found across all assembly industries. Both of these types aim at increasing offering variety without complicating internal structures.
They can also be external – open for all external innovators in an industry-level ecosystem setting. An example of this is IBM’s collaboration with Intel and Microsoft in the 1980s, which led to the development of the IBM PC, an open platform used by complementors to develop compatible software, such as Word and others.Irrespective of the types, these architectures are increasingly modular in nature, which means that platforms increase flexibility and reusability.
Complicated production processes are broken into smaller parts or modules that deliver an intended technological function in the overall system, and by doing so, enhance the core functionality of a platform. For example, Google Chrome is a search engine, and its extensions are ‘modules’ developed to offer extended functionalities like a calendar, dictionary or storage drive. In other words, when modules connect to a platform, they add new functionalities to include extended utilities and features.
Therefore, modularity makes enabling varied functionalities very simple. In a manufacturing setting, product offerings can be modularized and broken down into services associated with product spares, preventive maintenance, fleet management, and so on. In essence, manufacturing firms can configure multiple offerings using different combinations of the same modules.
Why the ecosystem view is important
The concept of platforms has been a topic of discussion for more than two decades. Both research and practice have shared fundamental insights on platform dynamics and how they work. But the focus on platforms alone is not enough – the ecosystem in which the platform operates is just as important. Understanding the ecosystem, identifying the different actors and understanding your own role will ultimately determine the platform’s success.
Taking a full view of the ecosystem will account for all actors involved and help manufacturers understand which actors can add the most value to the platform and deliver the service-led offerings intended in the first place - beyond.
Platforms in servitizing companies
The word platform is often associated with all things digital, such as a software component or an application. In fact, platforms are more than just a piece of software, particularly in a servitization-based setting. It would not be too far fetched to suggest that if a manufacturer is acting as a platform leader, then their platform will essentially be their ‘product’.
As they have ownership of the product, it is their decision if and how much of the product and/or its specifications can be shared with complementors to produce novel offerings. Let’s take Trucknology, MAN’s fleet management solution, as an example here. Looking for solutions to better manage fuel costs and truck uptime - their customers’ main pain points - commercial truck manufacturer MAN partnered with telematics company Microlise.
"Technology is only one of the many components that go into building an ecosystem, and there are social and architectural aspects that are key and deserve due recognition..."
Together, Microlise and MAN produced a rating system across a range of driver characteristics, such as harsh braking and harsh cornering. The result was the Microlise Tracking Unit (MTU3), which was installed in MAN trucks to feed back driver and vehicle performance data. Customers can now view driver reports, which help to better manage drivers and inform driver training. Drivers can also access the reports to assess their own performance and improve their skills based on accurate data.In this example, MAN represents the platform owner and Microlise represents the complementor, i.e. the external innovator.
The Microlise Tracking Unit is the complement, and because it can only be of value once installed onto the MAN truck, the truck as MAN’s original product offering has become the platform. Successful examples like MAN are evidence that in manufacturing, collaborating with an extended network of actors can derive benefits of maximum value from investments, as well as lasting relationships with the customer even after product sales.
Research on Platforms and Ecosystems
Yet, not many manufacturers have adopted this approach in their servitization strategies. Whilst the terms platform ecosystems, platform thinking, and platform approach are increasingly used in business and manufacturing, they are often used to describe technology alone. Our research suggests, however, that technology is only one of the many components that go into building an ecosystem, and there are social and architectural aspects that are key and deserve due recognition.
The aim of this research project is to explain how platform ecosystems influence manufacturers developing servitization-based offerings. The project is based on interviews with manufacturing companies on their way towards servitization. A key outcome of this research will be a guide to help servitizing firms position themselves across the different roles (platform leader, complementors, etc.), map dominant players and potential partners, in order to use their network dynamics strategically to pursue collaborative innovation.
Dr Kawaljeet Kapoor is a Research Fellow at The Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School.
When I joined Field Service News one word appeared more frequently in my browser and in-box than any others: servitization. Its resonance was affirmed by my Editor Kris Oldland; who, during one of our early induction meetings, explained the pivotal role it plays in modern manufacturing. Three months’ on, I flew to Stockholm, and then took a two-hour car journey to Linkoping where I was to attend a conference dedicated solely to the discipline.
So, it was during a coffee break I sat down with Tim Baines, Professor of Operation Strategy at the Aston Business School and a significant player in servitization’s evolution. I was pleased to have an audience with someone who could shed some light on an area that to a layman (me) can be slightly overwhelming. We both grabbed a coffee and one of the many excellent Swedish pastries on offer before finding a quiet corner to talk.
I started off (perhaps boldly) by explaining my slight surprise that a whole three-day conference on servitization existed; that universities have whole departments dedicated to its research – many of whom were here in Sweden presenting – and that academic papers on the subject are being circulated widely. “Business researchers observe industry,” Tim said, sipping his drink. “They’re looking for phenomena, which they are trying to conceptualize and describe and test their hypothesis and understanding. They ultimately arrive at a clinical description of what that phenomena is.”
The phenomena of servitization emerged from the marketing community in the 1980s, Tim tells me, with its first research work appearing in the European Management Journal. Sandra Vandermerwe and Juan Rada’s paper Servitization of Business: Adding Value by Adding Service was published in 1988 and the former is now credited with introducing the term ‘servitization’ to represent the addition of services to enhance a manufacturer’s commercial offerings.
However, the discipline went into incubation. That was until the 2000s when Tim, along with Andy Neely from Cambridge University and Raj Roy from Cranfield niversity respectively, were awarded a research grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to resurrect its study. “We all put a lot of effort into it,” Tim recalls. “If you look at the citations; the academic citations on servitization; look at the highest cited papers on servitization, it was really down to our collective work.”
Thanks in part to the funding, as well as the efforts of Tim and his fellow academics interest in the discipline flourished both academically and in practice. Demand for a specialist, academic event grew and eight years ago the Spring Servitization Conference was born; its eight years testament to its growth and popularity. Its first incarnation was a workshop of sorts laying out the basic principles of what the group wanted to achieve; essentially something that was crossdisciplinary within a tight-knit, specialised community.
Tim explains: “The conference is a platform for people to network, to meet each other, to share those ideas, those insights, and to learn from a few carefully chosen manufacturers how they’re seeing the world. I think what we will see in a few years’ time, we’ll have a stronger group coalescing around the key topics. Ultimately, this is a community which could very well define an
equivalent of Industry 4.0 or Industry 5.0.”
“Don’t be put-off by the word servitization... all manufacturers can gain some value through service...”
Industry 4.0 discussions were a key part of that morning’s presentations. Chairing a debate himself, Tim asked panelists if servitization was part of Industry 4.0 or vice-versa? Away from the conference hall I pushed him on his own thoughts. “Most manufacturing companies,” he said, “would associate Industry 4.0 with what’s going on inside the factory. Servitization invariably is what’s going on beyond the factory gate. In reality servitization predates industry 4.0. It will exist concurrently, and in a few years’ time will be still going on and industry 4.0 will have come and will have gone.”
Aligning with the conference’s theme, Delivering Services Growth in the Digital Era, Tim suggests firms feel more comfortable adopting servitization as digital offered a layer of security. “Digital is de-risking, enabling those more advanced services to be offered with lower risk,” he says. “It’s making it easier for manufacturers to do it.”
The other driver, Tim continued, is a broader societal shift around service consumption superseding product consumption. “If you think about servitization; it’s not a question in my mind whether companies will make more money from services or less money from services – that’s an outdated question, an outdated conversation. It’s really a case in the way that society is going. We are consuming more services where the appetite is for more sophisticated services.” Sustainability, another large societal issue is also being bearing down on the servitization sphere.
Tim is hopeful that servitization - and industry 4.0 - can ultimately negate the environmental impact of material-heavy supply chains. He referenced a presentation that morning from Cranfield University’s Tobias Benjamin Widmer, who talked about the de-materialisation of the chain; reducing the consumption of raw materials while still achieving a desired outcome.
From that, our conversation naturally turned to regulation and the influence of Government on sustainability initiatives. Firm polices around electric cars, for example, would Tim Says, have an impact on the supply chains. “If the incentives are there for electric cars, why would you have a diesel manufacturing plant? If you don’t have a diesel manufacturing plant, then your whole supply chain evaporates.”
“Here’s an interesting one,” he smiles. “The number of rotational components in a diesel engine car: about 1,500. In an electric car: about 22. Now what’s that going to do your material supply chain?”
We finish our drinks, aware of the slow movement of delegates at they file back into the conference room, themselves refreshed by caffeine and pastries. I shake hands with Tim and thank him for his time, and we both agree to keep in touch.
The next day, I send Tim an email asking if he could possibly spare a copy of his book he wrote with Howard Lightfoot, Made to Serve. The book is seen as an excellent primer into servitization, and I said as much Tim in my email; how it could enhance my learning on a topic that I was beginning to find rather intriguing.
The book arrived in my mailbox a few days’ later; a good-looking tome with a striking cover. A contemporary, simple image of three factories, the middle one with a striking red path leaving its front gate; fanning in perspective to the base of the cover. I read the book’s preface: “Don’t be put-off by the strange word of servitization,” part of it said, “all manufacturers can gain some value through service.”
I recalled the interview in Sweden, when Tim told me about the early days of servitization; when people queried the term, wondering how you spell it, asking if they would make money out of these advanced services. “Now, we don’t have these questions anymore,” Tim had said.
What is a relatively young area of research, servitization now seems to be an integral cog of a manufacturer’s approach to revenue. As Tim suggested, technology will evolve and eventually become exctinct (Industry 4.0, for example), but servitization, as a theory and practice, will continue to grow alongside and compliment manufacturing. In short, making money from selling spare parts is no longer the revenue stream it once was.
Mar 27, 2019 • Features • Advanced Services Group • Aston Centre for Servitization Research and Practi • Data Capture • Future of FIeld Service • manufacturing • Monetizing Service • Professor Tim Baines • Servitization • tim baines
Digital technologies, IoT and digitalisation have been big topics in the manufacturing sector. Combined with services, digital seems to be the answer for a multitude of manufacturing questions, if you take the hype at face value.
But for many manufacturers, digital actually raises more questions than it answers, with one particular question at the centre: how to capture the value of digitally-enabled services?
The Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School has recently released a whitepaper on performance advisory services, which aims to cut through the hype and provide clear information and insight into how manufacturers can make the most of digitally-enabled services.
Real business insight
In this whitepaper, we wanted to reflect real business insight and real business challenges. We invited senior executives from a range of manufacturing companies - from multinationals such as GE Power and Siemens to local SMEs – for a structured debate on digitally-enabled services.
The discussion and its outcomes formed the basis of the research for the whitepaper and helped crystallise the three areas that are most important to manufacturers:
1. Performance intelligence and data as a service offering;
2. How to capture value from these services;
3. How to approach the design process to achieve success.
What are performance advisory services?
The process by which a manufacturer transforms it business model to focus on the provision of services, not just the product, is called servitization. Generally, we distinguish three types of services. Base services, such as warranties and spare parts, are standard for many manufacturers and focus on the provision of the product. Intermediate services, such as maintenance, repair and remanufacturing, focus on the condition of the product. Advanced services take a step further and focus on the capability that the product enables.
In this framework, performance advisory services are situated in between intermediate and advanced services. Typically, these are services that utilise digital technologies to monitor and capture data on the product whilst in use by the customer. These insights can include data on performance, condition, operating time and location – valuable intelligence that is offered back to the customer, in order to improve asset management and increase productivity.
Why are they attractive to manufacturers?
Performance advisory services are attractive to manufacturers because they allow the creation and capture of value from digital technologies that are likely in use already. Take the example of a photocopier - with the addition of sensors that monitor paper and toner stocks, it can send alerts when stocks are getting low. This kind of data is valuable to the customer, as it will help improve inventory management and avoid service disruptions or downtime, but it is also valuable to the manufacturer in helping them understand how the product is used, providing data that they can use to re-design products or to develop and offer new services.
Making money from performance advisory services.
Performance advisory services offer the manufacturer the potential to capture value either directly or indirectly and there is a strong business case for either. Whilst charging a fee directly for data or a service provided is compelling, the potential indirect value for the manufacturer should not be underestimated, as it can yield not only greater control and further sales, but also new and innovative offers, as well as improved efficiencies.
"Performance advisory services are situated in between intermediate and advanced services..."
In the photocopier scenario, the data generated could be sold to the customer as a service subscription, thus earning money directly.
Alternatively, the manufacturer could use the data generated for maintenance programmes or pre-emptive toner and paper sales, thus earning money indirectly. In reality, however, direct and indirect value capture are likely to go hand in hand. A prime example of this is equipment manufacturer JCB, whose machines are fitted with technology to alert the customer if the equipment leaves a predefined geographical area.
For the customer, knowing the exact location of the equipment is valuable – as it may have been stolen. But it also greatly improves efficiency for the manufacturer when field technicians are sent out for maintenance work and do not lose time locating the vehicle.
Performance advisory services - just one step on the journey to servitization
Performance advisory services present a compelling business case for manufacturers looking to innovate services through digital technologies, in order to improve growth and business resilience.
With the immediate opportunity to capture value, these digitally-enabled services are a first step for many manufacturers towards more service-led strategies and servitization.
But that is what they are – just one step on the journey to servitization. Manufacturers looking to compete through services should not stop with performance advisory services.
In the environment of a more and more outcome based economy, it is imperative to understand the potential of taking a step further to advanced services and to recognise performance advisory services as a step toward this.
The full whitepaper Performance Advisory Services: A pathway to creating value through digital technologies and servitization by The Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School is available for purchase online here.
Aug 01, 2018 • Features • Advanced Services Group • Alfa Laval • Future of FIeld Service • field service • Servitization • Servitization Conference • Through life Engineering • Ulrika Lindberg • Servitization and Advanced Services
Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News talks to Ulrika Lindberg, Vice President, Global Service at Alfa Laval AB following on from her keynote presentation at the Spring Servitization Conference, about why having a customer-centric...
Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News talks to Ulrika Lindberg, Vice President, Global Service at Alfa Laval AB following on from her keynote presentation at the Spring Servitization Conference, about why having a customer-centric strategy is key to developing advanced services...
One thing stood out very clearly when Ulrika Lindberg, Vice President, Global Service at Alfa Laval AB posted up her organisations mission statement during her presentation at the Spring Servitization Conference, hosted by Copenhagen Business School and the Advanced Services Group, part of Aston University in the UK, that was that even within this small, yet carefully crafted sentence which captures Alfa Laval's corporate identity, it is clear the value they place on their customers.
On the surface, it certainly seemed indicative of an organisation that already had a clear Outside-In philosophy with regards to how they view their relationship with their customers.
Against a backdrop of a conference where advanced services are the sole talking point, I was keen to see just how important Lindberg and her colleagues at Alfa Laval believe such a mindset is when seeking to establish service as a core strategy within an organisation.
“How important is it? Well it’s in our DNA,” begins Lindberg.
"Whilst we have a wide range of products, we have an even wider range of industries that we serve and we would never be able to do that successfully unless we understood our customers’ needs..."
“Part of the reason why that is, is because whilst we have a wide range of products, we have an even wider range of industries that we serve and we would never be able to do that successfully unless we understood our customers’ needs within their industry.”
“We need to understand how our products can benefit an industry and our customers’ within that industry - and if we don’t have that understanding then we wouldn’t be successful. That is how our whole company has grown, by actually finding where our products could benefit certain industries and how.”
“Some of our products, although customised are not that unique, but one of the things we’ve been able to be successful at is tailoring those to a certain customer or a certain industry.”
It is this industry knowledge, largely fed by a desire to get close to their customers and understand the challenges that they face that has become an intrinsic part of how Alfa Laval approach growth and development - and this is something that ultimately builds upon itself over time.
“The more critical it becomes for us to understand the needs of the sector, the bigger the industry becomes to us and then the further knowledge and insights we develop - which embeds us even further into the industry and into our customer’s processes,” Lindberg explains.
Of course, operating across such a wide array of vertical sectors means that Alfa Laval have to establish a flexible approach to their service offerings as what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander. This is something that becomes particularly prescient when we look at servitization.
One of the big discussions across the conference and beyond is whether there is a need for either a customer pull or a market in decline and in need of disruption for a company to successfully introduce advanced services.
We all see that data is going to be hugely important in the future and we need to build our services around that but I think that we have a lot of work to do to build on that“I’m not sure,” Lindberg responds, giving the question consideration when I put it to her.
“I think certain industries are more advanced and it is easier in those. Equally some geographies are more advanced and it is easier there also. Personally, I would say the geography dimension might influence more whether a company is able to introduce advanced services.”
"I think across the globe, in terms of data and analysing data, there is a big interest but I still think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity this is going to drive in terms of who is going to look at the data and what kind of advice are they going to be delivering?"
"If we look at predictive maintenance who is going to be calling the customer and saying the service is required? If we need to go in and stop the machine what power do we have to do this in a critical environment for the customers where that maintenance might have significant consequences for the customer.”
“I think we all see that data is going to be hugely important in the future and we need to build our services around that but I think that we have a lot of work to do to build on that. The appetite for this is big all around the globe, but the most critical question is 'are we ready?' That is the question I would suggest most companies need to be asking themselves.”
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Jul 24, 2018 • Features • Advanced Services Group • Andy Harrison • Aston Centre for Servitization Research and Practi • Future of FIeld Service • field service • Rolls Royce • Service Management • Servitization • Servitization Conference • Through Life Engineering Services • Servitization and Advanced Services
Rolls Royce’s Andy Harrison has been playing a pivotal role in the Through Life Engineering Services Centre’s work in putting together a blueprint for how organisations can establish advanced services capabilities - a topic he recently discussed...
Rolls Royce’s Andy Harrison has been playing a pivotal role in the Through Life Engineering Services Centre’s work in putting together a blueprint for how organisations can establish advanced services capabilities - a topic he recently discussed at this year’s Spring Servitization Conference. Kris Oldland sat down with him to find out more...
When the topic of servitization comes up it is usually only a matter of time before Rolls Royce and Power by the Hour is mentioned. Indeed, Rolls Royce alongside a select number of other organisations such as Caterpillar and Alstom have essentially become the de-facto poster boys for all things advanced services.
Who better then, to lead a multi-organisation committee created to help distil the complexities of servitization into a meaningful framework than one of one of their key service executives, Andy Harrison, Engineering Associate Fellow - life cycle engineering?
But what exactly is the Through Life Engineering Services Centre, which Harrison heads up?
“For a number of years here in the UK we have had a group of companies get together around through life engineering services. In essence, a sort of working club made up of people working in the services space and in particular services around complex long-life engineered products,” he explains.
“For a number of years, we had struggled to get a framework diagram around what we meant by that this particular space. Then in mid-2016 the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing Through Life Engineering Services, which was run out of Cranfield and Durham Universities, issued a strategy paper which called for the creation of a national council - something we have subsequently created.”
So what is the key function of this council?
One of the challenges we have taken on has been to develop a relatively simple explanation of what exactly through life engineering services are“One of the challenges we have taken on has been to develop a relatively simple explanation of what exactly through life engineering services are,” Harrison explains.
“In addition to this, we have also moved onto tackling the question of what a national educational program within this area would look like. If we wanted our engineering graduates to arrive at the doors of organisations already understanding the value of through life support, which we think is 16% + of GDP, then what would that involve?”
It’s an ambitious project, but one that is absolutely critical as we see economies both in the UK and beyond become increasingly more service-centric and Harrison has played an integral role in fulfilling the council’s vision, which is now coming together at pace.
“I’ve led the working group that has put that framework diagram and the education program that goes around it. That is in the process of being embodied into a publicly available specification by the British Standards Institute and it is due for publication sometime very soon,” he comments.
“Essentially what we’ve got is a framework diagram that outlines the topics that make up this thing called Though Life Service, then dividing those topics into further subheadings with information and direction as to what a company would need to know to understand each of those sub-headings.”
In fact, one of the highlights of The Spring Servitization Conference, held this year in Copenhagen, was when Harrison very eloquently and concisely walked the attendees through this framework.
“Basically, the framework diagram is essentially setting the scene when we talk about this space,” Harrison explains.
It’s a way of thinking about the big picture and breaking it out into commonly described terms so that when the industry practitioners review the academic material they have a frame of reference“It’s a way of thinking about the big picture and breaking it out into commonly described terms so that when the industry practitioners review the academic material they have a frame of reference - they can look at it and say ‘OK so this is addressing this part of the equation.’”
This is a huge part of the discussion that needs to come to the fore if the worlds of academia and industry are to fully align around the concept and strategies of servitization - a common language is essential. This is also why the bringing together of a number of different companies from disparate sectors to work on this project alongside Harrison and his team at Rolls Royce is also imperative.
“The fundamentally important part of this is that if you let any one organisation try to write this they would do it in their own language in their own context. It might work for them but it is unlikely to work for a broad range of companies,” Harrison explains.
We have deliberately forced ourselves to argue how to get this down to a small number of items“We have deliberately forced ourselves to argue how to get this down to a small number of items,” he adds.
Within the framework itself, the group has essentially identified three core areas of activity.
“Firstly, there is the business context where the sub-elements are all centred around if and how you understand your customers. Can you identify with them the value opportunities are - and this can be either getting more work out of a machine or spending less money obtaining that work,” Harrison begins.
“Do you have the organisational set up to deliver these benefits and do your customers have the right set up to receive those benefits? Do you have all of the underpinning capabilities that are required such as the consumable elements you need to deliver this level of service - for example, can you model x and predict y? Can you gather the data required? Do those things exist and do you have them within your organisation? We then have to consider what are the service value streams that you have to offer? We divide that up into four streams which are avoid, contain, recover and convert.”
The road to servitization is challenging and the journey for every company of course slightly different reflecting the unique needs, processes and goals an organisation may face“Avoid is can you change the reality of how much damage the product is accumulating and the likely consequences of that? Contain is about an organisation's ability to step in and make the decisions around when and what to do as intervention activities - so there is no physical activity in this step, it is all around decision making. Recover is your ability to re-inject life back into the asset, through overhaul, repair and inspection. Finally Convert is about your ability to take the experience that you gain in the other three and to generate additional value out of those.”
“The final dimension is the basic life-cycle of the product and the service which talks about the need for planning throughout the life-cycle, the creation process of your products and service, standing up ready for operation, the operational activity of making the products and delivering the support service and eventually the retirement phase of the downturn of the supply chain, the de-commissioning of assets and the eventual retirement of the entire of service offering around them.”
The road to servitization is challenging and the journey for every company of course slightly different reflecting the unique needs, processes and goals an organisation may face.
However, the framework Harrison and his peers have put in place does an excellent job of signposting the way, to help companies navigate the path successfully.
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Jun 06, 2018 • Features • Advanced Services Group • aston university • Future of FIeld Service • Outcome based services • Podcast • field service • Service Management • Servitization • The Field Service Podcast • tim baines
Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News talks to Prof. Tim Baines about the recent Spring Servitization Conference hosted by The Advanced Services Group and how the conversation around servitization is continuing to evolve as academia...
Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News talks to Prof. Tim Baines about the recent Spring Servitization Conference hosted by The Advanced Services Group and how the conversation around servitization is continuing to evolve as academia and industry come together to drive advanced services forwards...
NEVER MISS AN EPISODE! You can now subscribe to the Field Service Podcast via iTunes here
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Annick Perry, Senior Project Manager, Noventum gives us some insight into the findings of a recent research project that Noventum and Aston Universities Advanced Services Group have undertaken to look at Advanced Services Trend within...
Annick Perry, Senior Project Manager, Noventum gives us some insight into the findings of a recent research project that Noventum and Aston Universities Advanced Services Group have undertaken to look at Advanced Services Trend within Manufacturing...
In a joint research study with the Advanced Services Group, a centre of excellence at Aston Business School, Noventum explored how five societal ‘Megatrends' bring opportunities for business growth for manufacturing companies through advanced IoT enabled services.
The five societal megatrends we explored in this research are:
- Value change: The increasing importance of transparency, diversity, individualisation and freedom of choice, as well as demand for meaning and connectedness.
- Green and resource scarcity: The increasing consciousness of manufacturers when providing products and services to fulfil human development and at the same time take care of the natural system.
- Health and Aging: An ageing society and the increasing importance of healthy living and lifestyle.
- Globalisation and the need for community: The increasing emphasis on communities, localities, etc. to foster identity in light of a globalised world.
- Inequality and Social Exclusion: The increasing market share of poor customers, means reducing the complexity and cost of a good and its production. Designing products for emerging countries may also call for an increase in durability and when selling the products, reliance on unconventional distribution channels. Globalisation and rising incomes in emerging countries may also drive frugal innovation, which implies that services and products need not be of inferior quality but must be provided cheaply[/ordered_list]
In this article, the focus is on just one of the Mega Trends ‘Value Change’ which provided some interesting insights on how this will impact the manufacturing industry.
Customers’ perceptions of value are changing
Consumer habits are changing, we are becoming more tech-savvy, and less connected to ownership of products and, in favour of experiences delivered by service providers operating new business models, like Airbnb. Expectations of a personalized experience are higher, which means companies must respond to customers’ needs faster and in a unique way. This change is passed on by B2C customers towards their B2B suppliers and partners. For manufacturers, this means staying alert and being proactive. As Anders Mossberg of Scania Trucks stated in our study, “Talk to your customers’ customers because they are the ones that will drive the trends in the future.”
Customers want to Buy Everything as a Service
Manufacturers are recognising the need to find new ways of offering value to customers. Their offerings are changing from a product focus to a service focus, which emphasises providing the customer with the capability to achieve their business goals, instead of emphasising product features. They are now competing through a combination of products and services, enabled by technology, tailored to meet the customer’s needs. Rolls-Royce, for example, sells hours of flight time for its jet engines rather than the more traditional purchase of the engine. These are more sophisticated, higher-value contracts, based on outcomes. They are also higher risk for the manufacturer but with higher potential to create a competitive advantage.
New technologies enable to respond to changing needs
New developments in technology are enabling the value chain to be redesigned. Embedded sensors and processors in assets and devices are increasingly capable of transmitting data to control centres to signal the need for repair or refurbishment. Research participants cited the introduction of driverless vehicles, some of whom mentioned that this is already a reality in some situations, and will increasingly be the case in the future. It will provide the opportunity for companies to take leadership and redesign the value chain to increase efficiency and added value. New configurations of networks allow companies to redefine their role in the value chain.
A transformation is needed
Delivering such advanced service requires fundamental changes in the manufacturer’s operations, relationships, organisational structures and potentially a change in their culture. Denis Bouteille of Fives addressed this in our study by saying, “Talking to the customer, we need people who can really develop the empathy, the listening and the deep understanding.”
Conclusions of the research on societal ‘Megatrends’
This exploratory research concludes that societal megatrends can drive opportunities for manufacturers to compete and grow through advanced services. To realise those opportunities, it’s important that companies exploit the implications of new trends together with their customers and explore what the impact of societal trends might be for future needs. The megatrends explored in this research show a significant potential for companies to develop advanced services and strengthen the competitive position of companies. However, some key factors need to be taken into mind when manufacturing companies take the decision to invest in developing advanced services.
1. Before companies can start developing advanced IoT enabled services…..
- Top management needs to support the development of advanced services and provide clear leadership to staff in the mindset appropriate to the development of the new capabilities[/unordered_list]
2. Stay close to your customers to identify opportunities for advanced IoT enabled services by understanding how value perception and needs are impacted by societal trends
- Understand your companies role in tackling global social and environmental challenges
- Explore the opportunities of the ‘circular economy’
- Recognise the impact of IoT on your customer's value chain
3. When you are developing the business models around advanced services make sure that:
- The tacit knowledge of the very experienced but ageing workforce is transferred into technical solutions to deliver advanced services
- Your company thinks global, but acts local and delivers a superior customer experience
Want to know more? Download an executive summary of this research and learn how the other societal trends can bring business opportunities. @ http://fs-ne.ws/dOId30iepLh