Servicing by the OEM saves money and secures asset value

16 Sep 2019 Reading time calculated text

Effective, expert maintenance, provided as part of a longer-term service commitment between OEM and customer, ensures optimum reliability, on-time responses, cost savings and effective risk management says John Carnall, Senior Vice President, Global Lifecycle Support, MacGregor.

In the last ten years, reported shipping incidents have increased by 33%, with the same percentage caused by machinery damage or failure. In many cases, these incidents could have been avoided through periodic visual inspection, but the prolonged industry downturn has meant that maintenance budget cuts have run so deep that even these have been impacted.

Every equipment supplier in the market is aware of the difficulties facing the industry and recognises that cost control has become a main driver in the maintenance sector. However, saving money does not mean stopping maintenance activity; it means doing it right first time and avoiding costly repeat work.

With raised levels of cost-awareness, it is even more important that shipowners, charterers and fleet managers look to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as MacGregor, for their maintenance and technical support requirements.

Purchasing non-OEM spare parts and service support, or deferring planned maintenance, does not represent real value as this will cost more in the longer term, with owners also missing out on the commercial benefits of optimised equipment availability and performance.

In addition, there is an increasing level of scrutiny applied to equipment failure-related insurance claims, particularly where genuine parts have not been used or maintenance not carried out correctly with an increasing number of claims not being settled as a consequence.

Effective maintenance practices minimise failure and incident related risks, with insurance companies better able to manage and substantiate a claim if they are able to demonstrate that proper maintenance had been undertaken.

OEMs know their equipment better than anybody else. They can more easily assess and determine its condition to ensure that parts are not replaced unnecessarily, and develop tailored, cost-effective plans for repair and renewal. OEM technical personnel can also make relatively small adjustments to operational parameters that deliver material performance benefits.

It is generally accepted that effective maintenance practices positively support commercial operations, so OEMs need to help customers with making the right service support choices in an environment of constrained budgets.

Close is good, even closer is better

Whilst good maintenance practices positively support business operations, you have to start by being close-by. My belief is that the closer you are to a customer, the better you support them.

One of the goals at MacGregor has been to strengthen our global footprint and we currently have 50 service offices in 32 countries. With the acquisition of companies such as Rapp Marine last year, we have increased our presence in North America, particularly on the West Coast.

Branch offices are the front line for customers and we are currently 80 percent of the way through implementing our objective of being able to provide local support in all of our customers’ time zones. This is core to our service commitment and based on regional hubs which support the local offices.

It is all about speed and responsiveness, as equipment that is not working is not earning money. This is a key benefit of the hubs as they bring integrated support capabilities together in one location, enhancing the ability to better serve our customers.

Additionally, we have recently developed a field service tool that provides our service technicians with extensive equipment-specific information, including maintenance and upgrade history. Over 25% of our field based technicians are now using the tool, and we are working towards it being available to all by the end of 2020.

The changing service landscape

Optimal equipment reliability and availability is the priority. We are establishing planned, preventative maintenance and spare part framework agreements with our customers, with more than 3000 now in place, and progressing towards condition-based monitoring and the ability to predict component failure.

To support effective dry-docking activities, we have developed a planning tool based on each vessel’s unique IMO number. All MacGregor customers are contacted up to 18 months before the docking is due to arrange an advance equipment inspection, followed by the provision of a condition report and recommendations. This enables parts to be ordered in sufficient time and required work to be undertaken in alignment with the dry-docking schedule. 

By taking a planned, preventative maintenance approach, through tailored framework agreements, owners can be assured that their equipment is kept in prime operating condition, with good records and the use of OEM spare parts to minimise safety and failure risks. 

To support the development and provision of predictive maintenance services, all new operationally critical MacGregor equipment will be supplied to customers with a data transfer capability included as standard. Retrofit possibilities will also be provided for existing installed equipment.

The provision of effective training to increase operational safety and performance is another area where digital technology-enabled advances can provide significant benefits. We have established a virtual-reality based simulator centre in Arendal, Norway to train our own engineers and customers’ crew, with the next step being to establish this capability in the regional hubs to increase availability and reduce associated travel costs.

In the area of environmental sustainability, MacGregor has launched a range of biodegradable, environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) and we provide a switching service for customers wanting to take advantage of these.

We have also introduced a cost-effective solution to address noise pollution in ports, called ‘Soft Flaps’, which replaces the steel flaps traditionally used at the end of a ramp.

Effective service support relies on two-way communication

Saving costs does not mean cutting down on maintenance activities; it means being focused on doing it the right way.

When we are able to have an effective dialogue with customers, jointly plan required work and then carry it out as agreed, we are the best at what we do and can deliver the world-class operational support that is expected of MacGregor.


Editor’s notes

John Carnall has been working in the service industry for over forty years, with many different roles in the maritime and heavy equipment industries. Over the past twenty-five years, his primary responsibilities have been related to ensuring that the customer support aspects of a business are kept in priority focus. He took up his current position with MacGregor in 2015.