The future is anyone’s guess. But as we enter a new decade, it’s clear that no matter what the future holds, predictive maintenance is definitely going to be a part of it.
According to Service Council, 57% of field service leaders indicated remote service would increase in the coming year while 46% stated predictive alerts would increase. They further pinpointed the increase in these activities as “the result of the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Knowledge Management (KM) and more.”
When organizations leverage these improvements in technology, it means that processes can be improved and new, tech-enabled service can become a differentiator. If you’re looking to stay in-line with these market trends and turn field service from cost-sink to cost-generator, here’s our six steps how:
1. Recognize that the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) is well underway
At a 2019 event about data-driven manufacturing, a Hisokawa Micron spokesperson explained how the company successfully upgraded to a smart, digital factory, describing it as a huge “leap” from one manufacturing era to another. “Digital technology is crucial in moving towards a new business model that operates in Industry 4.0. Creating a service-competent, digital-savvy workforce, empowered with a strong digital-toolkit” requires a shift in mindset.
2. Shift your mindset
Original equipment manufacturers, utility companies, and natural resource industries — to name a few — have typically viewed field service and aftermarket services as a post-sale cost center. Mark Wilding, Director of Global Aftermarket Operations at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence Division says:
“The terminology we use for service puts it second place and puts it at the back: after sales, aftermarket, break-fix. It implies that it is an afterthought and it’s not up front and critical to uptime and quality and the integrity of your customer’s products.”
To shift from a cost to profit-centred operation, the perception and value of field service needs to move to the forefront. Automation is where this mind shift begins.
It is critical to shoot for digital transformation of your field service workflows. Reducing costs is still key, but innovation and automation aren’t just a matter of “How can I make this cheaper?” but deal with more value-adding activities like, “How can I transform my processes to increase my differentiation and revenue growth?”
According to almost half of field service companies, automation leads to the greatest revenue growth as part of a comparison of 10 critical business functions.
Low-code tools for business users and citizen developers make it easy to create and automate fieldwork forms, processes, and workflows. Over the past few years more complex business logic features have been released.
4. Guide decision-making with data
Automation and IoT provide real-time, high-fidelity insights from sensored computer data. Machine learning gives us the tools to analyze and learn from the volumes of data being produced. This information can be distilled into better decision-making support at the frontlines as well as better support for the back-end of business as well. When you put all of this together, one fantastic emerging outcome is predictive maintenance based on real-time data: knowing when an asset is likely to fail. Arming frontline workers with this kind of insight has the potential to unlock completely new service options.
5. Focus on outcomes
Competitively nimble field service operations up their game by focusing on their customers’ desired outcomes. Let’s say you manufacture robots that are used on a production line. Your customers aren’t really buying a robot – they’re buying maximum uptime for their entire production line. When a business can leverage field services to provide better customer outcomes than its competitors, the shift to a premium outcome-based service becomes a competitive differentiator and creates more revenue stream opportunities.
6. Equip technicians with sales potential
“Field service technicians are the hidden sales force,” says the website for Field Service Europe 2019. “Out on the job, they take on the role of trusted advisor when dealing with customers — and this puts them in a great position to start recommending and indeed selling further products or services.”
The largest organizations know this. “No one spends more time in front of the customers than our technicians, so we want to give them all the tools that we possibly can to help them become the hero in front of our customers,” says David Bishop, Director Service Operations at Johnson Controls.
Yet surveys reveal at least a third of field service organizations are not operating as independent profit centers.
Isn’t it time to get with the times? ProntoForms is a trusted solution for industry giants like Johnson Controls, PG&E, and Halliburton. With powerful mobile capabilities combined with low-code citizen-developer usability, the platform can help you achieve your field service operations’ digital transformation goals in 2020.