By Franco Migliorati and Bert van Willigen
What is an O&M solution?
Modern automated sortation systems can be complex and can take a certain level of expertise before CEP operators can achieve the optimal system performance with the greatest availability.
For traditional CEP companies such as postal public postal houses, it was commonplace to develop their own operations and maintenance departments in parallel with the development of their sortation equipment. As state postal organisations became increasingly mechanised, they had to ensure they could be robust and independent, with their own engineers on site.
As the CEP industry became more competitive, some CEP companies started to question whether it would be more cost-effective to outsource their O&M work. Perhaps by relying on external O&M support, they would gain increased flexibility and the right knowledge and skill sets to optimise their system performance.
The promise of an O&M solution
An external O&M solution (or a residential service) is how a CEP company can completely unburden itself of its O&M requirements.
A residential service makes sure the system or the technology used by the operator delivers the required functionality for a defined period against a defined cost. The ultimate promise of residential services is that the supplier of the services ensures the CEP operator can keep its commitments to its end customers against a reasonable cost. Every day of the year. Year after year.
O&M solutions become increasingly remote but always available
While residential services have traditionally been deployed on site, we are seeing the development of more remote services. With data-driven preventative and predictive maintenance, system breakdowns are becoming less frequent. It is even possible to run processes well without having an engineer onsite or with a limited ‘partial residential service’ setup, particularly after the residential services team has trained the customer staff.
Why choose an O&M solution?
In engaging residential services, CEP operators can gain significant advantages which may explain why many operators are increasingly looking externally for their O&M solutions. We look at the advantages in turn.
Firstly, externally-operated residential services are often more cost-effective O&M solutions than “own” O&M departments within the CEP business.
The needs of each CEP business are not always the same. One business may not always need 100 percent system performance; it may be that for 80 percent of the year, it can manage its operations with less. External residential services are able to provide just the right amount of service the operator needs and not over-service it. In some cases, it can also scale up and down in accordance with the operator’s requirements over the year.
Greater flexibility and a larger pool of support
Residential service teams can also offer greater flexibility and availability. If one of its team members falls ill, it’s easier to secure contingency with residential service teams than with your own staff.
Conversely, contingency planning can be difficult for CEP businesses with in-house teams, as the teams are limited in resources, in the variety of services they deliver and around-the-clock availability.
Industry knowledge and expertise
A significant advantage of engaging residential services is the industry-wide knowledge they bring. O&M providers have many O&M contracts all over the world, so have easy access to in-depth knowledge from a skilled global workforce – from first, second and third-line experts. Access to these experienced professionals also exposes the CEP operator to potential opportunities and innovations in the industry.