Andrea Capello is Head of Parts BU at Ariston Thermo Group. He spoke to Field Service News’ Deputy Editor Mark Glover to discuss the issues of non-genuine parts and the importance of an accurate stock-inventory.

Spare parts are the lifeblood of the service industry; seen as mini-assets themselves and essential to the heavy asset they form, it’s no surprise that companies invest time and money into the cataloguing and care of such elements. “When we think about spare parts, I have in mind two common themes,” says Andrea Capello, Head of Parts BU at Ariston Thermo Group, the Italian firm that produce thermic comfort products for commercial and industrial use. “One is related to maintenance and the other related to repair.” In both, it is important to be fast and to be reactive to customer demand.”

To do so, a balance between maintenance and repair components is essential, although some technicians can skew levels, stocking only repair parts to uphold first-time fix rates. “In our business, we should not accept this,” Capello says earnestly. “Maintenance is fundamental in order to keep our products working properly. The challenge is to have a clear understanding of stock-balance. Which means understanding what stock you must keep and where you keep it. Only then, can you be fast and responsive to the customer.”

Another challenge facing the sector is the increasingly common amount of non-genuine parts. Capello tells me that repairing or maintaining products with sub-standard components can compromise customer safety, the integrity of finished goods and risks reputational damage. But what can be done? “Managing your installed park is important,” he explains. “You can also prevent it by communicating clearly with the installer or by working with a direct service.”

I’m keen to enquire about innovation in the spare parts management, in particular, new technologies such as connectivity and predictive maintenance, the very nature of which lends itself to pre-empting asset faults. Capello agrees, saying it could play a key role for customers: “I think connectivity is extremely important and will become more so in the future when it comes to our finished products,” he says. “This will help us not only to work closely with the customer and better understand their needs and maybe we can realise before the customer that their equipment has an issue.”

Having been in his role for just over a year at Ariston Thermo what does he enjoy about his new position? “It gives me a complete 360 degrees overview of what is a very important part of the company,” he tells me. “I can extend my support into marketing, pricing and business intelligence, topics which are new to me, but areas I find really interesting.” Alluding to his previous comments on connectivity and predictive maintenance, does he finds these areas exciting; to be exploring IoT and machine learning and to witness how these new technologies can complement spare parts management? “Innovation is something we are always exploring at the company,” he says, “and we are always looking at the next step, but we have to make sure that our customer understands why we are doing it.”

Andrea’s presentation in Stockholm will be a focus on stock optimization, referencing Ariston Thermo’s own inventory processes and guidelines. Does attending an event such as the Spare Parts Business Platform bring other advantages such as networking? “It’s a great opportunity to meet other people who may have similar challenges that you are facing,” he says. “We can share ideas on how to approach those challenges and understand the benchmark processes of other companies and you can go home with useful partnerships and establish another communication channel, to get a different perspective from outside your company.”

Interview conducted by Field Service News on behalf of Copperberg