IoT has long been touted as a transformational technology within field service management, and its impact will be felt by smaller organisations just as much as their larger peers.
Field Service is being transformed thanks to technological developments such as machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT). The ability to remotely monitor equipment and transmit data back to the business in real time has previously only been available to larger corporates with deep pockets. The reality is small to medium enterprises can also benefit from an agile operational environment and it doesn’t need to cost the earth.
Let’s take a look at the key benefits IoT brings to small to medium-sized field service operations.
Trigger automated actions
IoT connected assets are monitored for anomalies,and error messages can trigger alerts and create work orders. There doesn’t need to be any human interaction in this process which reduces the impact it can have on limited resources. If a part fails, the correct parts can be ordered and then the job can be assigned to the suitably qualified and located engineer for the job.
Increased first-time fix rate
Repeat service visits are costly, especially for smaller businesses with limited resources. IoT can help to provide more efficient and cost effective service delivery. Accurate reports on the behaviour of connected assets help to reduce unnecessary visits but when a problem arises, the right person with the correct parts can solve the problem on the first visit.
Predictive maintenance to provide better service
Moving to a predictive maintenance model, where equipment can notify us when they are operating outside of normal parameters or predict when failure is imminent, can hugely benefit businesses. By only sending an engineer to site when required can reduce costs and administration as well as improve equipment up-time and customer satisfaction.
What are the practical applications for IoT in smaller field service businesses?
When looking to implement an IoT solution, it’s important to evaluate all options. It’s not only about cost, but the full end-to-end solution. Consider whether new equipment is required or whether the technology works with existing installations. One of our customers did exactly that when they looked at how they could use IoT in their business.
The business in question is an installer and maintainer of specialist plant equipment found in the plant rooms of many prestigious commercial buildings. They were seeking a solution that could deliver live operational data on the performance of their equipment to support their ongoing maintenance and servicing activities and even help create new revenue-generating services.
Having persevered with another IoT system for close to two years and getting nowhere, they implemented simPRO IoT and had it up and running in a very short space of time. The simPRO plug and play sensors can be retrofitted to existing equipment quickly and easily, along with the easy connection of existing sensors in place on the equipment. These sensors communicate with the gateway to the simPRO platform through thick plant room walls that other approaches were struggling with.
The sensors are used to monitor key areas of system performance such as energy usage, water levels (using pressure sensors) and water flow (via pulse meters). Thanks to real-time updates through the cloud, the provider can be instantly alerted of these metrics, along with faults on the local equipment console. This has allowed them to improve the operational performance of their equipment and add value to the customer by reducing costs, increasing asset uptime and facility performance. They are able to “sweat the asset” and get more out of the equipment long term.
Moving away from reactive and prescriptive pre-planned work, towards cost-effective proactive management of the equipment, has had a positive impact on their bottom line. Lowering the cost of operations has enabled them to use resources more efficiently which ultimately benefits the customer.
By integrating the core simPRO solution, which combines comprehensive asset and job management, with the IoT enabled live window into asset/equipment operational performance, simPRO delivers an end-to-end solution. Small businesses can benefit from this one-stop-shop approach where all hardware and software are provided, installed, configured and supported by the one vendor.
The simPRO solution allows smaller service providers to punch above their weight, and bring innovative new services into their portfolio to bring a tangible source of differentiation. With the real-world practicalities of simPRO IoT increasing in usage by small to medium enterprises, the onus falls on the field service industry to embrace it for the wide array of benefits previously unattainable for these businesses.
Originally produced and published in Field Service News on 22 April 2019. For more information head to their website.