In the present dynamic business environment with rapid globalization and constant fluctuations in essential commodity prices, labor rates, government policies and regulatory norms, and customer preferences, the biggest challenge faced by the end-user industries across process, discrete, and hybrid is to curb their operational expenditure (OPEX) and enhance plant productivity. In fact in the recent years, a large portion of manufacturers’ strategic investments, despite tight capital spend, are focused toward plant modernization and upgrading with advanced automation and IT infrastructure. This shift is predominantly due to the huge amount of loss incurred from improper plant maintenance strategies that resulted in unexpected plant downtime and dramatic increase in operational spending. Moreover, over the last couple of years, the market also witnessed a significant leap in innovation and technologies with digital and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies. It serves as a critical tool to transform maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) approach and end users are well positioned to evaluate their asset health and performance by embracing these technologies in their facilities.

With the dawn of smart manufacturing and service-based business models, it is imperative to leverage IIoT to establish a connected ecosystem including MRO. This not only helps manufacturers to reduce their operating cost but also boosts their revenue. The economic downturn in 2008 has changed manufacturer’s mindset and has instilled the need to outsource their MRO activities particularly to those distributors offering extensive range of value-added services and provide end-to-end support in plant maintenance. The changing relationship and position of MRO distributors in the value chain unleashes new opportunities to expand their business offerings, and this is best achieved through IIoT which helps to coin distinctive value proposition, thereby reaching new frontiers in the present competitive environment.

Our recent research on this market has revealed that OEMs prefer to partner with MRO distributors offering wide range of value-added services rather than positioning themselves as mere equipment parts and component supplier. In fact MRO companies foresee enormous benefits by implementing IIoT to enhance purchasing experience, promote transparency, reduce supply chain complexity, and offer unique service offerings. For instance, smart inventory management solution is a typical example demonstrating the change in manufacturers need. Notably amongst the large scale manufacturers who have invested and are actively investing toward integrating various functions and departments across the enterprise prefer to assimilate their MRO activities with existing enterprise asset management (EAM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. These solutions help in efficient management of inventories by replenishing the stock on time and prevent shortage, avoiding excessive stock and principally avoid asset failure. In addition to automating supplies of equipment parts and components, there is growing prominence for digital platforms. This in fact has proven to have wider outreach especially amongst the small and medium scale enterprise in emerging countries with the primary reason being ease of access, from anywhere at any time, and ability to seek detailed information on product specification, price, and availability through e-catalogues. Furthermore, a few MRO companies are actively expanding their mobility platform that enables engineers/operators to manage orders and inventories without any hassle.

With investments flowing toward achieving IT-OT convergence that facilitates seamless integration and flow of communication across vast range of assets, plant engineers and operators have the ability to efficiently manage plant maintenance and repair at its early stage. The direct access to asset data on real-time basis combined with analytical capability helps to consolidate, interpret, and visualize data thereby providing accurate and reliable results on asset health. This drives the demand for MRO distributors with strong engineering prowess monitoring the asset condition and support manufacturers’ transition from reactive to predictive maintenance.

With smart sensors and cloud infrastructure made affordable and drastic advancements in analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, IIoT in the context of MRO is expected to provide new benefits. It has the potential to increase equipment efficiency and production throughput, promote safety and at the same reduce asset’s wear and tear, thereby minimizing the scope of unplanned failure and the need for frequent maintenance services. To remain distinctive in this highly competitive environment and achieve their strategic priorities, which is reducing OPEX and enhancing production efficiency, IIoT serves as the cornerstone for redefining the approach toward MRO.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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