Entercoms, a provider of solutions for aftermarket and post-sales service supply chains, recently was issued US Patent No. 10,262,297 entitled “Part Chain Management in an Aftermarket Services Industry” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The official issue date was April 16. The patent is available to view at patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/index.html.
Customers increasingly expect manufacturers to support their products over their entire useful life, far beyond the end of the manufacturing run. The ability to use part substitutes is key to ensuring life cycle support. The manufacturer must be able to maintain part chain relationships—logical relationships between substitute service parts—across multiple product generations in order to effectively provide service and support over the entire product life cycle.
If part substitution relationships are not maintained or used optimally, companies risk building excess inventory of the wrong spare parts and expose themselves to missing customer service level agreements, which negatively impacts working capital, warranty reserves and customer loyalty. For instance, if the company cannot find an effective service part substitute to fulfill a support request, it may have to upgrade the customer to a new product, which can be very expensive.
With patented technology, Entercoms says it can optimize the supply of substitute spare parts by creating complete part substitutional relationships directly from raw information contained in Engineering Data Management systems. Using graph theory-based algorithms, it can infer one-way and two-way substitutions that may not be readily apparent, then discover and automatically fix any substitution conflicts.
Further, it can analyze substitution information to generate optimized part chain sequences so that the right parts can be procured and used to fill service needs, Entercoms said.
“We live in a service economy where an ever-increasing percentage of revenues and profits of companies come from products that customers already own,” said Dr. Rahul Singh, CEO and co-founder of Entercoms.
“This patent highlights key data modeling capabilities that will be needed for companies to increase customer satisfaction while reducing their total cost of service, which shows our commitment to helping our clients optimize their service and spare parts supply chains through analytics.”