ABB Uses AI Strategy to Aid Clients With Their Field Service Workforces
brought to you by WBR Insights
Artificial intelligence is not immune to the odd bout of hyperbole, but the technology has great potential in allowing the devices we use in our work to make decisions and learn in a similar fashion to their human operators. Now, Zurich-based ABB is employing the technology to help keep clients' field service workforces on task.
For nearly 30 years, ABB has been supplying asset-based businesses with the software and knowledge they require to keep their assets running smoothly.
Now, at a time when field service workforces are aging - and the need to transfer knowledge to the next generation while still keeping the lights on is pressing - the need for innovation in field service management technology has never been higher.
It's this need which has driven ABB to take its existing workforce management applications and rework them into software as a service (SaaS) offerings. This transformation is being facilitated via a partnership with Microsoft Azure, and the first new product to roll off the digital production line was the ABB Ability Ellipse Workforce Management platform.
"We're excited to develop software in the cloud. It allows us to deliver faster to market and gives us the flexibility to innovate using a modern architecture," said Senior Director of Product Management at ABB Enterprise Software, James Pierre-Noel. "A SaaS model enables us to deliver outstanding infrastructure reliability and performance, which in turn gives our customers the confidence to run their businesses on our infrastructure. Microsoft has really helped us navigate any concerns about moving to the cloud."
The main features of ABB Ability Eclipse include:
- Two-way delivery of critical maintenance information including visual confirmations
- Mobile access, hands-free headset, and voice-activated forms
- Self-service design studio allows customers to set up and manage the system on their own
- Self-dispatch functionality allows users to select work from their work queue, enabling workers in the field to sequence work as required for the situation at hand
- Work anywhere with support for connected and disconnected modes - orders sync automatically when the user re-enters a coverage zone
- Standardized integrations allow for configurable data sharing between applications
- Can be deployed together with Ellipse EAM and Ellipse APM or with other third-party asset management systems
- Low IT footprint
All this is powered by sophisticated AI which enables data to be continually fed back to the base servers, analyzed, and then turned into actionable insights which facilitate further development of the software.
The innovation doesn't end with ABB Ability Eclipse, however. The company recently announced yet another AI-powered platform which is billed to change the way in which field service work is carried out.
The latest platform to be developed by ABB has been done so in partnership with Salesforce and is designed to leverage the power of AI to make the sales and service arms of the business more streamlined and intelligent than ever before.
Dubbed Einstein, the platform will enable ABB staff to make more intelligent decisions, born from automated data entry and analysis. This will allow sales and accounting staff to identify potential opportunities for new business and ways to cut inefficiencies in existing contracts via predictive forecasting.
When integrated with Salesforce's scheduling, inventory, and knowledge platform - known as Service Cloud Field Service Lightning - Einstein will offer even more time-saving functionality to users. Field service engineers will be able to use their smart device to photograph any ABB product or component and have the AI software automatically retrieve schematics, service schedules, and other information. This will allow them to service their clients with more speed and accuracy than would have previously been possible.
As artificial intelligence and connected devices become more ubiquitous in the field service industry, the scope for their application will grow in kind. Not only will these applications improve the day-to-day work of present field service staff, but will also help make the industry more attractive to the next generation coming up.
"The Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating massive opportunities for our customers, making the work we do with them to drive innovation and create value more important than ever," said CEO of ABB, Ulrich Spiesshofer. "That's why we're growing our relationship with Salesforce. The wealth of information we'll get by unifying our data on Salesforce and combining it with our ABB Ability digital offering will allow us to use artificial intelligence and IoT more effectively, so we can anticipate our customer's needs and write the future together."
You can hear ABB's US Country Service Manager, James Crowl, speak at Field Service Palm Springs 2019, taking place in April at the JW Marriott Desert Springs.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.