Rolls Royce’s Andy Harrison has been playing a pivotal role in the Through Life Engineering Services Centre’s work in putting together a blueprint for how organisations can establish advanced services capabilities – a topic he recently discussed at this year’s Spring Servitization Conference. Kris Oldland sat down with him to find out more…
When the topic of servitization comes up it is usually only a matter of time before Rolls Royce and Power by the Hour is mentioned. Indeed, Rolls Royce alongside a select number of other organisations such as Caterpillar and Alstom have essentially become the de-facto poster boys for all things advanced services.
Who better then, to lead a multi-organisation committee created to help distil the complexities of servitization into a meaningful framework than one of one of their key service executives, Andy Harrison, Engineering Associate Fellow – life cycle engineering?
But what exactly is the Through Life Engineering Services Centre, which Harrison heads up?
“For a number of years here in the UK we have had a group of companies get together around through life engineering services. In essence, a sort of working club made up of people working in the services space and in particular services around complex long-life engineered products,” he explains.
“For a number of years, we had struggled to get a framework diagram around what we meant by that this particular space. Then in mid-2016 the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing Through Life Engineering Services, which was run out of Cranfield and Durham Universities, issued a strategy paper which called for the creation of a national council – something we have subsequently created.”
So what is the key function of this council?
One of the challenges we have taken on has been to develop a relatively simple explanation of what exactly through life engineering services are
“In addition to this, we have also moved onto tackling the question of what a national educational program within this area would look like. If we wanted our engineering graduates to arrive at the doors of organisations already understanding the value of through life support, which we think is 16% + of GDP, then what would that involve?”
It’s an ambitious project, but one that is absolutely critical as we see economies both in the UK and beyond become increasingly more service-centric and Harrison has played an integral role in fulfilling the council’s vision, which is now coming together at pace.
“I’ve led the working group that has put that framework diagram and the education program that goes around it. That is in the process of being embodied into a publicly available specification by the British Standards Institute and it is due for publication sometime very soon,” he comments.
“Essentially what we’ve got is a framework diagram that outlines the topics that make up this thing called Though Life Service, then dividing those topics into further subheadings with information and direction as to what a company would need to know to understand each of those sub-headings.”
In fact, one of the highlights of The Spring Servitization Conference, held this year in Copenhagen, was when Harrison very eloquently and concisely walked the attendees through this framework.
“Basically, the framework diagram is essentially setting the scene when we talk about this space,” Harrison explains.
It’s a way of thinking about the big picture and breaking it out into commonly described terms so that when the industry practitioners review the academic material they have a frame of reference
This is a huge part of the discussion that needs to come to the fore if the worlds of academia and industry are to fully align around the concept and strategies of servitization – a common language is essential. This is also why the bringing together of a number of different companies from disparate sectors to work on this project alongside Harrison and his team at Rolls Royce is also imperative.
“The fundamentally important part of this is that if you let any one organisation try to write this they would do it in their own language in their own context. It might work for them but it is unlikely to work for a broad range of companies,” Harrison explains.
We have deliberately forced ourselves to argue how to get this down to a small number of items
Within the framework itself, the group has essentially identified three core areas of activity.
“Firstly, there is the business context where the sub-elements are all centred around if and how you understand your customers. Can you identify with them the value opportunities are – and this can be either getting more work out of a machine or spending less money obtaining that work,” Harrison begins.
“Do you have the organisational set up to deliver these benefits and do your customers have the right set up to receive those benefits? Do you have all of the underpinning capabilities that are required such as the consumable elements you need to deliver this level of service – for example, can you model x and predict y? Can you gather the data required? Do those things exist and do you have them within your organisation? We then have to consider what are the service value streams that you have to offer? We divide that up into four streams which are avoid, contain, recover and convert.”
The road to servitization is challenging and the journey for every company of course slightly different reflecting the unique needs, processes and goals an organisation may face
“The final dimension is the basic life-cycle of the product and the service which talks about the need for planning throughout the life-cycle, the creation process of your products and service, standing up ready for operation, the operational activity of making the products and delivering the support service and eventually the retirement phase of the downturn of the supply chain, the de-commissioning of assets and the eventual retirement of the entire of service offering around them.”
The road to servitization is challenging and the journey for every company of course slightly different reflecting the unique needs, processes and goals an organisation may face.
However, the framework Harrison and his peers have put in place does an excellent job of signposting the way, to help companies navigate the path successfully.
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