‘Remanufacture Your Business Environment’ – Material Handling & Logistics

Apr 08
2013

Be sure to check out my new article entitled ‘Remanufacture Your Business Environment‘ in this month’s Material Handling & Logistics. I look forward to your comments…

You can read the article on page 21 here.

Remanufacturing – A New Business Model for Light-Vehicle OEMs

Mar 04
2013

I wanted to share a recent white paper I prepared for SAE International focusing on the hot topic of remanufacturing in the light vehicle OEM world.

“The combined market value of GM, Ford and Chrysler (the estimated value that is part of Fiat) is less than that of combined value of Deere, PACCAR and Caterpillar, which have only 25% of the annual sales volume of the “Big-3.” GM, nor Ford, which for decades were ranked within the top 25 largest US- based corporations, measured by market capitalization, do not currently even rank within the top 100 corporations.”

Read the article in its entirety here and learn about my proposal to the Big-3 auto OEMs: Remanufactured Products: A New Business Model For Light-Vehicle OEMs

Product Support Financial Value Drivers. 8/10 – Chronological Age of the Product Installed Base

Jan 08
2013

This post is the eighth of ten entries that will discuss product support financial value drivers for solutions supplied by a commercial or military focused capital good Product Support Enterprise [PSE]. The 10 topics that will be discussed are the following:

  1. # of products employed by end-users
  2. End-user product utilization rate
  3. Product failure
  4. Environment in which end users engage the product
  5. Preventive maintenance processes employed
  6. Volatility of product technology
  7. Regulatory requirement
  8. Chronological age of the product installed base
  9. Life cycle stage of the product
  10. Manufacturer’s warranty coverage

The basic premise underlying this Product Support financial value driver is that as an item that is continuously employed in a process gets older, “stuff” may or may not happen to it. The analysis of this area is primarily dominated by the product design/reliability engineering community; this may be good or bad as we delve further in our discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my calculations, all the primary subassemblies of an end-item need to be identified and codified as to falling into one of the six age-related reliability curves. These subassembly categories can be the following, though they are not exhaustive:

  • Sensors (i.e. lasers)
  • Electronics (i.e. computer processor)
  • Electrical (i.e. generator)
  • Mechanical (i.e. gearbox)
  • Hydraulic (i.e. actuator)
  • Hard/soft goods (i.e. filters)
  • Software (i.e. application)
  • Structure (i.e. housing)
  • Others (i.e. outfits, tools)

Once the reliability life cycle curves are identifies as well as the subassembly categories that are part of the end-item configuration, I can then identify how each reliability curve matches-up with the subassembly category.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, the costs of correcting or preventing failure can be estimated using the following methodology:

  • Identify a variable that is closely aligned with the cost of correcting or preventing unplanned failures. The correlation selected for our discussion is that between the value of a subassembly and the cost of its repair; the higher the value of the subassembly, the higher the cost of a repair event
  • Obtain a Cost Estimating Relation [CER] with that of the repair cost of a subassembly type and the value of the item. The use of warranty financial data, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] by every publically-held OEM (i.e. Caterpillar, United Technologies) and their key suppliers, provides a means to establish a CER

    For example, direct and indirect repair costs for electronic components, as a percent of their value, is 2% per year. If the cost of repair is 10% of the component value, then the annual failure rate is 20% of fielded items (2%/10%) based upon a “normal” utilization

Areas such as modifications and remanufacturing/overhaul can reset some of these aging factors. Also the source of design, design-to-order versus off-the-shelf, can impact reliability factors.

Now, for most reliability engineers, my calculations are most likely “foreign”, but I can tell you that leadership can understand my “simple” method of establishing the cost of correcting or preventing failure. Most reliability engineers have “Physics Envy”; they develop formulas that demonstrate that the reliability world is an “orderly place”, just as that is found in the realm of the sciences. But for anyone who has been in the field of reliability, it is at best an inexact science in which one is happy to be accurate in one’s prediction by +/-50% in anyone year, and over the life of an item +/-20% accurate.

Note that reliability engineers struggle to obtain credibility with leadership because they “get into the weeds” almost immediately when discussing reliability; one recommendation to engineers is to translate all that is calculated into financial terms; not always easy to do. Annual costs to prevent or correct failure should always be within the range of 3-6% of the value of an item that is being analyzed; anything above these percentages should be suspect.

From my experience I have seen highly rigorous quantitative analysis performed by an engineer, when converted into financial terms, to be in the 20-25% of the value of the item. Almost always after further analysis, the underlying assumptions of the engineer’s calculation were incorrect and indeed the ultimate outputs resulted in a 3-6% range of the value of the item.

Product Support life cycle financial planning should include scenario-based tools that can analyze the impact of different factors upon reliability in any one period, as well as upon the entire life cycle.

Hypatia©, a Giuntini & Company financial software tool, provides a highly automated means of calculating the above and other product support financial value drivers, as well as an effortless way of being able to change any utilization assumption and immediately understand its impact upon total ownership costs. Hypatia is also a proven, trusted and highly effective tool for assisting in the development of product support business case analysis.

Product Support Financial Value Drivers. 7/10 – Regulatory Requirements

Nov 27
2012

This post is the seventh of ten entries that will discuss product support financial value drivers for solutions supplied by a commercial or military focused capital good Product Support Enterprise [PSE]. The 10 topics that will be discussed are the following:

  1. # of products employed by end-users
  2. End-user product utilization rate
  3. Product failure
  4. Environment in which end users engage the product
  5. Preventive maintenance processes employed
  6. Volatility of product technology
  7. Regulatory requirements
  8. Chronological age of the product installed base
  9. Life cycle stage of the product
  10. Manufacturer’s warranty coverage

As nations become wealthier, there is a drive to mitigate the risks of occurrence of the events that unfavorably impact society – think auto safety, hazardous materials disposition, and many others. As a result, many regulatory actions have been employed by nations and local legislatures. These regulations have had a significant impact upon Product Support financial value driver results.

Product support financial value drivers – regulatory requirements

Let’s start with safety concerns. All industries have regulations that require certain Product Support processes to be employed that either protects the users of equipment, or the outputs of the equipment. Transportation equipment has as extensive amount of time/use/condition based preventive maintenance tasks to avoid any unplanned failure. From brake overhauls for trains, to flight control actuator overhauls for aircraft, very specific maintenance tasks must be performed throughout the life of the equipment; in most cases the ability to operate a piece of equipment requires that the OEM has obtained approval by a regulatory body for a detailed preventive maintenance schedule. These requirements can often drive 20-40% of the Product Support life cycle costs.

Another area of regulation driving costs is one that continues to expand every year; maintenance activities that avoid unfavorable environmental events. For example, the preventive overhaul of a valve in order to avoid failure resulting in a hazardous material spill, or the inspection of a structure for corrosion that could result in equipment releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere. This area is specifically costly in the process industries of chemicals, oil and power generation.

In certain cases, regulatory requirements have a strange impact on Product Support costs. A case in point is in Japan and the insurance of automobiles where in order to generate demand for new cars, the Japanese government has mandated that insurance rates increase based upon the age of a vehicle. Upon a car approaching 10 years old, the insurance rates are so high that it “pays”  to get rid of the car (they leave Japan for  less developed countries) and purchase a new car. This regulation has a major impact upon the Product Support financial value driver solutions for older vehicles; there is none!

Recent changes to the fuels employed to operate equipment has created unintended impacts upon Product Support maintenance; some have decreased the frequency of unplanned failures, but others have significantly changed the frequency of preventive maintenance tasks; think bio-fuels for commercial truck engines.

The disposition of Product Support parts that are deemed hazardous materials can also increase costs; sometimes the cost of disposition is more expensive than the acquisition of the part. This is often true of certain consumables such of filters, lubricants, and others.

Product support financial value drivers – regulatory requirements

One of the Product Support financial value cost challenges is that there are many different regulations throughout the globe requiring different Product Support processes to be employed. For many global organizations, where equipment is transported to many sites, think oil drilling equipment, Product Support processes are often employed that meet the most demanding regulations of any nation that the equipment can be employed. This is done in order to be flexible in aligning demand and supply of equipment on a global basis. For example if ExxonMobil has to move equipment from Nigeria to the USA, even though Nigeria may have less demanding Product Support regulations, the Nigerian equipment is maintained to USA standards so that if demand shifts to the USA, the equipment doesn’t have to be reset to use in the USA.

All the above cases of regulatory requirements are always driven by optimizing equipment cost and minimizing its unfavorable impacts on society. Product Support costs, which constitute the plurality of Total Ownership Costs for most equipment types, will remain a primary “victim” of many of these regulations.

Product Support life cycle financial planning must include scenario-based tools that can analyze the impact of different regulatory changes upon the short-term and long-term TOC.

Hypatia©, a Giuntini & Company financial software tool, provides a highly automated means of calculating the above and other product support financial value drivers, as well as an effortless way of being able to change any utilization assumption and immediately understand its impact upon total ownership costs. Hypatia is also a proven, trusted and highly effective tool for assisting in the development of product support business case analysis.

Product Support Financial Value Drivers. 6/10 – Volatility of Product Technology

Nov 04
2012

This post is the sixth of ten entries that will discuss product support financial value drivers for solutions supplied by a commercial or military focused capital good Product Support Enterprise [PSE]. The 10 topics that will be discussed are the following:

  1. # of products employed by end-users
  2. End-user product utilization rate
  3. Product failure
  4. Environment in which end users engage the product
  5. Preventive maintenance processes employed
  6. Volatility of product technology
  7. Regulatory requirements
  8. Chronological age of the product installed base
  9. Life cycle stage of the product
  10. Manufacturer’s warranty coverage

Product Support Financial Value Drivers

The current business model for OEMs is to seek a problem being encountered by an organization and to configure a hardware/software solution that affordably and effectively addresses a resolution to the problem. For example, a warfighter requires, within a 6-month period, a communication system that can access satellite transmissions on-the-move for a period of 20 years. The OEM awarded the contract chooses to employ a suite of bleeding-edge Commercial Off The Shelf [COTS] items and integrates all the pieces into a Design-To-Order solution. Great; the warfighter gets their solution quickly and the OEM can “call it a day.” But now comes the fun part. The Product Support Strategy [PSS] for this COTS-based solution must employ a process that modifies the configuration of the solution based upon future Diminishing Manufacturing Sources Material Shortages [DMSMS] challenges; what is currently bleeding-edge, will most probably have a cold commercial supply chain within 3-4 years.

Understanding how the source-of-design impacts Total Ownership Cost [TOC] is often not fully understood. An OEM’s employment of COTS items enables access to a hot supply chain in which development costs have been amortized by the manufacturer; item acquisition costs can often be 30-50% less than that of a developmental item with the same capabilities. Also note that the reliability of a COTS item can be 3-4 fold higher than that of a developmental item. All-in-all the production costs of a COTS-centric solution is financially attractive, but Product Support life cycle costs can be significant enough to offset the production savings.

For example, if a COTS item is to be modified, due to DMSMS issues every 4 years and there is a planned 20 year product life, that indicates that 4 to 5 modifications will have be performed during the period that the solution is in inventory. Note that upon the insertion of these modifications, capabilities enhancements may occur, but that is strictly a by-product of the activity.

From personal financial analytics experience working on many systems, I have in almost all situations observed that DMSMS-driven modification costs can constitute the number one or two ranked Product Support cost driver. Remember that Product Support constitutes a plurality of TOC, thus modifications to COTS-centric solutions are often within the top ten cost drivers of TOC.

Product Support Financial Value Drivers

Other issues to be considered that will impact financial performance due to technology volatility, is how the modification process will be performed. There are several alternatives (this is not an all inclusive listing), each with their own cost drivers:

  • Block-mod in which all end-items are inducted into the modification process at a depot within a short period of time
  • Block-mod in which all end-items are inducted into the modification process in the field via an exchange program, within a short period of time
  • Modify-as-failed in which reparable items, when inducted in a repair process, will also be modified
  • Modify-bundled-with-other in which an end-item when inducted into a process such as reset, overhaul or other end-item process, the modification will be employed when the end-item has been disassembled; logic is that as long as the end-item is apart, there is no additional labor required for installing the modification.

Each of the above impacts technician labor costs to remove and replace, transportation costs, facility costs, indirect personnel costs and many other costs. Also note that each alternative will impact Materiel Availability [Am].

Any financial analytics of the Product Support life cycle must include a rigorous review of modification expenditures regardless of the “color of money.” Technology volatility provides many challenges, but with insightful life cycle planning unfavorable performance risks can be mitigated.

Hypatia©, a Giuntini & Company financial software tool, provides a highly automated means of calculating the above and other product support financial value drivers, as well as an effortless way of being able to change any utilization assumption and immediately understand its impact upon total ownership costs. Hypatia is also a proven, trusted and highly effective tool for assisting in the development of product support business case analysis.

Pricing Product Support Parts for Clueless OEMs

Sep 14
2012

Pricing Product Support parts continues to be an area in which many OEMs struggle.

A 2011 Defense Department’s Inspector General  report accused Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. a unit of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. (UTX) of overcharging the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command’s Corpus Christi, Texas Depot  for 28 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter Product Support parts, including $2,393.41 for a plastic wiring box cover worth $181.70.

Most OEMs continue to employ the following, dated method to pricing Product Support parts:

1. This is my cost.

2. This is the profit I have to make.

3. Therefore, this is the price I charge the customer.

Overly simplistic, and frankly, quite archaic.

Archaic Pricing Product Support models…

Earlier in my career, I ran an OEM’s (Falcon Jet) Product Support parts business unit for 10 years and my predecessor employed the cost-plus approach above. Customers were always screaming about $10 bolts, which met demanding aerospace specifications and were produced in small lots, but which a mechanic would perceive should only cost $1…because that is what you would pay at Sears.

Here is the funny part - a proprietary flight control actuator priced at $13,451 would have no pushback on price; the mechanic had no reference point to compare prices.

One day I decided to be very “clever” about pricing. I identified about 2,000 parts that “appeared” overpriced by our customers. Regardless of their cost, I brought them all down to $1. I then calculated my “loss” and increased the price of my proprietary items by the “loss” incurred, keeping my bottom line the same. Our customers were very happy that their concerns were acted upon…and there was no reaction to the higher prices on the proprietary parts.

Lesson learned: When an OEM stays with an illogical and rote Product Support parts pricing policy of cost-plus, their customers will be vocal about their disatisfaction. However, if you are clever, you can make your customers happy and still make the same profit. Voila!

Learn more about dynamic Product Support parts pricing models at www.giuntinicompany.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital Goods OEM Warranty Costs Have Fallen By 20% Over The Last 8 Years

Sep 11
2012

 

Capital Goods OEM Warranty Costs Have Fallen By 20% Over The Last 8 Years

 

Overall annual warranty costs, as a % of sales revenue has been steadily declining. In 2003 warranty costs comprised about 1.8% of revenues for OEMs and last year it dropped to 1.4% or a 20% decline. This trend is positively impacting the end-users Total Ownership Cost [TOC] as products become more reliable and require less failure-driven maintenance.

Visit www.giuntinicompany.com for product support best practices.

DoD Has No Idea How Much It Has Invested In Product Support Parts

Sep 09
2012

The DoD’s auditor has reported material financial management weaknesses in the following areas:  Financial Management Systems, for Inventory, Equipment, Government-Furnished parts and Contractor-Acquired parts. In other words, the DoD doesn’t really know what and how much it has in its possession.

In 2005, the DoD issued its Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) Plan  to define the Department’s strategy and methodology for improving financial management operations and controls, and reporting its progress to Congress…and Congress still awaits auditors to sign-off that the DoD is currently compliant.

Not the most effective strategy, eh?

A few years back we performed an extensive analysis of the inventory investment for an ACAT I Army weapon system that had been continually fielded over a 15 year period. We were told repeatedly by Army leadership that Class IX parts were balanced with demand…were they ever wrong!! Upon the conclusion of our study, 90% of the parts supply was classified as obsolete or excess…and I can tell you this poor Supply Chain Management of Product Support parts is common across all Services today. DoD has an estimated $90B of Class IX parts in inventory and my guess is that 30% is obsolete or excess…

Changes Are A Comin’ to DoD Contractor Product Support

Aug 10
2010

The U.S. Department of Defense is the biggest purchaser of Product Support expenditures in the world; it annually buys an estimated $50 billion dollars worth of such goods and services.

The last ten years has proven to be an especially favorable period for military contractors; overall DoD spending has increased from $300 billion per year to $700 billion, or 130%, and America now employs nearly half of all global military resources.  It is estimated that Contractor Product Support expenditures rose at a 150% to 200% rate during the ten year period.

As a result of the large build-up in DoD expenditures, the US currently generates 50% of the global military expenditures, but the US economy only generates 25% of the global economic output…this imbalance will most likely be realigned back to a historical ratio of 1:1 between the US economic output and defense spending.  

When many contractors have only one customer that matters financially, options are limited as to generating additional sources of revenues to compensate for lost Product Support revenues.

Even the biggest military contractors claim less than five percent of the Pentagon’s budget, so a contractor’s fortunes is influenced more by how defense dollars are spent than by the size of the budget. For example, contractor revenues can decrease, even when military spending remains high, if money migrates out of weapon system acquisition and into uniformed and civilian manpower.

Below are some of the primary trends driving down Contractor Product Support expenditures:

  1. Reduction in overall weapon system OPTEMPO due to the scaling back the size of the US military deployment in SW Asia. With an estimated 25% of all weapon systems in theatre and their OPTEMPO an estimated 100% higher than those systems not in theatre, it is estimated that overall Product Support expenditures will decrease by 15%-20%, with contractors experiencing an estimated 20%-30% drop in Product Support revenues
  2. The current fiscal challenges of the Federal Government to finance all their budgeted programs will most likely result in the military being a “victim” of fiscal austerity. It is quite feasible that 15-20% of DoD weapon system inventories will be stored long-term in order to reduce Product Support expenditures. Given the US Congress and the power of the depot-lobby, many of the systems stored will be those currently primarily supported by contractors
  3. The emphasis that Secretary Gates has put on “rebalancing” the defense strategy. Rebalancing means putting less emphasis on conventional, industrial-age warfare, and more emphasis on non-traditional skills like counter-insurgency warfare; this strategy will reduce complex weapon systems that require a complex Product Support Enterprise. There will be more an emphasis upon COTS items being integrated into a solution for the warfighter. COTS Product Support expenditures are often materially less than that of Developmental Items, thus resulting in overall lower Product Support expenditures
  4. The move to “in-source” Product Support management jobs previously contracted out to industry by the Program Offices and Life Cycle Management Commands. The Government is actively recruiting “seasoned” professional from contractors; either the professionals join the Government or they lose their job.

Each of the major weapon system contractors will be encountering different Product Support issues:

  • Northrop Grumman (NG) has decided to remain primarily focused upon new weapon system deliveries. It recently sold its services unit, TASC, due to conflicts between its OEM business and its Product Support business. This was a major policy change for NG
  • General Dynamics (GD) has generated material Product Support revenues from Interim Contractor Support (ICS) programs for the communication communities, especially for weapon systems in theatre; a GD Contractor Field Service Representative (CFSR) in theatre generates almost $500,000 per year of revenue. Supplemental funds have been an engine of growth for GD Product Support programs; this will be going away sooner, rather than later
  • Raytheon is less exposed than other primary OEMs due to the nature of their products being electronics; Product Support expenditures, at least at the organizational maintenance level, is much smaller than that of weapon systems that have more mechanical parts
  • Lockheed Martin (LM) will encounter many challenges in the Product Support area. The company needs to generate $130 million in new sales every day just to stay where it is, and that won’t be easy in a down market for Product Support.

There will be many challenges in the area of DoD Product Support over the next few years. Adding value to DoD, rather than filling positions to perform routine Product Support tasks, will differentiate winners from losers. And let us not forget that Outcome Based Product Support programs will be the rule rather than the exception for all future Product Support contractor offerings; that will be the only way that DoD will be able to manage Product Support processes more effectively for less costs.

For a more detailed discussion on the above topic, review the recent conference discussions at the Lexington Institute.

Don’t Always Trust Product Support Enterprise Financial Data

Jul 23
2010

Recently General Motors (GM) reported their 2009 new-condition light vehicle sales warranty expenditures. In calculating the warranty expense per vehicle sold, the results were $357. Utilizing this per vehicle cost in calculating the average price per vehicle sold to the dealer network, this would indicate that GM sold each of their vehicles at an average price of $14,300…appears to be a very low number relative to all its major competitors…and common sense.

With US sales about 35% of GM’s overall unit sales and the average US vehicle sold to dealers at around $23,000, GM is implicitly indicating that the average price of the remaining light vehicles sold in the EU and Asia would be about $9,000 each…not likely. The warranty expenditures have a material impact on overall earnings for GM, thus this “cost conflict” is important.

It may be that GM, currently controlled by the Federal Government is applying “creative” financial accounting, similar to that of the Federal Government has been employing for decades…but that is another story.

Lesson Learned: When performing financial analysis of a Product Support Enterprise (PSE), warranty is an OEM’s cost incurred by the PSE, always validate the results by employing a secondary calculation for at least a selected group of costs that are material….a bit more work, but important in delivering accurate results.

info@giuntinicompany.com

Tel: 570-713-4795