Service companies are facing many of the macroeconomic challenges that all businesses are facing in rising operational, labor, and material costs, combined with constantly changing market conditions and intense pressure to improve service efficiency and productivity. Despite this volatile backdrop, service departments must reassess the entire value chain to improve processes, incorporate innovations, and enable fast and easy access to information to deliver the effective service lifecycle management needed.
There is a plethora of legacy systems in use in the market. While these may do an adequate job of capturing critical data points, few collate and package the information in a way that is easily accessed and leveraged. This leaves technicians in the field disconnected from the information they need to execute a job in a timely, cost-efficient matter and impedes attempts at driving field productivity and profitability.
In the latest PTC Talk, Lionel Boubli, Senior Director Customer Transformation at ServiceMax, discussed how to improve your service profitability and reduce costs. ServiceMax leads the way in asset-centric service management and provides customers with the most comprehensive set of tools that enable their service stakeholders to proactively manage, maintain and service critical assets across the entire lifecycle. Knowing where assets are, in what condition, and how they are being used enables organizations to reduce cost, increase revenue, improve compliance, drive customer satisfaction, reduce risk, and help meet social responsibility.
What challenges are service companies facing?
Companies face several challenges when it comes to asset lifecycle management, whether they are OEMs, operators, or service companies. The main problem is developing the appropriate business model for the customer base; this could be servitization, co-creation, compliance, or scalability. Customers demand greater efforts from service companies but are often not prepared to pay upfront for the significant investments that assets require. To meet this difficulty, business models have been developing, and many business models are now available.
Customers are also asking for service solutions to be tailor-made, not only when it comes to the offering itself but how they want to interact with their customers and vendors. Another area where there is a strong emphasis from stakeholders is the workforce and organizations. The shortage of technicians is a big issue along with the aging workforce. There is no doubt that attracting talented people into the service area is a challenge.
To service some of the medical equipment used today, technicians must consult a 154 Pages document to find the installation instructions. It is clear that not every organization has digitized everything. It is apparent that the younger generation would like to have an AR-assisted Video to perform the same job. This problem is heightened because many companies work in silos, with the product management, manufacturing, sales, and service teams all working independently.
How to minimize service costs and increase productivity
The answer is to connect traditionally siloed segments of an organization to provide a holistic view of the work required that will allow them to maximize service resource utilization and make work more efficient. By doing this, organizations can effectively manage work requirements while allocating technician skills, expertise, and other factors to match resources to the work required, increasing effectiveness on the job and decreasing the time spent on each service call. Organizations are also investing in tools to reduce the administrative burden on their service workers in looking for work or asset-related information that already exists within their systems. Finally, integrating service parts inventory management and work execution is being pursued to significantly improve fill rates, reduce parts waste, and ensure the right resources land on the customer site the first time.
Many organizations have reaped the benefits of this approach. GE Power's digital strategy involved implementing greater efficiencies around the planning and scheduling of over 6,000 field technicians, improving their effectiveness on the job, and decreasing their reliance on contract staffing. GE Power Services experienced significant outcomes, including a seven percent increase in technician planning efficiencies, a $5m saving through more efficient dispatching, and in excess of a $30m total service cost saving over five years.
Pitney Bowes implemented a digital strategy to ensure their technicians had clear visibility into customer installations; simplify access to accurate parts information, reporting, and consumption; combine disparate ticketing systems into a unified CRM system; and minimize the costs associated with technicians in the field. Over a two-year period following their digital transformation, results included a $250,000 decrease in expenses related to freight expenditures and a $4.7m savings through the reduction of inventory.
An asset has multiple touch points during its life, from design through build, installation, maintenance, upgrade, and then finally decommissioning. What happens is that the asset tells you a story during all this life. We capture and orchestrate that story within the ServiceMax solution by providing the technicians, sales team, and back office staff with all the data around those assets. As a field service management, ServiceMax provides an accurate as maintained picture of the asset and one that is necessary to meet the challenges facing the sector.
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