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Italian retail clothing brand owner manages the maintenance of over 600 department stores more effectively and efficiently with new asset management capabilities

Gruppo Coin is a leading clothing retailer in Italy with a 6.2% market share. The Group operates n the Italian and international market with the brands OVS, Coin, Upim, lana and Excelsior Milano with a total of 1,020 stores in Italy and 117 abroad that cover a commercial area of 840,000 square metres. 

The company needed to improve the management of its department store assets, including air conditioning, electrical, lifting, alarm and sound systems, smoke and fire detectors and the hardware component of data communication systems.

Maintenance management of these facilities and equipment has always been assigned to about twenty external companies through specific service level agreements (SLAs) defined between the company and provider. Maintenance companies liaise directly with Gruppo Coin’s department store managers, as well as its technical area assistants and central technical management.

The management of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance carried out by external companies has always been tracked with Excel spreadsheets and Word files and through email, text messages and phone calls. "Tools that are totally inadequate for providing our technical services with an effective way to monitor and oversee the maintenance service,” said Andrea Scussel, Gruppo Coin head of technical services. In fact, the lack of specialised tools made it impossible to thoroughly monitor and analyse the compliance of external suppliers with the services defined by that SLA contracts and then monitor the actual costs and the overall efficiency of the service.

Setting out to improve processes 

A peculiarity of maintenance activities at Gruppo Coin is that its locations, albeit with different characteristics, are not very big, and none of them require the permanent presence of an internal maintenance specialist. Ordinary maintenance may be required weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on the case. For this reason it is important that maintenance is planned rigorously. Extraordinary maintenance requests are usually made by technical personnel, such as the department store manager, who calls for the assistance of the external specialised company. 

In order to check and monitor the situation it is necessary to coordinate several duties and responsibilities among the site that generates the call, the external company receiving the call and providing assistance and the internal technical structure; this consists of 20 specialists led by Scussel, who need to know and have the entire flow of activities, calls and interventions under control, to verify the actual need and adequacy from a technical standpoint, as well as to carry out constant monitoring to avoid unjustified additional costs being charged.

To identify this tool, a software selection was immediately started. The initial choice fell on Infor and another important supplier’s product. After about two months of analysis and comparisons of the two applications and the involvement of the company IT structure to verify the most technical aspects, at the end of 2009 the Coin Group chose the enterprise asset management (EAM) Enterprise product from Infor, partly because the company, as explained Scussel, "appeared to be particularly active, receptive and flexible with respect to our needs".

Infor EAM Enterprise is a company asset management solution with web architecture that allows the management of company assets lifecycle and enables their optimum performance. It manages the daily details of the equipment and facilities from the time of purchase until their disposal. The configurable processes to manage work orders provide customers with the tools to simplify their activities, from the acquisition of the task until its completion. Some of the key features of EAM Enterprise include the management of the asset lifecycle, work orders with predictive and preventive maintenance as well as warehouse inventory aligned with planned maintenance activities and supported by the supply of materials and services.

Accessing up-to-date information 

The system architecture provides access to the application via web from each store. The system records are networked and connected to each store. And the store manager can see the status of the various assets and maintenance programme, including any changes made by service providers based on their tasks.

Store records are updated automatically after ordinary or extraordinary maintenance, thus making it possible to keep track of maintenance costs and materials used. As a result, asset details are updated, accessible and manageable, the starting point of an integrated asset management system.

The system has been running for a few months. However, in the future and, with the input of a significant amount of data in the database, it will be possible to carry out a detailed and historical analysis of each asset. It will also enable the use of business intelligence techniques and tools (scoreboard, key performance indicators), the analysis of activities carried out and interventions costs, times and procedures to verify compliance with contract conditions and SLA definitions with maintenance service providers, as well as aid any renegotiation of individual contracts.

Among the original initiatives developed during the project, Scussel highlighted the so-called 'Bulletin board’ developed on the basis of a request by the Gruppo Coin technical services. He explained: “The board includes a worksheet where the store manager or provider log job requests. This request is ‘virtual’ until evaluated and authorised by technical services. They are the only ones that can decide whether the request is urgent and thus assign it a priority; otherwise it is queued with other, already planned maintenance.”

The EAM Enterprise tool has had a positive impact on business working practices and processes. Scussel added: "For a company like Coin, made up of many medium-small units scattered throughout Italy, the new system based on EAM Enterprise is now a solid point of reference and an incentive for store managers and maintenance service providers to adopt homogeneous practices and behaviours.”

Ongoing benefits anticipated

And to maintenance service providers the use of EAM Enterprise has proven to be highly beneficial for a further reason. Having to provide assistance to stores such as the Coin Group’s located throughout Italy, these companies can use the system to organize their activities and optimize maintenance times and procedures, especially when, as it happens in many cases, the supplier has to provide assistance to several stores. “We are pleased with both EAM Enterprise and Infor. The application has lived up to all its promises and has become an irreplaceable control tool and an important reference for the company. Infor has managed to meet our needs and has contributed to the creation of work team that starting from our needs has developed the most appropriate solutions”, said Scussel.

Next steps include enabling full coverage of the assets to be managed. When the project started, Upim stores, where asset maintenance had been managed using a specific software product, had not been considered.

There will also be a series of new implementations, starting from the integration on mobile devices of all activities and operations carried out by external companies. Using these devices, service providers will be able to access the maintenance plans of the stores within their competence, as well as open and close their operations. With the same devices, they will also be able to read the barcodes applied to each asset to allow for rapid and certain identification.

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