The Problem with OEMs

Assured Reliability – Healthy Assets – Reduced Risks


The Problem with (some?) Original Equipment Manufacturers and their Maintenance Manuals


Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) gain revenue in two elements of business activity, these being.

  1. Sale of Equipment – This is where the OEM proposes an equipment solution to meet a customer specification or need. This is often conducted in a competitive bid environment such as formal Quotations or Tendering for Supply. Margins are low and it is a one-off transaction.
  2. Supply of ongoing Pans and/or Servicing – This is where the OEM gains an ongoing and higher margin revenue stream The OEM business drivers are to supply more parts and labour to the equipment owners to “ensure” the continuing reliability of the supplied equipment An OEM Maintenance Manual will often be authored with this in mind. It will contain a combination of essential tasks for equipment care and time-based replacement tasks.

    We now know from four studies, including Nowlan & Heap, and the subsequent years of industrial experience that this is not always the best approach. However; it is rare that an OEM Manual will include Condition Based Maintenance tasks as this will quite possibly compromise the parts and labour revenue stream!

  3. Generic Operating Environment – Looking at the reasons why equipment may suffer Early Life failures, a significant proportion of these are related to the operating context and environment we place the equipment in Changes in operating context and environment will change the reliability performance characteristics of the equipment. Like for like equipment will perform differently in different environments.

    An OEM cannot possibly cover all variations of the operating context and environment in the Maintenance Manual, so Will usually author the manual from a generic or common application perspective.

While we do need to take cognisance of the OEM Manuals to ensure the essential care steps are taken and warranty integrity is retained; a systematic approach to the application of Condition Based Maintenance allows us to challenge the OEM recommendations and either supplement or supersede the OEM Maintenance Manual Tasks with effective tasks more aligned with our specific business needs, operating context and environment.

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Paul Hilford

Asset Management & Equipment Reliability Consultant