In the Big Discussion we take one topic, bring together three leading experts on that topic and put four key questions to them across four weeks to help us better understand its potential impact on the field service sector...
And so onto the first question on the topic...
Question One: Just how big is the potential impact of IoT on Field Service?
The Internet of Things is already transforming field service. Service has traditionally been a reactive practice. Something breaks, a technician is dispatched to fix it, and sometimes the repair is successful the first time. IoT enabled devices provide ongoing visibility into the status of a piece of equipment, as well as a richer view of the severity and source of any issues, and the ability to make predictions based on this information.
The service organisation no longer waits for a panicked phone call from a customer. They can proactively maintain equipment, replace components before they break, and use an understanding of asset lifecycle and usage patterns to inform future product design.
Customers increasingly expect to pay for uptime instead of equipment, and define SLAs based on their business targets. Eventually, all service organisations will have to live up the expectation of seamless service and minimised disruptions.
The potential of IoT – and more importantly IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things) – is immense. So much so, that it’s making service a game changer, fundamentally changing how we optimise equipment and capital assets, and predict their maintenance and service requirements.
By harvesting and applying intelligence that previously would have been impossible to obtain, companies are seeing a major step change this area - that’s why more forward thinking companies are combining IoT-enabled field service management with asset performance management.
This is emerging as the real disruptor because for the first time, customers have meaningful performance and service intelligence at their fingertips to understand potential equipment issues, and pre-empt them or act upon them quickly and efficiently with the correct tools and parts.
It’s important to remember that prescription is equally as valuable as prediction - prescription to make adjustments or refine parameters to improve productivity or throughout, or keep something running to the next planned service outage. That’s one of the things that makes the Industrial Internet so powerful – you can do load balancing, and share the flow and volume across multiple appliances or machines using condition-based monitoring to switch machines in high volume usage areas when required.
IoT has huge potential to transform field service organisations. The concept and technologies allows organisations to take data collected from remote sites and equipment to:
Gain better insights into the usage of equipment.
This will help determine when to perform optimal service. Rather than send technicians to sites on a schedule, you can send them only when you need to. For example, say you service a solar park. One of the main things that can lead to damage solar modules is wind. By remotely tracking the wind speeds, you can better estimate when to perform service.
Run a leaner service organisation.
One challenge service organisations encounter is that they’re reactive in nature. They respond to equipment failing. And without real-time information of equipment, when the equipment fails is unpredictable. This requires the organisations to maintain a fair amount of slack. Both within the inventory they manage, and the people that they’re made up of. Knowing when equipment will likely need service or when it will reach its end of life allows you to better plan.
Improve the competitiveness of your service offerings.
IoT, combined with machine learning, allows you to address problems before they occur. This results in higher availability of your equipment and lower service costs. You can pass this to your customers by improving your service terms and conditions. Higher SLA targets and compliance delivered at lower cost is a win-win all around.
Next weeks question: Is IoT now making the shift from early adoption to mass adoption amongst field service companies?