From Pain to Gain: Smooth Data Management in the Spare Parts Business

Published: 2022-03-08 Updated: 2023-11-10
Subject: Identifying spare parts Selling spare parts Ordering spare parts Tools and technology Creating spare parts catalogs

Spare parts keep machines and systems running. Service technicians can find suitable spare parts in spare parts catalogs. But machines are becoming more complex, the flood of data is growing and information is becoming outdated ever faster. That's why data management in the spare parts business is more important than ever - and at the same time one of the biggest challenges.

What role does data play in the spare parts business?

Company data forms the basis for transparency and efficient business processes in all industries. It provides valuable information and makes it possible to draw conclusions for improvements. But only those who maintain their data can generate added value from it.

Data plays a particularly important role in the spare parts business. Every machine and every individual part is associated with a wide variety of information that is relevant for both manufacturers and users, for example:

  • Spare part names
  • Part numbers
  • Colors
  • Dimensions
  • Prices
  • Descriptions
  • Serial numbers of machines

In addition, there is information about the appearance of machines, components and spare parts in the form of graphics or photos.

Why do manufacturers need to optimize their data management?

It is true that data can be found everywhere in the company. However, they are located in different systems, on different servers, or even worse: on a colleague's desktop. For spare parts catalogs, they are indispensable. However, bringing them together has not been an easy task so far. And as soon as the data used changes, the catalog is no longer up-to-date.

The challenge is to check the data, structure it, and bring it together centrally and keep it up to date. This makes the work easier not only for machine and plant manufacturers, but also for operators who need such data for maintenance and servicing.

Challenges for users

The need for clean data management becomes particularly clear when it comes to identifying and ordering spare parts. The reality often looks like this:

Situation No. 1: The needle in the haystack

A service technician needs spare parts for several machines to maintain a plant. One of the machines was purchased through a third party, so information on the spare parts is missing. For another, complex machine, the required parts can only be identified with the help of an expert. However, the service hotline is overloaded - the service technician loses valuable time.

Situation No. 2: Expensive typing errors

After a long search, the customer of a component manufacturer has identified the required spare part in a paper catalog. Now he has to place the order with the manufacturer and type the order number from the catalog into an online order form. In the process, he makes a mistake and triggers an order for the wrong part. Errors in ordering not only cost time, but also generate additional costs for the manufacturer and the operator.

How data management works in the spare parts business

For manufacturers to make their customers' and service technicians' jobs easier and generate more revenue in after-sales service, they need to free their data from silos within the company and transfer it to an orderly and networked workflow. When data converges in an interactive spare parts catalog, all relevant information for manufacturers and their service technicians as well as for customers is bundled in one place. Since all data is linked bidirectionally, information can be exchanged and updated more easily.

Catalog software simplifies and digitizes data management - from the creation of the spare parts catalog and its publication to the identification and ordering of spare parts by users.

This is how data transfer to the spare parts catalog works

Via standard interfaces, the catalog software can be connected to enterprise resource planning, design, logistics or service documentation and imports all data relevant for spare parts catalogs.

This includes:

  • hierarchical parts lists
  • master data
  • drawings
  • photos, pixel and vector graphics
  • prices

Technical documents such as maintenance and repair manuals can also be integrated into the spare parts catalog - if required, this creates a comprehensive service information system that takes after-sales service to the next level.

Once all the data has been imported into the catalog system and structured, the spare parts catalog can be published online or on various data carriers. After publication, it can be updated with just a few clicks.

The 5 most important advantages of data management via spare parts catalog for manufacturers and operators:

  • Manufacturers can automatically process and structure all relevant data in an interactive spare parts catalog and update it at any time with just a few clicks.
  • Technicians can specify their search and narrow down search results. In this way, they always receive exact hits. An intelligent search function allows them to search in subsections or across all information in the spare parts catalog. Search results are displayed in a list enriched with supplementary information.
  • In a digital spare parts catalog, the data of several machines can be displayed effortlessly - if required, all service information and machines flow together in one catalog.
  • The digital spare parts catalog provides access to information that was otherwise only available through the manufacturer's help desk. Since this information is available 24/7, service technicians can complete their work without delay and in less time.
  • All data is centrally bundled and linked bidirectionally, so it is always up to date. This means that incorrect orders and incorrect deliveries can be reduced to a minimum. By displaying alternative spare parts, manufacturers additionally boost their spare parts business.

For companies, mastering data management means retaining control over processes, information and structures. With the interactive spare parts catalog, manufacturers can finally use these advantages in their spare parts business. They thus improve the quality of after-sales service. On the other hand, service technicians and operators receive the data they need at any time.