Predicting functional product availability and cost through a simulation driven approach

Abstract: New business models, which adhere to new customer values and demands with more service content, call for a closer look at the offered product concepts. One promising methodology is the Functional Product, a total care solution, in which function is guaranteed to a specified level of availability. When guaranteeing function, it is not an option to rely on the assumption that the hardware components will work throughout the whole contract period. For the provider of such a function, predictions of what level of availability can be provided are important, especially over longer periods of time, and a data-driven approach is needed to verify that contracts can be upheld and to what cost. It has been identified that to successfully provide a Functional Product the service support system should be developed as an integrated part of the Functional Product. The success of a functional product ultimately depends on how well the customer values can be fulfilled. Diverse fields such as development, marketing, after-sales, and maintenance, strategy and customer relations must collaborate to identify investment opportunities and system bottlenecks. A holistic perspective can be difficult to grasp, both for an individual and a group of people. To manage this challenge, prediction and analysis tools which encompass the customer situation as well as the constituents of the functional product are needed. Such tools enable rational decision-making by quantifying the value and the risk of investments and reallocation of resources, and should be facilitated by the use of modelling, simulation, knowledge and information management systems. It is demonstrated how collected data from interviews and records can be used to design a support system model in order to predict the service completion time for the support system. The constituents needed to produce a system availability measurement are outlined in a framework of how they are connected in terms of information flow. To enable analysis of the function which adheres to the customer value and asserts information on availability provision, the development of simulation software which takes into account the integrated constituents of a functional product is described. A decision support tool is created, based on the integrated model, initially focusing on the support system, availability and impact of travel times between support locations and customer. How the model can be utilized in the analysis of a real industrial system is demonstrated. Based on continuous meetings and discussions with industrial partners, an improved version of the software which is closer to a total cost prediction tool is also demonstrated, including elements such as personnel, contracts, travel times, periodic maintenance and hardware degradation.