Hindsight has always been 20/20 but the future is also getting much clearer. Field Service Management has come a long way since digitalization first triggered the service transformation wave that’s sweeping the industry. Stacey Epstein, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at ServiceMax, looks at the current trends moulding the sector...
At ServiceMax, we’re seeing three distinct requirements - echoed by our global customer base - that are shaping field service innovation, business agendas and investment: mastering complexity, monetizing equipment-as-a-service, and meeting the growing demands of workforce engagement.
Mastering Complexity In ServiceOf course, complexity is nothing new in the industrial arena, but the approaches to mastering it are. The efficient delivery of maintenance, repair and overhaul services has become a top priority for many manufacturing companies. Unplanned downtime is expensive – as is lost production time even with annual planned shutdowns, which must be carefully planned months in advance, particularly with large plants.
As global manufacturing demand continues to increase, equipment complexity – and the range of specialist skills required to service and maintain it will continue. But it’s not just a business pressure. It’s also an opportunity.
For example, Valmet Corporation, the leading global developer and supplier of technologies, automation and services for the pulp, paper and energy industries, is using the ServiceMax Service Execution Management platform to achieve its strategic objective of becoming the world class frontrunner in field services delivery for asset-intensive businesses.
Valmet operates in critical, complex work environments, providing maintenance and process supporting services, annual shutdowns and remote assistance for large industrial customers. Planned projects can take anywhere from a week to six months with an average of 1,000 field service technicians on site at any one time, including external third-party contractors, such as welders and specialist maintenance skills.
The ServiceMax platform ensures an accurate system of record on maintenance, parts and inspections of industrial assets, as well as health and safety compliance and certifications for technicians, reduced lead time for reports and invoicing, complete service transparency and prediction around end of life equipment.
"Complex jobs and 24x7 operations require competent planning and as asset complexity increases, demand will become even greater..."
As equipment ages over time, complexity also increases. Many companies often assume that information about capital equipment resides in the company ERP system. It’s a common but erroneous assumption because that’s a record of business transactions of the equipment “as sold”, and rarely describes what the equipment looks like today.
As parts get replaced and after-market components get added, along with multiple software upgrades and patches over time, equipment ‘as sold’ can look very different from equipment ‘as maintained’, which is why assets need their own system of record Whether you outsource your complex service management requirements to specialists such as Valmet, or manage it in-house, optimizing the execution of operations and maintenance is now critically important to increasing productivity and asset uptime while reducing safety and compliance incidents.
Complex jobs and 24x7 operations require competent planning and as asset complexity increases, demand will become even greater. Companies operating their own assets in their own facilities run a full gamut of service activities, from one-off reactive maintenance, to multi-month plant overhauls involving crews operating around the clock. The need to execute jobs of any complexity with best in class service execution software is becoming a mandatory requirement for success.
The Rise and Rise of Equipment-as-a-Service
Equipment-as-a-service continues to rapidly move from a niche notion pioneered by providers of medical equipment and other specialized devices to general adoption. Thanks to IoT, the ease of connecting all sorts of equipment is pushing Equipment-as-a-service (EaaS) to a tipping point. We’re now seeing inroads into complex building systems, such as high-rise elevators, HVAC and facilities management. Construction and facilities management leader, Electra Ltd, for example, one of Israel’s largest companies, is using ServiceMax to support its service community and IoT initiative.
The initiative enables preventative maintenance solutions and remote monitoring of thousands of devices for selected Electra customers. By monitoring equipment, Electra is improving customer service levels, enabling better job allocation connecting the company’s service community - comprising field service engineers, subcontractors, customers and IoT devices from multiple business units – for a holistic view around collaboration, service levels and cross skilling of resources.
"Higher communication levels not only lead to higher performers, but also more engagement, which is critical for customer service and experience..."
But EaaS is not just about remote diagnostics. By charging monthly or by consumption, manufacturers are finding new ways of monetizing their assets. As a result, equipment analytics also represents a huge opportunity for greater insight than ever before. EaaS not only fuels the top line, it also helps control the bottom line, increases customer satisfaction and also shapes R&D for future product design.
Keeping Your Workforce Engaged
With field service technicians at the coal face of customer experience, engaging and retaining talent is critical for the success of service delivery. With today’s technology, keeping your field service workforce happy and engaged is possible. The right technology can relieve friction from day-to-day manual tasks, such as the burden of paperwork and repetitive data entry.
Digital tools should leverage the latest technologies such as AI and geofencing to anticipate repetitive actions and predict behaviours that in turn prompt actions or communications, making technicians more efficient and providing visibility to their customers on the service process. Aside from automation, what’s missing for many technicians out in the field is an easy means to communicate with each other and easily access and share knowledge.
That’s why many of our customers are using ServiceMax Zinc, an award-winning field service communication and collaboration platform. Vivint, the North American smart home company is using ServiceMax Zinc to promote better workforce engagement, which has jumped by a whopping fifty percent. The company’s field service net promoter score (NPS), which measures customer satisfaction for installation and service, is now in the 80s, which is one of the best scores in the industry.
Higher communication levels not only lead to higher performers, but also more engagement, which is critical for customer service and experience. Despite great innovation in enterprise technology, field service technicians have historically been largely underserved when it comes to dedicated communications platforms.
With digital natives entering the workforce, it’s now a strategic requirement to ensure engagement, communication, transparency, security and compliance.
Growth Demands That You Keep UpAs the pace of technology innovation and investment in field service management continues to accelerate, we’ll see these three trends dominate customer requirements in the next few years.
Whether you service industrial equipment, medical devices facilities or oil and gas, you’ll need to be prepared for the growing complexity, changing business models and workforce engagement demands that lie ahead. As growth continues in the field service management space into 2020, the pressure on the quality of service delivery, speed and customer experience is set to continue