The term Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) has been going around for many years and it is term that has different meaning to different people. Unlike mature enterprise systems (or philosophies) such as PLM, ERP, and CRM, SLM seems to be finding its definition. In fact the term Service Lifecycle Management is not yet defined in Wikipedia.
Similar to these other strategic business approaches, SLM is a philosophy that encompasses many components, areas, and domains with regards to providing service and maintenance of assets. In an attempt to simplify this I will break it into two areas, Planning and Operations
Operations is typically a domain of transactional systems such as ERP where the management of financials, billings, inventory, and labor is the primary goal of the owner-operator of the equipment. However the OEMs need to plan for the safe operation of the equipment that they provide and this is directly related to the PLM information for product planning.
This planning starts right from the initial concept of a new product where the engineers need to build a product based on:
Expected Operation –“How the product will be operated” i.e. duration, environment, life
Reliability – “How reliable does it need to be” i.e. fix when breaks, safety critical, mandatory uptime, performance contracts
Availability – “When will the asset be available for the repair” i.e. service intervals, break fix, shutdown
Maintainability – “How will the technician do the repair” i.e. easy fixes for common replacement parts.
These areas of planning become the critical factors in the design of the product defining:
Which supplier to use?
How to design access to the areas of common work?
What parts need to be identified and tracked?
What parts were built from which design and how?
Can we allow substitute parts? Where and when?
What do we need to measure, track, or where to add sensors?
This is why risk and quality analysis, content management, and service planning are part of a strategic PLM platform. The integration of SLM into PLM allows the service organization to ensure they are aligned with the authorized parts lists defined by engineering. This ensures the safety and compliance of the assets in production and allows the service organizations to take advantage of the configuration management principles employed by PLM.
Management of As-Maintained structures in PLM ensures operations can continuously validate that the fielded assets are up to date with the allowed parts reducing the onerous task of configuration management on complex equipment. When critical changes occur to components in on the authorized parts list, service planners can identify where these components are installed in the field so that specific fixes and replacements to only affect components can be done saving money on expensive unnecessary repairs.
Finally, the product performance feedback is critical to an OEM to understand how components are operating, when they are failing, what configurations they are failing on, how often they fail, and what conditions they are failing under. Without this feedback the OEM cannot be effective in continual product improvement, profitable service contracts, supplier performance, and long term customer satisfaction thereby undermining the long term viability of the product line.
The incorporation of SLM into the greater PLM strategy for an OEM ensures that service is kept in the forefront of product development, delivery, and support improving the profitability of service contracts, and enabling customers to get the most value for their investment across the lifecycle.