We have been talking for many years about ways to improve field service by adding efficiencies, increasing productivity, providing more visibility, and growing service revenue. Those are great goals and many of our customers achieved impressive results in their pursuit. But I’m coming more and more to the realization that some customers want something different. They want less field service.

Yes, that might sound counter-intuitive from someone who works for the leader in field service management (FSM). After all, the more our customers grow their field service business, the more licenses they will need, right? Well, yes, but that might be a shortsighted view that would neglect what customers really need.

In reality, delivering field service is rather expensive. It requires trained engineers that have to be dispatched, it takes trucks and fuel, parts need to be available when needed, plus many other cost factors. In addition, the organization that uses the serviced equipment needs to accommodate the service delivery, which can be difficult when the service was unplanned. It’s hard to improve customer experience when the equipment isn’t working.

What customers really want is equipment that works without having to worry about service at all. That requires a mind-shift towards the goal of “less service.” Some of our customers are already taking interesting steps in pursuit of this objective.

Remote Service

Whatever service can be done remotely doesn’t require dispatching a technician in a truck. In fact, a lot of monitoring, diagnostics, and service can actually be performed remotely. I’ve seen this applied to equipment ranging from life-saving medical devices to building elevators and security systems. Taking advantage of the industrial IoT, some organizations are building mission control centers with the idea to leverage the equipment telemetry data to do as much service remotely as possible. Many service steps including calibrations, operating parameters adjustments, and software updates can be executed remotely, often without the customer or operator even knowing about it. Sometimes, even new features can be added remotely!

Predictive Maintenance

Some service of course cannot be delivered remotely. If the equipment requires a regular oil change or calibration, a service engineer needs to be dispatched. But such service should be always planned in advance to avoid any unplanned equipment downtime and keep the service cost down. Some organizations leverage the equipment sensor data to apply smart analytics in combination with risk assessment, and equipment strategies to predict when such service should be delivered. Such predictive service strategies are possible with applications such as Asset Performance Management (APM) or with Prognostic Health Management+.

Better Products

Finally, the equipment data combined with the data gathered during service delivery can be fed back to the engineering organization for further analysis with the goal to design a better product. Knowing more about customer use cases, different equipment behaviors under different environmental conditions, and typical service requirements can be invaluable to the engineering organization. The result can be a product better suited for a specific use case, conditions, or with better design to prevent certain types of failure. This type of closed-loop is important to take full advantage of all the equipment data available.

These are just some of the strategies in pursuit of the ‘less service’ goal. To perform well and reliably, equipment has to be serviced and engineers have to be dispatched to perform that service. There is always going to be the need for ServiceMax. But often, less is more and that might often be true also for field service.

To learn more about ServiceMax, please visit: www.servicemax.com

ABOUT Lubor Ptacek

Avatar photoLubor Ptacek is a former SVP of product & solution marketing at ServiceMax, the leader in Service Execution Management.