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Many industries and domains are already using artificial intelligence (AI). When it comes to field service management, however, AI is still a new aspect in the field of service excellence. Imagine customers calling their service provider because an installation is malfunctioning; a machine has to be maintained, or an urgently needed spare part is needed. It is always essential that a service technician is on-site quickly – not any technician, but the one with the required know-how and tools.
To support this process, field service management solutions based on AI help to coordinate and organize customer requests. Additionally, the waiting time for customers until their problem is fixed can be reduced immensely.
Since traditional resource planning can no longer cope with the enormous volume of service orders that arise, AI is an ideal solution. Artificial intelligence uses customer information and data to empower service companies so that they are able to make strategic and informed decisions.
Thorough analyses powered by AI help to streamline project planning, staffing requirements, new products, inventory management, and customer service.
Automation reduces workloads
Due to an ever-growing number of work orders, the time pressure on service staff is increasing. Automated bot systems based on artificial intelligence, such as chatbots, represent a forward-looking solution in field service management.
Chatbots assist service technicians and customers alike by giving them 24/7 feedback based on the company’s FAQs or data sheets as well as manuals to solve minor machinery defects autonomously. Thus, first level enquiries can be answered immediately, and on-site visits can be reduced.
In addition to chatbots, artificial intelligence is key to the automation of workflows in service sectors. Field service management solutions based on AI can take over the role of dispatchers, for example: They analyze customer inquiries and assign jobs to the most suitable service technician based on their qualifications, location, and availability. Companies benefit from more efficient and faster operational planning of their service staff. Consequently, advantages for customers are improvements in the fields of time and expert service.
Multichannel support, a recipe for happy customers
Customers increasingly expect service companies to be available on all possible channels in order to receive the best support for their issue.
AI applications can be used to collect, analyze, evaluate, and forward requests received via e-mail, social media, webchat, telephone, or in personal conversations with employees, that can then choose between different answer options. If necessary, these answers can be personalized and individualized to the customer’s request.
An approach like this accelerates the exchange with customers and enables real-time as well as multichannel support.
AI algorithms enable personalized service
Field service management solutions can gather data and, as a result, companies can access vast quantities of information with every single customer contact. Furthermore, AI algorithms help to analyze the collected data and draw conclusions for future deployments of service technicians by extracting relevant pieces of information.
Additionally, they offer information about when a service order is due or which tools are required. Machine learning also helps to calculate how long the next service deployment will take. All results and findings are stored in the field service management software and other linked systems so service technicians can access customer information at any time and location to customize their service according to the client’s needs.
Artificial intelligence is one of the most important future technologies in the area of field service management to be used to increase service excellence and to please customers.
It enables and improves a smarter and more efficient workforce by delivering reliable customer support in real-time.
Manuel Grenacher is GM of SAP Service Cloud
Jul 30, 2019 • Features • Coresystems • Customer Expectatioon • customer satisfaction • Future of FIeld Service • manuel grenacher • remote service • field service • field service technicians • Internet of Things • IoT • SAP • Service Engineer • Service Management
In today’s society whereas consumer’s we are becoming increasingly used to and expectant of instant results is an obvious challenge for field service organisations but can remote services help bridge the gap? Manuel Grenacher, CEO, Coresystems ...
In today’s society whereas consumer’s we are becoming increasingly used to and expectant of instant results is an obvious challenge for field service organisations but can remote services help bridge the gap? Manuel Grenacher, CEO, Coresystems discusses...
With the pervasiveness of the Internet of Things (IoT), everything from device performance to customer interactions has become faster and more connected. Devices that require maintenance and repair now operate on an accelerated timeline of immediately notifying the user when service is needed. Because of this, customers expect real-time responses, leaving little to no time for a field service technician to travel to the site, troubleshoot the issue and fix the device. Therefore, to maintain and improve customer satisfaction, technicians are exploring ways to provide the same level of onsite, but while remote.
The idea behind remote technicians stems from the technician’s ability to diagnose a problem, determine possible solutions, and lay out a plan for issue resolution - all before they take one step onto the worksite. In a perfect world, remote technicians essentially only have to leave their workstations once to perform tasks that require a high level of skill, or perhaps not at all for routine maintenance and repair. Naturally, this drastically cuts down the amount of travel cost and time and total project duration needed to solve an issue with a customer’s device, streamlining the entire service request from issue detection to resolution.
Field service technicians no longer need to blindly infer what is happening on the broken device based on descriptions from less experienced users, nor do they need to fumble through repair instructions over the phoneField service technicians no longer need to blindly infer what is happening on the broken device based on descriptions from less experienced users, nor do they need to fumble through repair instructions over the phone. Indeed, the remote technician takes full advantage of tools such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and even the IoT itself to deliver the same experience as a technician standing in front of the customer would.
So how does it work? It starts with putting the proper infrastructure in place to allow technicians to troubleshoot issues on devices and machines from afar. Taking issue detection as an example, remote technicians can use augmented reality to share a mobile phone screen with a customer for a visual walkthrough of the issue. From there, the remote technician can schedule an onsite appointment if needed and manage the parts orders needed for specific projects, ensuring all the necessary assets are in place well in advance.
To be fair, managing a workforce of remote technicians is no easy task. In order to optimize your field service operations, it is extremely beneficial to be able to automatically assign the most qualified and available technician for respective service requests, taking into account expertise, location, and availability. As a fail-safe, the onsite technicians should have easy access to online product specifications and other assets needed to complete service requests. Additionally, similar to how remote technicians use augmented reality to connect to the customer for issue detection, on-site technicians can connect to more experienced journeyman technicians back at headquarters to troubleshoot unforeseen issues. This creates a network of knowledge that will keep project duration to a minimum, improving efficiency for the technician while onsite.
The way in which field service technicians work has evolved and is continuing to do so. The next generation of technicians are prioritizing independence, autonomy, and flexibility, on top of foundational knowledge and customer service experience. As the IoT continues to grow, so will the need for remote technicians, and the field service industry assuredly has the infrastructure to maintain the high level of customer satisfaction that we strive for today.
What are your experiences experimenting with a more remote field service workforce? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Crowdsourcing is an established trend in the workplace, although primarily known from industries such as software engineering, rideshare platforms or finance in the form of crowdfunding.
However, companies in field service are increasingly recognizing the benefits of this collaboration model for their business strategy. Amongst some of the advantages are a faster processing of service orders or improved customer satisfaction to name just a few.
But why exactly should companies jump on the crowd service bandwagon?
Build a strong ecosystem with skilled partners
By establishing a crowd service concept in their field service management, companies can add as many external technicians to their talent pool as they require in addition to their internal technicians – sourced from its partners and subsidiaries to freelancers.
That way, they create an ecosystem of certified experts performing simple tasks such as installing standardized machines and equipment or replacing cables, but also solving complex issues with specially configured systems or according software. In that case, it is of paramount importance that this expert knowledge is digitally recorded.
"Crowdsourcing is an established trend in the workplace..."
Finally, companies can expand their knowledge pool. This is especially important for very specific maintenance and repair tasks of old equipment at a time when highly qualified specialists are becoming rare or they are already retired.
Accelerate the completion of service orders
After having received a service call, the artificial intelligence-based crowd service tool can match the most suitable and qualified technician from the pool with the specific service request. The technicians are selected based on their location, availability and work schedules, required skills and additional criteria that companies can determine individually.
Afterwards, the system sends a request to the technician’s mobile device. The expert can then accept the service job and receive all the information needed for the tasks in the application. Once the assigned tasks have been completed, the technicians receive a fixed payment for their job – and customers can rate the performance the same way they would rate a driver working for a ride-share provider.
Transform customers to fans
So, what is the biggest advantage of crowd service? The improved customer experience for your clients, of course. Benefiting from a larger pool of technicians, companies can respond to service requests faster and reduce the waiting time for their customers.
Moreover, sending the most suitable technician to the job that needs to be done leads to a higher service quality, boosts your first-time fix rate and, therefore, leads to minimized downtimes of mission critical machines and equipment.
This is the decisive moment in customer service: companies need to help their customers to achieve their business goals despite machine or equipment failures.
In return, customers will reward companies with their loyalty.
Manuel Grenacher is GM of SAP Service Cloud.
The longer a plant is malfunctioning or down, the more costs companies have to bear. To avoid that, IoT-based solutions such as condition monitoring and predictive maintenance enable organizations to oversee machines in real-time. At the same time, however, these concepts result in increased complexity: In the event of emergency, companies expect that problems with their plants will be remedied immediately.
For service technicians, that means to act fast upon requests: their customers do not only expect high-quality service, but also the speed of service delivery should be up to their expectations. But how to keep up with the increasing demand? Intelligent planning in an ever-growing digitalized world is crucial to companies: it builds the foundation for excellent field service. Thus, on-demand service is no longer sufficient – organizations have to go beyond their conventional methods to handle customer requests.
More than ever, field service software helps to keep up with the pace: technicians are able to receive information that is accurate to the minute and can respond directly. Thanks to modern transformation technologies, upcoming problems can be detected right from the start and inquiries can be processed in real-time. Companies need to be the master of your offered services. Real-time service delivery can be easily implemented, and the result is remarkable: more satisfied customers and an increased turnover.
Requirements For Digital Twins In Service
Sufficient sensors and a systematic evaluation of the data are the essential basis to predict imminent component failures – an approach that is already feasible today. However, technical possibilities are still far from being exhausted right now. Due to ongoing depreciations or for other economic reasons, companies are only gradually investing in plants equipped with modern IoT technology. IoT, however, will become more affordable in the near future. Sensors will therefore spread continuously while at the same time becoming easier to use, more resistant and cheaper.
New concepts for real-time monitoring
Predictive maintenance and condition monitoring are two examples for future-oriented solutions that support service technicians in delivering the right service at the right time. The concepts are able to identify when maintenance work is required by collecting data from the machine itself, previous service calls and connected tools. Under certain circumstances, maintenance can even be conducted by the machine itself without human interaction.
Furthermore, technologies providing predictive maintenance and condition monitoring do not only help to maintain plants, they also steer the technician toward the root cause of the problem: the service specialist knows when a problem will occur and is able to initiate preventive actions – In addition to malfunctions and interruptions of plants being reduced, production capacity increases.
The potential of digital field service and crowd service
If you want to offer high-quality field service to your clients, you cannot avoid digitizing your work processes. With the rise of IoT, a wide range of new solutions have emerged, for example digital field service management solutions. By using such software, service providers can record, sort, and prioritize customer data easily. This helps to quickly assign technicians to customer requests and process them. Digital field service management solutions store information on the current order, the customer history and machines, which leads to a high first-time fix rate. But what to do if a plant unexpectedly shuts down and no technician is available?
A nightmare not only for operators, but also for manufacturers and service-providers. To master this challenge, the implementation of a crowd service approach can help to strategically avoid service shortage. Companies can reach out to their partner ecosystem, which may consist of the enterprise group, subsidiaries, partners or freelancers. In that way, technicians can be sent to the client by using on-demand distribution.
As a result, resources can be bundled, services improved, and customer satisfaction increased. Increased service reach through real-time support Real-time service is not only about being quickly on-site – it is also about giving support via email, video, chat and social media as well as via client portals and mobile applications.
At the same time, many customers want to be actively involved: with the help of self-service portals they can check operational data, view tutorials, request remote support from an external support team, or even make an appointment with a service technician.
Offering clients a range of real-time contact opportunities, and, thus, being available 24/7, ensures a sustainable and positive customer experience.
Manuel Grenacher is General Manager of SAP Field Service Management
Have you ever considered the possibilities and potential of digital twins for your customer service? Don’t worry, we are not talking about virtual figures in cyberspace that are modelled after the user just like avatars.
A digital twin represents a real object in the digital world. Digital twins are composed of data and algorithms and can be coupled with the real world via sensors. They form the basis for a digital customer service and other industry 4.0 related processes. In short, “digital twins” recreate a system in the computer. Ideally, data from the engineering phase – from 3D models to detailed information on installed components – is transferred to the operating phase.
Sensors provide live information on operating conditions, and in addition, all technical innovations on the system, such as the installation of a spare part, are tracked in the “digital twin”. Users benefit from more accurate real-time information and they get a detailed “reference book” with all service information they need.
But how can companies use the advantages of digital twins for their customer service? Digital twins enable the implementation of predictive maintenance since they allow data to be assigned to specific plant conditions. Thus, changing measuring conditions often show in advance that a certain component will fail in the foreseeable future. This allows planned system downtimes to be better coordinated and repair cycles to be adapted to expected failure probabilities.
Requirements For Digital Twins In Service
Sufficient sensors and a systematic evaluation of the data are the essential basis to predict imminent component failures – an approach that is already feasible today. However, technical possibilities are still far from being exhausted right now.
Due to ongoing depreciations or for other economic reasons, companies are only gradually investing in plants equipped with modern IoT technology. IoT, however, will become more affordable in the near future. Sensors will therefore spread continuously while at the same time becoming easier to use, more resistant and cheaper.
"A digital twin represents a real object in the digital world..."
Enabling New Business Models, A Recipe For Digital Success
Industry 4.0 cannot work without a well-planned and technologically underpinned digital service concept, because service is an essential part of digitization. Many companies today already try to stand out with the quality of their service rather than just great products since they are often too similar, even exchangeable.
Customers therefore primarily choose the partner that offers more and faster service. The goal of every company should therefore be to better understand its customers, create better touchpoints and improve service.
This is where new concepts such as “machine-asa-service” become more and more important: companies only purchase the performance of a machine instead of the machine itself – including the service to ensure constant performance. Service Lifecycle Management plays a central role in this concept. In the future, entire ecosystems will emerge from new service providers using concepts like this.
Digital Twins Will Revolutionize Customer Service
Digital twins with their immense data material in both service and business intelligence offer the potential to create entirely new areas of business. Sensors allow to map and control machine statuses and product quality in real time – as well as predicting problems at an early stage. This way, service can intervene before expensive machine failures occur.
Furthermore, companies can dynamically adapt maintenance intervals to actual requirements on the basis of live information. In the future, all of a company’s systems as well as all of its spare parts, tools, containers and products, will be represented by their “digital mirror images”, a complete factory in the computer. The large amount of data that can be collected using digital twins in combination with artificial intelligence evaluation will provide stunning new insights into the interaction of operating processes.
This will lead to fully automated smart factories, which, thanks to artificial intelligence and digital twins, can control themselves practically without human intervention
Manuel Grenacher, is GM at SAP Field Service Management.
Dec 12, 2018 • Features • Artificial intelligence • Augmented Reality • Coresystems • Future of FIeld Service • manuel grenacher • field service • field service management • Internet of Things • IoT • SAP • Proactive Maintenance • Service Automation
Manuel Grenacher, CEO, Coresystems, reflects back on some of the big predictions he made earlier this year and reflects on the progress made in interweaving the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality into the fabric of...
Manuel Grenacher, CEO, Coresystems, reflects back on some of the big predictions he made earlier this year and reflects on the progress made in interweaving the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality into the fabric of field service delivery across the last 12 months...
The days are getting shorter and colder, which means the holidays are approaching and 2019 is just around the corner (believe it or not!). So now is the perfect time to take a look back at 2018 and take stock of the advancements the field service industry made this year.
Back in March, we highlighted three trends we predicted would have major impacts on the field service sector in 2018. We noted that while 2017 introduced innovative new technology-based trends with the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR), 2018 would bring real-world applications that put those buzzwords into practice.
So let’s review the progress of each of those three trends this year – after all, predictions don’t mean much if you don’t evaluate how accurate they were, right…?
The IoT Drives Proactive Device Maintenance, Service and Repair
Since the Internet of Things (IoT) became an integral part of almost every business’ technology mix midway through this decade, field service innovators have been finding ways to use the increased connectivity of the IoT to gain a competitive advantage. We predicted that in 2018, further innovation would allow field service technicians to utilize the IoT and automation in today’s devices – with the goal of providing service in real-time to meet (and exceed) customer expectations.
As is often the case in the field service industry, supply chain and manufacturing organizations were at the front of the line when it came to utilizing IoT-enabled and supported field service. Toward the end of this interview between SupplyChainBrain and various supply chain executives, the benefits of the predictive maintenance that the IoT enables become clear. Regarding sensor-equipped motors in warehouses, automation solutions provider Knapp noted:
“A motor might transmit information about vibration or heat, for example. It could indicate it needs potential maintenance services, and that's important because that would be predictive maintenance as opposed to breakdown maintenance, which is much more costly and can severely impact service levels.”
We’re seeing this focus on IoT-enabled predictive maintenance across the board with our manufacturing customers, so we can confirm that it definitely became a major focus in 2018 – and will continue to do so in 2019.
Artificial Intelligence Simplifies and Automates Service Appointments
Although artificial intelligence (AI) is in danger of becoming a somewhat empty buzzword in many industries, it’s here to stay – indeed, Gartner forecasts that 85 percent of customer interactions will be managed by AI by the year 2020.
The field service industry is applying AI in very meaningful ways as we speak, and it’s the concept of predictive maintenance that is driving the adoption of AI. For example, a recent study of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the supply chain sector found that most OEMs are gathering data from sensor-equipped products in the field—a key requirement for predictive maintenance. In addition, more than half of OEMs plan to make AI and machine learning a major investment, while 90 percent intend to invest in predictive analytics within the next 12 months.
Beyond predictive maintenance (but related to it), AI can streamline the field service technician dispatching process – which crucially means customers can get their equipment serviced faster. Influential software authority Capterra highlighted how design consultancy Philosophie, using AI, developed a field service program that handed 90-95 percent of the technician dispatching duties to an AI system – which enabled the field service team to dedicate its human talent to the more difficult field service jobs.
AI most definitely made its stamp on the field service industry in 2018, and the innovation is expected to continue next year and beyond.
Augmented Reality Provides Unprecedented Visibility into Worksites
Back in March, we noted that the increased connectivity that the IoT brings will continue to propel the application of augmented reality (AR) in the field service sector. In 2018, we saw AR applied by companies aiming to improve their first-time fix rate on service calls, as well as other vital field service functions.
ZDNet detailed several highly-recognizable brands using AR for service calls, including BP's U.S. Lower 48 onshore oil and natural gas business, which has been equipping field service technicians with AR platforms to assist with repairs, and Caterpillar, which recently tested an AR solution for the technicians who service a line of its onsite portable generators. Caterpillar provides field personnel with an internally-developed iPad app that interfaces with IoT sensors on the generator to provide real-time diagnostics and repair protocols.
While AR is in its infancy relative to the IoT and AI, we’ve seen our own customers' leverage AR to make better use of their field service resources – including servicing their customers’ equipment remotely through AR glasses. We’re very likely to see the usage of AR expand in the field service industry in 2019.
It certainly appears that the trends we highlighted earlier this year continued to gain significant traction in the field service industry in 2018, and we fully expect IoT, AI and AR technologies to continue to drive a wide range of innovative projects and initiatives in 2019. And once the calendar turns to 2019, look out for our predictions on the developments to look forward to next year!
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Coresystems, a leading provider of cloud-based field service and workforce management software for mid-sized and large enterprises’ field service organizations, today announced that Orchard Machinery Corporation (OMC) is using Coresystems’...
Coresystems, a leading provider of cloud-based field service and workforce management software for mid-sized and large enterprises’ field service organizations, today announced that Orchard Machinery Corporation (OMC) is using Coresystems’ platform to support OMC’s field service operations. OMC is the world leader in orchard harvesting equipment, using its patented Shakermaker machines to harvest fruits and nuts for worldwide distribution.
OMC was created from a dire need to automate the extreme labour required to pick fruits and nuts by hand. As OMC’s Shakermaker deployments and operations expanded, it ran into similar obstacles of suboptimal field service productivity. During rotating shifts from early mornings to late nights, OMC’s field service technicians would fill out paperwork to document service projects and request additional parts. However, the paperwork would typically take up to three days to process, which was often too late to restock the field service technicians’ trucks before the next appointment.
OMC turned to Coresystems to automate and accelerate its field service operations, and thus improve productivity for its travelling technicians. Coresystems’ platform provides OMC with a manufacturing and enterprise resourcing planning (MRP/ERP) solution to make time-intensive paperwork obsolete, fully incorporating existing field service processes into mobile phone and tablet devices. With the mobile platform, OMC’s technicians' input project updates and part requests in real-time. This not only streamlines inventory management for OMC’s in-office service managers, enabling them to focus on customer service within the shop, but it also provides OMC’s upper management valuable insights of the number of service calls fulfilled most profitable customer integrations and more.
Between manually inputting paperwork and waiting for requests for restocked parts, our field service operations ended up being an all-hands-on-deck effort“Previously, OMC’s field service operations revolved heavily around paperwork – and the rate at which we were able to process it. Between manually inputting paperwork and waiting for requests for restocked parts, our field service operations ended up being an all-hands-on-deck effort,” said Brian Kaufman, Parts Manager, Orchard Machinery Corporation. “With Coresystems, we are able to automate and streamline our field service processes, optimizing our in-field technicians’ workdays and freeing up in-office service managers to focus on driving business goals elsewhere. We are now much better equipped to ensure the thousands of deployed Shakermaker machines are in prime condition to produce bountiful harvest seasons worldwide.”
OMC selected Coresystems for the customization capabilities of its platform, as well as its ability to address OMC’s needs that are highly specific to the agricultural industry. OMC’s ERP systems use unique terminology, to which Coresystems can translate generic field service descriptions for various assets.
“While the agriculture industry is built upon a history of physical, manual labour, innovators such as OMC are discovering new methods of automating and accelerating the industry – but they require the back-end infrastructure to enable them to do so,” said Manuel Grenacher, CEO of Coresystems. “By offering OMC a paperless, mobile solution, Coresystems addresses the specific needs of harvesting operations and elevates them to the real-time pace of technology today.”
OMC plans to expand the Coresystems implementation to additional service centres, extending the reach of its field service offerings. OMC also envisions incorporating third-party integration with customers and dealers to further streamline inventory management, sales orders and requests for parts.
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Jun 18, 2018 • Features • FSM • IFS FSM 6 • Mark Brewer • mplsystems • Work Wave • EQT • ERP • field service management • IFS • IFS APPS 10 • SAP • Service Management • Software and Apps • Stephen Jeff Watts
With a new CEO taking the helm Swedish FSM and ERP providers, IFS enter a new era of their ongoing development. Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief was on hand at the IFS World Conference in Atlanta to see the developments first hand and caught up with...
With a new CEO taking the helm Swedish FSM and ERP providers, IFS enter a new era of their ongoing development. Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief was on hand at the IFS World Conference in Atlanta to see the developments first hand and caught up with FSN associate columnist Mark Brewer, Global Director of Field Service, to get the inside scoop...
The IFS World Conference is an event that never really fails to deliver at least one key highlight of interest. Memories of CTO, Dan Matthews bouncing around madly to Bruce Springsteen on the stage last time out in Gothenburg- he was demonstrating how IoT sensors work just in case you were wondering, is one such example of the unique way the Swedish company approach things.
Similarly, Ulf Stern, one of the companies original founders keeping customers, prospects and the press alike entertained playing some (pretty darned good) rock and roll with his band in a ‘Fish Cathedral’ later that evening is just another example of how the same core ethos remains in the company today as it did when they first started out some 35 years ago. Despite significant growth and development across the years, there all often overlooked secret-sauce that can allow a company to flourish, the uniqueness within their DNA - has always remained the same.
Who IFS are today is very much a different company to who they were then, just 18 months ago.Yet, who IFS are today is very much a different company to who they were then, just 18 months ago.
Firstly, there is the acquisition by - investment firm EQT. Which was in fact announced just days before the Gothenburg World Conference.
At the time the discussion had been highly positive - especially from a field service point of view as the message from EQT was clear - we are giving you the funds to go and do what you do better and faster - with field service being one of the top three areas IFS would be targeting for significant growth.
Given their stature in the market at the time as an already established major player within the field service industry, this was certainly an exciting announcement for those close to our sector.
Indeed, there have already been some significant acquisitions that Field Service News readers, especially those from the UK will be aware of which have followed after the acquisition.
The first of these was to bring IFS UK and Eire reseller Field Service Management in-house, which was a sensible and largely expected move.
The second, which saw mplsystems become part of the IFS family, however, was far more strategic.
mplsystems core strength lies is there omnichannel contact centre technology, essentially plugging a major gap in the IFS solutionAlthough, an FSM solution provider themselves, mplsystems core strength lies is there omnichannel contact centre technology, essentially plugging a major gap in the IFS solution and giving them a genuinely robust end to end service solution.
This is not to mention the US acquisition of WorkWave, an FSM solution that is dedicated to the SMB market - which instantly gave IFS access to a huge market, which many of the larger FSM solution providers struggle to penetrate.
So in fairness the record of EQT in terms of delivering on their promise has been mightily impressive and IFS have continued to grow in stature within the FSM sector as one of the true key players - an achievement all the more impressive given the attention our sector has had within the last few years with the lieks of GE, SAP, Microsoft and Salesforce all investing significantly in building a global presence.
My anticipation was therefore high when I spotted that the launch of FSM6 was to be given a major spotlight, being presented on the main stage as a key announcement on day 1.
Mark Brewer, Gloabl Director, Field Service, alongside Steve Jeff-Watts, Senior Advisor, IFS were the men tasked with giving that presentation.
“If you go back to the origins of IFS, we are an ERP company, but that can be something of an ambiguous term,” opened Brewer when I caught up with him.
We built a product that managed service, maintenance and projects. This means the intrinsic DNA of the business is actually service not manufacturing“ERP for most people is a product built for managing a manufacturing business. IFS did not ever take that approach. We built a product that managed service, maintennance and projects. This means the intrinsic DNA of the business is actually service not manufacturing.”
“Fast forward to today with the IFS FSM platform you’ve got a best in class service offering, there is an almost equivalent best-in-class service functionality in an ERP in Apps 10.”
“This means you can already have an existing ERP such as SAP or somethign similar which you are unable to swap out, we can layer that with best-in-class field service. However, if you also need solutions for your manufacturing, supply chain, financials etc then we can also give you all of this whilst encapsulating a best-in-class service solution within it.”
Customer experience is a huge part of the equation in service organisations now and we are moving into the experience economy “It is a unique position, where we can not only offer the stand alone FSM solution but the wider ESM (Enterprise Service Management) solution as well.”
“I also thought it was very telling that the announcement of our acquisition and mplsystems and our integration of their technology into IFS FSM was front and centre on the main stage during the opening key note sessions.”
“We call our solution IFS FSM but the truth is now that it is a full end-to-end lifecycle management solution. It is far more than just field service, it includes depot repair operations, reverse logistics, customer specific billing, deep contract and warranty capability.”
“Given that it goes all the way to the end, we were missing a piece at the front, and mplsystems omni channel solution completes the picture. Customer experience is a huge part of the equation in service organisations now and we are moving into the experience economy so that customer journey needs to be consistent across the whole lifecycle.”
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Winterhalter Gastronom GmbH is a global leader in commercial dishwashing systems for the catering, hospitality, and hotel industry. With over 1,000 employees worldwide and revenue of €134 million in 2011, the owner-operated company ranks among...
Winterhalter Gastronom GmbH is a global leader in commercial dishwashing systems for the catering, hospitality, and hotel industry. With over 1,000 employees worldwide and revenue of €134 million in 2011, the owner-operated company ranks among the global players in the catering industry.
The company is headquartered in Meckenbeuren in the Bodensee district and has a second production facility in Endingen am Kaiserstuhl. Worldwide, Winterhalter has offices and partners in over 70 countries. Also part of the group is Winterhalter Gastronom AG, based in Rüthi, Switzerland.
From paper to IT-based scheduling
In order to provide customers from Winterhalter always with clean plates, glasses and utensils, hundreds of service engineers worldwide take care of the maintenance, repair and commissioning of the machines. Some 100,000 jobs are planned, controlled and handled per year.
In 2010 Winterhalter decided to introduce a field service management system in Germany in order to optimise the data processing and quality customer service and to ensure process reliability. Until this time, the resource planners used a SAP-MRP list. The service engineers received their orders by fax. Additional information about the customer or the machine could be obtained only by phone. The technicians completed their service reports on paper, which were checked by the back office team and then released for billing.
The decisive criteria for the selection of a solution were the integration in the existing SAP CS system and in the processes of Winterhalter as well as the internationality of the provider
Introductory project in Germany
In autumn 2011, the solution was implemented in Germany. The dispatchers now plan and control the service technicians in a rotation system. They are also responsible for customer contact, order acceptance and customer satisfaction surveys. The graphical scheduling in mobileX-Dispatch shows the dispatcher all resources and the SAP CS orders clearly on the Gantt chart as well as on a map display.
Based on the order type and the respective transaction mobileX-Dispatch automatically determines the necessary qualifications and draws up a list of suitable technicians. The route optimisation ensures that the service technicians get an ideal order of jobs and directions for handling of their jobs.
After the allocation by the dispatcher the service technician receives the jobs on his laptop in the mobile client mobileX-MIP for Field Service. He can therefore start directly from home for the first customer. Even in fringe areas - ie offline - he can access all order data, such as documents or the service history and prepare the feedback report. Once connected again, the data transfer takes place automatically in the background.
The material logistics is also connected to the mobile client. Depending on consumption, the technician orders spares one to two times per week. If necessary, urgent spare parts can also be delivered by overnight express. In addition, he can capture his vehicle stock level for the annual inventory or the periodic inventory correction in digital count lists. These are then sent back to SAP MM.
After repair or maintenance, the service technician creates his service report by click on a button. This can consist of modular times, travel expenses or other services and material consumption.
Meanwhile Winterhalter service technicians use mobileX-MIP for Field Service in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK.
“At the beginning of the rollout, there was a certain mistrust of the new solution. But today, the colleagues cannot imagine working without the system. Data quality has improved dramatically with the field service management system. In addition, our personnel structure has changed in the customer service. While the number of our dispatchers has hardly changed, we now have a lot more service colleagues in the field. That is, we can provide more customers with a better and faster service.” commented Christian Schneider, Director Operations International at Winterhalter Gastronom GmbH
The number of service technicians in customer service at Winterhalter rises from year to year with more and more customers. Even more countries will use the WFM solution in in future.