The machines your field technicians service are rapidly coming online — and, chances are, so too are the vehicles they drive to the jobsite. Smart car technology is changing the driving experience and can greatly enhance how your technicians do their jobs.
A number of early connected car options are already available, such as Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, which can be retroactively installed. But soon, true smart vehicles will hit the road with connectivity built in from the start. These newer vehicles stand to offer the biggest benefits to companies willing to prepare for their arrival.
Smart Technology Integration
When it comes to field service, people like to know how far away their technician is. Smart cars offer fantastic technology integrations allowing you to use GPS, for example, to provide clients with real-time feedback on their technician’s location. Many companies actively use similar technologies to monitor their fleets. (While this isn’t yet widely used in field operations, it is increasingly common among logistics and delivery companies.)
Currently, many organizations need to assign an available car to a technician and plan the route and time requirements. With a connected smart car fleet, a back-end system can do all of this, integrating the chosen car with the route and customer information in a matter of seconds.
You could use the smart cars’ gathered data to audit your team. Which routes take the longest? Which staff are taking too long to complete simple outcalls?
The wealth of data available is quite staggering, from short-term information to longer-term big data collection. For the former, you can monitor a given car or an employee’s performance on a month-by-month basis. For the longer term, big data can be used to identify possible trends in your organization’s efficiency, such as which areas disrupt your logistics efforts.
You can also use this data monitoring to save money. Which cars use more fuel, yet don’t drive as far (in terms of cost per mile)? Whether it’s identifying less efficient drivers or vans with an outdated fuel economy, this data allows you to improve your fleet — and remove the weaker links.
Retooling Your Mechanics
If you’re a larger operation, you likely have your own internal mechanics to help oversee the fleet. Many smart cars are fully electric vehicles, and we’re seeing more and more hybrid and electric trucks and vans as well, both industrially and commercially, which have different needs from standard gas-guzzling vehicles.
Your current support team may require retraining as a result. The need for mechanics to adapt to electric cars is a global problem, but field service managers must train staff in anticipation of their arrival. A complete transfer to EVs will take years, so as long as you have traditional combustion engine vehicles in your fleet, you’ll need mechanics and technicians equipped to fix both.
Live Maintenance Feedback
With smart cars, your vehicles will identify their own problems for you. Is one car suddenly taking longer to do a regular trip? That could be a sign of low tire pressure. Smart data can notify you of problems before they become a larger issue. The benefits of this are potentially massive. Managers can save money through proactive maintenance, rather than reactive repairs.
Order and Scheduling Integration
With advanced smart car technology, one day soon field service managers will be able to easily integrate vehicles into your scheduling system. If a client logs a work order, your system could identify an available nearby technician — and even plan the route.
Rather than having to actively manage each specialist individually, this method will allow a smart system to locate the nearest available staff member and automatically make the decision. This will save both time and money.
Finally, smart cars can help your technicians make a branding statement. When your technicians arrive to the jobsite, they should look the part. Investing in a clean smart car shows your environmental awareness (and your willingness to adopt modern technology).
Looking forward, smart cars will make up one in five vehicles on public roads by 2019. When such options become this popular, refusing to update and embrace the latest technology will be a significant drawback in public perception.
Ultimately, more telematic data in vehicles is a great benefit for field service organizations. Whether it’s connecting to phones and tablets for better contact with the office, enhancing the customer’s experience or using the collected data to improve your fleet’s efficiency, it makes sense to take advantage of this technology.