Managing Content in the Service & Support Chain

New offering from Enigma lets capital equipment operators manage maintenance documentation

Burlington, MA  January 7, 2002  Enigma, a provider of solutions for the service and support chain, today unveiled software that allows operators of capital equipment to manage maintenance and repair information from a variety of vendors.

Enigma says its Component Information System (CIS) streamlines the support chain by unifying into a single application all the technical information associated with various pieces of equipment, including operation and maintenance manuals, service bulletins, illustrated parts catalogs and operator defined best practices.

CIS is an extension of Enigma's existing 3C Platform, which allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bundle all the necessary maintenance information for a particular component or piece of equipment into a single application they can provide to their operator customers. The 3C system enables service staff to search electronic databases for necessary maintenance information, including through wireless devices, rather than having to wade through multiple paper manuals, bulletins and catalogs.

Operators have also been able to use the 3C Platform to manage the data provided by Enigma's OEM customers and to add their own best practices to the data for specific components or pieces of equipment.

The problem facing operators in such industries as the airlines or oil and gas, according to John Snow, a vice president at Enigma, is that frequently they receive numerous maintenance manuals and updates for various components from multiple manufactures and other suppliers each year, and only some fraction, if any, of those manuals and updates came from an Enigma OEM customer. In fact, Enigma says that 95 percent of this documentation is only available in the form of paper or static electronic formats like Adobe's portable document format (PDF).

As a result, operators must invest resources in normalizing, aggregating, integrating and updating the documentation, while maintenance technicians frequently spend more than 20 percent of their working time looking for information.

The CIS offering will allow the operators to address this issue by helping them to aggregate all the incoming maintenance information for any system or piece of equipment into a unified, searchable knowledge base that can then be made available to service personnel and updated as needed, regardless of the format in which the OEM delivers the documentation and bulletins. "The Component Information Systems allows operators to take hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of different maintenance manuals from hundreds of different vendors and combine all that information into one information application," Snow said.

Snow said that by using the system, operators can cut down the time it takes for technicians to find the information they need to maintain equipment, resulting in reductions in maintenance times, downtimes for equipment and instances of recurring faults due to improper maintenance. A facility for ordering parts through the system can reduce procurement times and improve order accuracy, too, according to Snow. The system also allows operators to add their best practices to the documentation and then disseminate those best practices throughout their various facilities.

As an example of the potential return on investment, Snow cited a Japanese automaker using the 3C Platform that had seen a 14 percent increase in first-time repairs and a 25 percent increase in the speed with which maintenance technicians are able to find the information they need to repair equipment.

The information aggregation process could be labor-intensive, Snow admitted. While many suppliers provide data in electronic format that can easily be integrated into the system, an operator might have to scan in hard copies of some documentation and perform optical character recognition on the scans to import the data. On the plus side, Snow said that information issued in paper form typically is not being revised frequently and therefore would not have to be continually rescanned into the system.

A typical CIS implementation would range between $200,000 and $500,000 to start at an operator, Snow said, with the factors influencing the cost including the state of documentation (whether it is paper or electronic form, for instance) and the amount of documentation, as well as the degree of integration necessary with back-end systems. A follow-on expansion of the initial implementation could range up to $1 million or $2 million.

The new offering could find a willing and ready customer bases. Recent research from technology consultancy Delphi Group on the market for content management software revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents viewed the ability to manage compound documents and their component content chunks as a necessary or highly valuable function. Almost all the remaining respondents said that it was at least desirable. However, although managing compound documents is highly valued, only 21 percent of respondents actually had this ability.

"Enigma's Component Information System (CIS) will help satisfy the requirement for managing compound documents and content components, which has been requested by 95 percent of the content management software market," said Larry Hawes, senior advisor for Delphi Group.

Enigma is running a couple pilot projects with CIS, including one in aerospace and another in the oil and gas industry, Snow said.