A technician who repairs an appliance at a private home is the visible part of the after-sales service chain, but there are many other links in the chain that are often forgotten. The FSM, the digitalisation of customer relations or invoicing are the most frequently analysed subjects. However, there is an essential piece of the puzzle, the spare part without which a device cannot be repaired. Agoragroup analyses the challenges of spare parts through a series of articles on the nomenclature and logistics of the part.

Spare parts at the heart of the after-sales service

The success of a repair is based on 3 dimensions:

  • Technical: identifying the right spare part
  • Logistics: anticipate the receipt of the spare part for the day of the repair
  • Human: managing the technician’s schedule to carry out the repair

The suitability and availability of the spare part is the first cog in the repair process and its absence renders the device irreparable. If this seems obvious, the work involved in digitising this information is colossal. Agoraplus is the only tool on the market that allows the repairer to access data updated by the manufacturers in order to identify and order the replacement part.

Spare parts replacement programs

The lifespan of a product, approximately ten years, is much longer than the frequency with which technological innovations appear. The original part used to design a device becomes obsolete over time, replaced by more efficient or less expensive solutions. Replacement parts are gradually being used to repair. Thus, a component can have up to 6 generations. Replacement programs are long and complex to set up. In Agoraplus, for example, there are 8 million references of spare parts for 3 million finished products. It is estimated that around 100 people work on maintaining this database in addition to those who manage the exchange of information between a manufacturer, a repairer and a wholesaler. The major challenge is to maintain a pool of parts while anticipating future replacement.

Complex management for all players involved

Replacement is complicated by the need to maintain a history of part compatibility. Indeed, once the manufacturer’s stock is exhausted, he can easily change references. Existing stocks at repairers must remain usable. The creation of the re-use part branch will add a new dimension. Between the different dynamics of used parts, replacement parts and 3D printing, the management of a sufficient stock of these different sources will again transform the sector, as the balance between a sufficient stock and the integration of new replacement parts requires a perpetual adaptation of the sector. Of course, the issue depends on the type of technology and the industry, between the automobile, the smartphone and the household appliances the modalities are different. The challenges are multiplied for the management of software on electronic boards, which is also necessary to maintain compatibility.

The contribution of digitalisation

The implementation of software dedicated to the problem has become widespread in recent years. Known as PLM for Product Life Management, these tools are often integrated with design tools. However, the widespread use of component manufacturers requires a more collaborative approach and community work. A technology platform automates replacement programmes with information shared by all parties. These activities, which began in the automotive and aerospace industries in the late 1990s, are now widespread among consumer goods manufacturers. Nevertheless, we note that these communities remain very vertical, with little exchange between the players on the general issues of their profession.

The driving role of Agoragroup

In keeping with our desire to bring the sector together, Agoragroup is launching a series of articles on all the sometimes little-known dimensions of after-sales service. We want to launch constructive debates on these subjects, which are often considered too specific. More and more players have spare parts management needs, a crucial factor for the durability of their product, and we provide them with our know-how. This approach is also part of our responsible and committed vision to preserve our resources. Easy access to replacement parts reduces waste. The right to repair is also becoming a societal issue that directly concerns the consumer. We can note an awareness at several levels and many players now contact us to help them in a better management of the spare part.