Outcome-Driven: The Business Case for Product as a Service

Written By: Kyle Irby
  • Service & Parts
  • 10/16/2017

Customers don’t buy products as much as they buy the capabilities and outcomes those products deliver. To them, a perfect world is one in which their equipment never fails.

Unfortunately, some companies spend millions (or billions, depending on the industry) servicing those assets every year but still struggle to prevent failures. Such frustration has bolstered demand for Product-as-a-Service contracts. Under these agreements, product manufacturers assume responsibility for keeping in-field equipment up-and-running, absolving customers of the costs associated with managing spare parts, creating work scopes, and executing maintenance.

Product as a Service fundamentally changes how manufacturers make money, shifting their focus away from product sales and toward aftermarket service. Why invest in this business model?

Customers demand more uptime

When a minerals company buys an excavator, it does so to increase its production capacity. If that excavator shuts down unexpectedly, the mine must allocate resources toward fixing the machine as opposed to producing material, thus hurting the mine's ROI.

There are several tactics manufacturers can employ to prevent downtime from occurring:

  • Establishing and executing maintenance plans according to each product’s operating environment.
  • Advising customers as to how to best utilize their equipment.
  • Ensuring service supply chains support every asset’s work scope.
  • Remotely monitoring products to predict when specific components will fail.

Product as a Service is more profitable than equipment sales

Aftermarket service is about four to five times more valuable than product sales because service transactions occur multiple times across an installed product’s lifecycle. The average profit margin for each of those transactions is usually between 15% and 25%, whereas product sale margins range from 10% to 15%.

Frequent service transactions also build rapport between product users and manufacturers. When a product manufacturer anticipates an impending failure and takes proactive measures to prevent that failure form occurring, the customer is likely to not only renew its service contract but also recommend the manufacturer to a colleague.

Can you deliver Product as a Service?

Providing Product as a Service warrants certain capabilities. When assessing your operations, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does each product have a service bill of materials (SBOM)? Every product in your portfolio must have its own living SBOM that contains each serviceable part’s lifecycle, work procedures, supersessions, and current conditions.
  • Which departments can access the SBOMs? Field service technicians, remote support staff, product designers, engineers, spare parts management personnel, and even accounting should have access to the SBOMs.
  • Can I monitor equipment and predict failures? Review your product’s connective capabilities. Do existing designs have built-in sensors that can send information over the internet? Which systems secure, validate, process, and analyze that data?

How you implement Product as a Service depends on the manner in which customers utilize your products. Ingersoll Rand’s Trane division serves as a solid example of Product as a Service in action. You can read their story below:

PTC Service Cast Study

  • Service & Parts

About the Author

Kyle Irby

Kyle Irby is an Advisor in PTC’s IoT Transformation Advisory Practice (ITAP). He is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in Field Service and Operations helping multiple organizations develop the necessary strategies across technology and processes to drive revenue into organizations. Kyle is currently focused on helping organizations understand and create the business transformation models and necessary roadmaps to take advantage of possibilities that IoT and related technologies are creating in the marketplace. It is his belief that organizations that grasp the possibilities and lay the foundations today will become the success stories in the future.