What Is Complex MRO

Oct. 30, 2014
Industry experts usually divide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) software into three categories: component, heavy and complex. “Component MRO is for subassemblies that can be removed from an asset and rebuilt,” explains Patrick Zirnhelt, vice president of energy and asset management at IFS North America. “Heavy MRO essentially focuses on aircraft, oceangoing vessels, and the like.” Complex MRO is for maintaining large systems, such as manufacturing processes and production lines.

The current breed of complex MRO software is really a subset of enterprise asset management (EAM) software—a subset that taps into today’s corporate information pipelines to manage the maintenance and reliability of equipment. It links traditional maintenance and support with project management and logistics to boost performance, extend mean times between failure, and lower inventory and other costs in the maintenance-and-reliability value chain. Although MRO software still relies on conventional condition-monitoring techniques like vibration analysis, thermography and oil analysis, it also gleans information from process parameters.

Another characteristic is its greater granularity for traceability and serialization of parts than is usually found in most EAM environments. “The ability to manage overhaul projects with multiple dependencies, external contractors and risk factors is a point of differentiation,” says Zirnhelt. Serialization is useful for maintaining audit trails in regulated industries like aerospace, as well as in industries like oil and gas that face huge health, safety and environmental risks during equipment failures.

Complex MRO software helps with another dimension of risk management: paring back inventories and eradicating waste. It helps users to answer questions like, “How can I hold just enough spares to ensure that customer objectives are achieved without an unacceptable risk of disruption to normal service?” says Victor Lough, product manager for Avantis EAM at Schneider Electric (Schneider Electric, http://www.schneider-electric.com/site/home).

Lough points to how his Avantis.PRO EAM software was instrumental in helping a company to improve the reliability of its equipment and cut its inventory. Based on key performance indicators (KPIs) selected by executives, the company revised its processes and procedures and codified them in an asset reliability model in the software, which implemented complex MRO at all locations. “The result was a reduction in excess of $1 million in annual stock purchases, with over $3 million in production’s annual operating plan,” reports Lough.

Software suppliers note that MRO software has undergone some important changes over the past few years. Among them is access. “Most complex MRO software can be accessed via the web, thus removing the dependencies of expensive hardware, networking and software cost,” says Baiju Jacob, MRO practice head at Hexaware Technologies (Hexaware Technologies, http://hexaware.com/). “Due to advancements in mobility, a lot of functionality is also enabled on smartphones and tablets to assist field engineers and put the right information at their fingertips.” 

For additional information, see Maintenance: More Than Spare Parts Management, (http://www.automationworld.com/maintenance-more-spare-parts-management).

About the Author

James R. Koelsch, contributing writer | Contributing Editor

Since Jim Koelsch graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, he has spent more than 35 years reporting on various kinds of manufacturing technology. His publishing experience includes stints as a staff editor on Production Engineering (later called Automation) at Penton Publishing and as editor of Manufacturing Engineering at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. After moving to freelance writing in 1997, Jim has contributed to many other media sites, foremost among them has been Automation World, which has been benefiting from his insights since 2004.

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