The future of field service: Internet of Things
By ECD (Electrical+Comms+Data) Staff
Wednesday, 01 March, 2017
Staying connected is essential for most field service professionals to manage their customer requests.
Almost every aspect of modern life can be connected and managed from the internet, including smartphones, buildings, cars and houses.
The Internet of Things (IoT) drives this evolution of modern communication. The IoT is a catch-all phrase that describes the way devices connect to collect and exchange data. The field service industry has evolved alongside IoT, as well as establishing interoperability across devices, applications and platforms.
Three key aspects of field service include costs, best-of-breed solutions and customer satisfaction.
Increased connectivity within a field service operation fosters a predictive model for addressing customer concerns. The ability to diagnose and address issues before they happen is essential to saving time (and money) on service calls. The fewer second (and third) service requests that are made, the more money businesses are able to save.
For example, the weather can be unpredictable at times, with high temperatures one day and freezing temperatures the next. IoT sensors in an HVAC system can monitor internal temperatures, while considering climate trends. The system can adjust temperature automatically.
It also helps reduce costs from reactive maintenance. One of the best ways to save money is to fix the issue the first time. It reduces the need for extra service tickets and technician billable hours. IoT uses real-time, predictive analytics to determine which services are needed.
IoT allows an HVAC system to track each time it has been serviced. Based on the service trends it can predict when the system is due for a check-up. No one is wasting their work day rushing to get the HVAC system fixed when it breaks. Instead, they can schedule a fix before disaster strikes.
Say farewell to the ‘one-vendor-fits-all’ model for enterprise asset management (EAM). Or at least, bid it adieu over the course of the next few years. IoT encourages businesses to adopt a ‘best-of-breed’ model. In this model, software applications and hardware devices are specific to their needs.
As more devices are built and connected to the internet, a flexible EAM platform can manage the differing assets within a centralised, consolidated system. Using cloud-based technology, best-of-breed providers can push updates to technicians in real time.
Cost and asset management are key components to achieving the ultimate goal: ensuring customer satisfaction. It strains both the customer relationship and the company bottom line when multiple service calls are needed because of underconnected devices and lack of information.
With IoT sensors installed in company equipment, it is possible to pinpoint service outages and issues before they become critical. These sensors can detect when a part is not working correctly. In addition, they can send requests to replace the faulty part before someone needs to make a service call.
For instance, IoT sensors can track power consumption in a customer’s refrigerator. Before the fridge breaks and food spoils, it is already known that it is due for service. It is possible to get ahead of the situation and tell the customer it is time for a fix. Customers can schedule a fix when it is convenient for them, and avoid ever dealing with a broken fridge. In addition, customers will be pleased because they will not have to worry about their devices breaking.
Even the technology that was used five years ago pales in comparison to what IoT can enable today. In due time, this technology will automate decisions and launch actions without human intervention. The future is here.
This article was originally published in Field Service Matters.
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