Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland and we have the best cheese (Sorry California). Anyone who has spent time with me recognizes that I am a Badger at heart. I wasn’t born here but have gladly adopted this state as my home. And it’s a great place, albeit the enhanced news coverage every 4 years. Without getting into too much detail of how, I have found myself introduced to the world of farming and all things associated.
Given my interest in technology, I often find myself asking a lot of questions about the impact of technology and if it has actually made farming simpler or more difficult. Little did I know that this line of questioning and curiosity would lead me down a whole new path of enlightenment, one that touches on precision agriculture, corporate farms, digital rights, and right-to-repair. (We could spend a great deal of time speaking about the pros and cons of all of those topics in a more appropriate forum.)
Bringing this back to my passion around service, my questioning has also led to the realization that the farming equipment of today is quite different from the equipment of yesterday, and this has a significant impact on the knowledge, skills, and tools needed for a person servicing that equipment (an interesting read).
As Equipment Changes, New Skills Take Precedence
Things that we as consumers rely on a daily basis are quite different from where they were 30 years ago. Think about our phones, our cars, our household appliances. These products have gone from mechanical and electronic components to ones that house sensors, advanced networking, operating software, digital displays, and more. And the way service is delivered on these products is changing. In some instances, we just replace the devices because the cost of service is too high. In others, skilled personnel have to use specialized tools to diagnose errors and determine the appropriate path of action.
The same can be said for larger more critical equipment, say a tractor on a large farm, a forklift in a warehouse, a large industrial printer in a factory, or an imaging machine in a hospital. In fact, when we sat down with several field service technicians at our 2019 Maximize event in Chicago, several elaborated on how the nature of service work was changing given the changing nature of the asset. Most were less concerned with acquiring or being comfortable with the mechanical skillsets, and more with the electronic or digital skills needed to support their portfolio of assets. This was further backed by technician-focused research conducted by The Service Council in 2017 where:
- 8 out of 10 technicians agreed that the knowledge required to service products was changing
- 7 out of 10 technicians agreed that the technology demands of work were higher
- 6 out of 10 agreed that the products being serviced were more complex
Adopting an Expanded View of the Asset
In this environment, an adequate picture of the asset being serviced becomes all the more critical for the organization or individual servicing that asset. The definition of that adequate picture is evolving as it no longer just includes the serialized mechanical parts, but also includes the digital components, the software versions, the sensors, and more.
And this is relevant in the context of a service event but also in the broader planning of a service business. For instance, if I need to service machine AA-589, it would be important to have the appropriate picture of the asset and required service to determine which technician is most suited from a skillset point of view to service that asset. Is the problem in the actual asset, or in a sensor that is malfunctioning? More so, it might be vital to ensure that the scheduled technician has the right tools and parts to solve the problem.
Taking a step back, understanding how many AA-589s I have in my installed base and the type of service work that is common on those might impact how I hire and train the workforce to determine adequate coverage. If the future iterations of AA-589s have more swappable components or an increased need for software-associated repair, then those are the skillsets and tools that are needed on the frontlines to ensure adequate coverage and service results. And using the technology of today, we can then ensure that there is appropriate coverage, expertise, and guidance provided for the older versions of AA-589s still lingering in the hands of our customers. All of this information can also be extremely valuable to other stakeholders in the organization, from those who need to know software versions to install updates, all the way to others who would like to use software version information to run integrated marketing campaigns.
This is why it is critical for service organizations to adopt an asset-centric approach in their business operations while also considering an expanded definition of the asset. ServiceMax’s Asset 360™ is a methodology and toolset to support such an approach and can be extremely beneficial for those organizations looking to service and support critical assets. You can learn more about this through the following resources:
- Stacey Epstein’s Virtual Keynote on Asset 360™
- Coen Jeuken’s take on the importance of an asset-centric approach
- Sumair Dutta’s approach to driving regulatory compliance through Asset 360™
- Joe Kenny’s comments on the benefits of Asset 360™
- Sara Cerruti’s take on smarter decisions using field data
I’d be very keen to hear stories on how your products, assets, and procedures are changing. It’s the basis for an ongoing passion project on the changing face of field service. If you’re a technician, a service leader, or a service customer, please reach out to me via . In the interim, I’ll continue to annoy the farming community with my incessant questioning and inquiry.