Over the years, as technology has evolved, the capability to improve equipment service processes has increased exponentially. While companies have always provided maintenance services to the assets they sell, this was mainly looked at as an obligation, rather than a core, revenue-driving part of the business.
Companies routinely gave service away for free in order to cement the sale, even though in many cases services are a reoccurring revenue stream for years to come and, often, are far more profitable than the original equipment sale. This began to change some years ago when features and functionality between products became very similar, and organizations turned to repair and maintenance services as a major differentiator for customers.
The market is moving, don’t get left behind
These days the discussion is around the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and the value of connected devices in field services. Some people are skeptical of the impact of IoT on equipment and asset maintenance. They feel that they have too many legacy devices in their install base, the cost of retrofitting those devices is prohibitive, that they have no way of “operationalizing” all of that equipment data, and – to be honest – they are drowning in data already and have a hard time deriving any actionable information or insight from it.
All true and all an issue, but an issue that organizations are becoming more and more interested in resolving. Regardless of these arguments, companies are not slowing down the adoption of this technology. We are seeing exponential growth in the number of connected devices. Over 50 billion connected devices in existence today are providing performance information back to their organizations. There is little question about where the market is going—the discussion is when and how to include this data in your operational strategy.
Verizon recently noted that “Jet turbines, windmills, trains, quarrying tools and the heavy machinery commonly referred to as “yellow iron” all reside in the Industrial Internet of Things and the sensors and monitors connected to these systems are often performing mission-critical functions. Any breakdowns or latency issues can result in lost time, lost money, and even lost equipment.” This situation defines the opportunity to access this information, and in effect, the critical importance of monitoring the condition of the assets in the field.
As most service leaders know, assets wear differently in different environments, with different customer use cycles, and with different operators. Historic maintenance programs work off of a calendar, where preventive maintenance is scheduled in terms of months, quarters, and years. This system was a result of constraints that existed at the time. Service leaders had little choice because they could not access remote asset data in the past.
Asset Visibility Improves Insights, Utilization, Compliance, and More
With connected devices and asset-based condition monitoring, it is possible to see how the equipment operates in its environment. You can see the asset’s performance decline over time, in real time, and gain incredible insights into when and why equipment fails in the time prior to that failure. You can create operational profiles of equipment and utilize performance data to anticipate when maintenance is needed and intervene in advance of the expected failure.
This condition-based monitoring enables many benefits for service organizations, including:
- Better equipment performance insight – Seeing the equipment performance as it degrades in real time.
- Better triage capability – Understanding what is happening to the equipment and being able to anticipate its maintenance needs. For example, air pressure increases mean you need a filter, oil pressure drops mean you need new gaskets, increased vibration means you need to replace the bearings, etc.
- Better parts utilization – Bring what you need, when you need it, based on what the asset data is telling you.
- Better preventive maintenance scheduling – Advanced knowledge of asset condition allows you the opportunity to group maintenance in a tighter geographic area, increasing technician wrench time and reducing windshield time.
- Better technician utilization – Better insight into parts requirements, less travel and more wrench time drive far better technician utilization.
Taking these benefits into account, what are the outcomes for service organizations? We believe that they include:
- Better customer experience – Technicians can arrive to service assets prior to the customer being aware that there is a problem. The drop-in customer effort once condition-based maintenance is adopted is a huge driver in NPS improvement.
- More revenue – Improved customer experience, reduced corrective maintenance activities, an increase in the ability to better manage, schedule, and geographically group preventive maintenance will drive increased revenue
- Reduced costs – Better parts management, better technician utilization, and less break-fix will drive significantly better profitability.
- Better compliance – Whether it is regulatory, service level, or safety compliance, access to asset data will allow for much better insight and management of equipment uptime and availability.
All in all, adopting connected field service and utilizing IoT will drive a phase shift in your field and dept repair operations. Being able to see how an asset operates in peak performance compared to its condition as performance declines gives service leaders the ability to intercede with the right parts when needed—allowing companies to drive significantly better performance.
Stay tuned for part 2, where I will cover the steps organizations can take to use this data to deliver outcome-based services.