How The IoT Is Changing the Face of Field Service
brought to you by WBR Insights
We are living increasingly connected lives as we near the climax of the second decade of the 21st Century. Few of us are ever far from our smartphones and more and more of our everyday devices and gadgets are gaining connectivity and moving online. This ever-expanding network of devices is the Internet of Things (IoT) and it has great implications for the field service industry.
Internet of Things for Field Service
The field service industry naturally lends itself to technology. From the components which enable machines to operate to the innovative tools which engineers use to service them and make repairs, some device or another is never far away.
However, IoT technology is set to even further aid and abet the modern field service engineer by taking even more of the hard work out of their day.
Internet-enabled sensors can carry out complex diagnostics on the machines in which they're installed and report back to a company's field service provider. This means faults can be detected and an engineer can be booked to attend automatically. When the engineer arrives onsite, they already know what the problem is and can make sure they have the appropriate tools and replacement parts with them - saving a ton of time traveling back and forth from merchants, warehouses, and on diagnosing the fault themselves.
With IoT connected components, it even becomes possible to detect the early onset of a fault. With this functionality, field services can act - as opposed to react - and repair the issue before it develops into a work-stopping problem. Customers will be happy that their work day hasn't been interrupted due to a key piece of equipment breaking down, boosting the customer experience and the field service organization's reputation in kind.
IoT devices won't just make field service work simpler, quicker, and more convenient than ever before - they will also make it safer. As many of the tasks required of field service engineers involve working in hazardous environments - posing a risk of injury, sickness, or even death, to employees - anything which can reduce or negate this risk is likely to be welcomed with open arms.
Drone and robotics technology have now advanced to such a stage that we can send these devices into hazardous areas and have them carry out inspections on our behalf. Whether the environment in question is excessively hot, cold, toxic, infectious, radioactive, elevated, submerged, or inundated with any number of other hazards, these robots can enter and carry out field service work with zero risk to their human operators.
Their IoT capabilities allow them to feed data and images back to the operator, who can then support them with human eyes and decision-making. It may transpire that a human, wearing appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), will need to enter the environment to make a repair, but using this technology will significantly cut down on those occasions.
Everyone deserves a working environment which is as safe as it can be, and these devices are working hard to help provide one to the field service industry. As the technology develops, these robots will be able to carry out ever more sophisticated tasks and reduce the need to put human engineers at risk even further.
One thing IoT technology loves doing above almost anything else is gathering data, and this can also be used for the benefit of the whole field service industry.
If data suggests a certain piece of equipment is regularly failing in the same fashion across multiple sites, then engineers can delve deeper into the issue and see if they can locate the source of a design flaw. If certain tasks are consistently taking longer than they should, extra training can be arranged. Connected vehicles can also help make sure routes around different jobs are planned effectively and cost-per-job is optimized.
Data is everywhere these days and field service businesses who are best able to leverage its power stand the greatest chances of success.
The IoT is poised to radically change the way field service companies do business. The evolution of connected devices combined with advances in big data analysis will make field service increasingly predictive, much more efficient, and less dependent on human intervention, rendering the profession much safer and much more profitable for all.
"What was science fiction a mere five years ago is now reality," writes George Walker for Service Muse. "A machine on a customer site can send an alert to the service team warning them of an imminent failure and potential downtime. Technicians can then be proactively dispatched to site with the right parts to carry out urgent repairs and mitigate costly downtime. IoT has already drastically changed other sectors of the industrial landscape and is now making waves in the field service management sector."
Internet of Things technology is set to be a hot topic 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.