The IIoT Will Affect Field Service Execution. But How?



Manufacturers and OEMs with deployed capital assets are seeing the profit value of after-sale service, with 30% of manufacturers planning to offer some form of service-as-a-product in the coming years. This is in line with rising customer expectations around equipment downtime – they have very little tolerance for it. After all, customers are ultimately buying what the equipment does, not the equipment itself.

By sensoring and connecting their equipment, manufacturers and OEMs can be alerted instantly to problems (or potential problems) without customer intervention. Where can the Industrial Internet of Things take it from there? Once an alert tells us that there’s a problem, how can the power of the Industrial Internet of Things make the response more efficient? As it turns out, the IIoT opens up a world of response possibility, from connected field service to remote service capabilities. How? Here are seven ways the IIoT improves service execution:

1. Technicians gain visibility into real-time asset data

Having real-time data from an asset gives a technician a complete understanding of asset conditions prior to arriving on site or attempting a remote fix. Instead of relying solely on customers to relay information from the asset, technicians get their data directly for better accuracy.

2. Connected diagnostics for higher first-time fix rates

Connected equipment gives manufacturers the opportunity to remotely diagnose assets. These initial diagnoses allow field service management to dispatch the technician with the appropriate level of expertise, and make sure that the required parts or assemblies are available. When technicians arrive with the correct solution and repair part already in hand, first-time fix rates (FTTR) are improved.

3. Access to contextual repair instructions for improved technician efficiency

Even the most senior technicians need to search for repair and part information. Currently, this process can be time-consuming and inefficient. Consider a technician rifling through a paper manual on the truck, hoping that the manual is accurate, and that the repair schematics make sense in context of current asset conditions.

Contextual repair data gives a technician the appropriate repair instructions in the context of the detected failure and its solution, with no searching. This reduces the technician's overall mean time to repair (MTTR), as well as improves the technician’s experience as the tech can focus on the repair rather than on digging for the right information.

4. Remote service capability

Having access to an offsite connected asset opens up the possibility of remotely servicing the asset. For example, rather than sending a technician to upload a software update or patch to dozens of assets, these simple operations can be performed remotely, saving costly truck rolls. This also allows service managers to use their technicians more effectively, sending them on-site selectively and performing other tasks remotely.  

5. Next-generation service information delivery

Automated and efficient failure detection reduces the time it takes a technician to diagnose the asset, but then what? The IIoT and other advances in information delivery open the door to using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to immerse the technician in the asset’s performance and ensure that the technician receives information in the most efficient way.

Not only that, but using AR for training is ideal for the next generation of technicians who are used to consuming and retaining information through video and highly visual instructions. AR technology provides just-in-time training for new technicians and rarely-performed repairs.

6. Efficient deployment of expert resources

The realities of an aging technician workforce put manufacturers in a difficult position of placing more responsibilities on fewer technicians. With remote service capabilities and augmented reality, an experienced technician can work from a centralized location, coaching and directing on-site rookie technicians. The customer benefits from veteran expertise and the manufacturers or OEM benefits from a less-costly, yet more efficient, deployment of resources.

The Industrial Internet of Things is a gateway to connected equipment and best-in-class service management – deploying the right technician with the appropriate skills, and having access to complete asset and repair information. Receiving performance alerts is the first step, delivering exceptional service to customers through an efficient technician workforce is unlocking the next level of value, more profitable service contracts, and long-term customer relationships.

To learn more about how PTC can help you optimize your field service, you can see how Connected Field Service made an impact for one client here, and learn how remote service can benefit your service organization and customers below: