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Mind Blown: What You Need to Know about Traceability in Your Repair Process

Last modified: June 25, 2018

Traceability can go a long way toward determining product quality and customer satisfaction. How? Because you can’t ensure satisfaction if your promised repair time isn’t based on data. And you can’t improve product quality if don’t gather the right metrics on your process.

Flash Global Traceability

Repair partners who offer absolute traceability provide customers with predictability, scalability, increased value, and shorter cycle times, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.

Just as important, traceability helps manufacturers manage increasingly stringent regulatory requirements, particularly in the medical sector, as well as hazardous materials management and responsible recycling.

What are some ways repair services can benefit from better traceability?

How Traceability Factors into the Service Supply Chain

The truth is, servicing repairs with little or no reporting history isn’t going to help much when it comes to budgeting, forecasting or growing your brand, but why put more effort into tracking service repairs?

Adding greater transparency and traceability into your product repair process benefits you and your business by:

  • Improving predictability in your forecasting model so you’re able to more accurately forecast time to process repairs, keeping happy customers happy.
  • Avoiding customer service land mines that could be damaging your brand.
  • Mitigating counterfeiting threats that are becoming increasingly important.
  • Highlighting deeper customer insights that propel future product development and sustained engineering.Did you know the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that medical devices have a device history record documenting the chain of control from birth to death?

Plus, the more units you test, screen, and repair, the more valuable traceable data becomes, but only if the repair process is properly monitored and recorded.

Transparency’s Critical Path in the Medical Devices Industry

A certified medical device record must include information about what software was installed, if it was installed correctly, and when it happened. It must also document repairs — when a part was replaced, what serial number or identifying classification did that part have, etc.

You can probably appreciate why this so important. There’s no room for error. The repair services partner must not only reassemble or configure the final device with 100% accuracy, but also document properly to avoid internal/external investigations, fines, and possible termination of the contract.

Obviously, this is a big deal, but where do you start adding or improving traceability?

Data Collection & Recording: The Heart of Effective Traceability

Effective traceability starts with planning and inventorying key performance, hardware, and service history.

Finding a partner who invests in robust data collection systems matters because repair estimates are only as good as the quality of the data. Here’s a short list of specific data points to collect: Finding a Partner Who Invests Matters

  • Failure code & failure mode that shows what failed and when. Access to reportable failure code and mode outside of production and service events in the field can help confirm trends, quality standards or statements, and give additional details to failure trends that may not be obvious to field services or product build.
  • Time to repair (bench time) helps ensure the benchmark established is on par with expectations.
  • Total cost of repair is an important decision-making metric. Does the unit value justify repair cost? Are process improvements needed or alternative parts for purchase and service?
  • Hardware & software data including serial number and software version. Software updates and patch releases installed should be documented during service.

Test/retest results are important to determine the quality of testing and testing processes. That saves time, money, and increases customer confidence in the product and support.

Instrumentation for Improving Business Performance

From a product development perspective, traceability provides key quality and service metrics that enable you to streamline and highlight opportunities to avoid future repairs.

Metrics used to bolster repair services performance and support business growth include:

  • NTF/NFF (no trouble found/no fault found) – Surfaces opportunities to improve the troubleshooting process before an item is sent to warranty replacement.
  • MTTF (mean time to failure) – Improves parts sourcing and forecasting performance issues. A real key to improving customer satisfaction is forecasting when a part has a likelihood of failing.
  • Number of times through repair – Has the ability to quantify troubleshooting effectiveness, repair/parts quality, and potential improvement in the repair process.
  • Age & time in service until failure – Similar to MTTF, data analysis offers data-driven insights for more proactive service or system monitoring to prevent customer service headaches.
  • Failure trends analysis – Knowing if the number of failures is increasing or decreasing, and why, could help identify potential parts and/or staffing issues and nip them in the bud.
  • DOA/ELF (dead on arrival/early life failure) – Getting ahead of major manufacturing issues is key to maintaining/preserving brand integrity and customer satisfaction. DOA/ELF monitoring helps highlight problems with set-up, quality, installation, and service that could negatively impact customer confidence.

Flash Global Repair Services

These are just a few examples of how traceability can help improve business performance, and your success.

Once systems that collect this data are in place, you’re able to start using the results to make educated business decisions around many aspects of your business, including operating budgets, parts-bin management, product development, growth opportunities, and much more.

The Future of Expecting Higher Product Quality is Now

Product features aren’t the answer for poor product quality and repairs. A United Parcel Service (UPS) customer survey showed that customer expectations are rising across the globe.

In a 2015 survey, 86% of respondents said they expected on-site post-sales service from industrial suppliers. 76% of European companies and 99% of Chinese industrial buyers expect it.

This survey highlights that “the service offered from suppliers has become one of the most critical differentiators between competitors.”

Nice to Meet You

Businesses are better off with service supply partners that bring experience in servicing hardware repairs AND traceability management to the table.

That’s experience that will help you avoid common headaches related to customer service and product development right from the start.

When you get to the point of outsourcing or switching repair services providers, think about measuring them against the following attributes:

  • Real-time data and query access 24/7, and access to custom reports online/on demand by email so you’re always in-the-know.
  • Global service locations near current and potential customers providing faster returns and localized interactions.
  • Total product management with in-network screen, test, and repair handled as a package eliminating potential disruptions in service repair performance.
  • Logistics expertise that reduces transportation costs and handles import/export regulations, duties, and taxes; things you don’t need be keeping you awake at night.
  • Repair lead times of 72 business hours or less mean customer service expectations are met and maintained.
  • Importer and Exporter of Record (IOR/EOR) services that allow you to service customers in foreign locations where you lacked a physical presence, until now.
  • Ability to scale internationally providing services needed from simple screening to complex repairs fitting your budget and growth model.

There are many moving parts factoring into a scalable, reliable, and cost-effective repair services solution. Transparency is one of, if not, the most important components of getting it right.

Are you seeing all the important aspects of your products that come in for repair? If not, one of our Flash Global repair services experts is here to help.

To find out how our repair services can help, fill out the form below. We look forward to helping you grow.

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