Is Industrial Maintenance as a Service Right for You?
We live in the “as a service” era, where products and services have been commoditized into subscription programs and on-demand offerings. In many ways, this is a good thing: It simplifies accessibility and lowers costs for customers. This is especially evident in industrial sectors, where “as a service” offerings are becoming more prominent.
Industrial maintenance as a service (IMaaS) is a great example of a trend that’s bringing down barriers to equipment upkeep while improving the standard of maintenance for manufacturers and their critical equipment.
The traditional maintenance landscape
The traditional approach to maintenance can be stressful for manufacturers who rely on specialized equipment to facilitate production. There are two main schools of thought: in-house and outsourced maintenance.
- Through in-house maintenance, the company keeps on-staff repair technicians who are trained in servicing the full breadth of equipment on the factory floor.
- With an outsourced maintenance model, manufacturers partner with an organization like GES to ensure their equipment is repaired and maintained to OEM standards.
In either case, the onus of repair and maintenance falls to someone other than the original equipment manufacturer. Repairs still need to meet OEM standards to ensure the integrity of the equipment and the validity of its warranty, but there’s often a disconnect.
What is industrial maintenance as a service?
With IMaaS, manufacturers can transfer the responsibilities of maintenance management back to OEMs. By utilizing Industry 4.0 technology, cloud-based platforms, and technologies embedded within the machines, manufacturers can shift the burden of maintenance to the people who understand the machines best: those who made them.
IMaaS is a two-way street. Not only do manufacturers get the advantage of OEM-level service; OEMs also have the opportunity to create new revenue streams while ensuring the long-term integrity of their equipment in the field. It’s a model many OEMs have begun to explore.
The drawbacks of an IMaaS model
The main downside of the IMaaS model is the relative newness of the concept. First, OEMs need to develop a standard platform for equipment maintenance. Then, they need to create a business model to determine whether the ongoing maintenance management costs should be built into the purchase price for machines or offered as a subscription. There are CAPEX vs OPEX considerations for every company and every machine.
There’s also the question of ownership rights. While an IMaaS model allows manufacturers to put the burden of service on the OEM, it shouldn’t mean compromising their control or use of the equipment. This is a conflict that bumps up against concerns like the Right to Repair and OEM ecosystems.
The coming age of industry-as-a-service models
IMaaS is increasingly linked to the latest Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) innovations and technologies. By migrating machine information to the cloud or Industry 4.0, producers and OEMs will have access to up-to-date, reliable data that enables better decision making and insight. This process lays the groundwork for not just IMaaS, but other industrial “as a service” models in the future.
But not all manufacturers have embraced Industry 4.0 yet. Producers should keep in mind that everything related to technology is a race. The fastest adopters and adapters will benefit most, not just from IMaaS, but from the cloud-based, data-driven solutions Industry 4.0 can deliver.