What Does Smart Mining Mean for After-sales Service?

There has been a lot of talk about the abundance of smart, connected things, with Gartner predicting that 20.8 billion such devices will come online by 2020. But what is seldom talked about is how the IoT will impact the manner in which organizations manage spare parts, deliver technical documentation, and support field service.

Here are four ways mining equipment OEMs can utilize the IoT to improve their after-sales services:

1. Visibility into real-time product data

When you monitor in-field assets’ locations, performance, utilization rates and conditions, your technicians arrive on site with better and more complete information.

For example, suppose a noise sensor sends a signal to a contact center, which recognizes that a bulldozer’s hydraulic system is emitting a clanging sound. A customer representative can send that data to a field technician, who may deduce that there are air contaminates in the hydraulic fluid. This gives the technician the foresight needed to pick the right tools, parts, and consumables for the job.

2. Smarter technical documentation

Suppose a diesel mechanic reconfigures a bulldozer engine, adding a new part in the process. Given that the mechanic changed the dozer's configuration, on-board sensors register the change and send that information to the machine's maintenance record.

Now let's say the maintenance record is connected to a service information management (SIM) system. The SIM contains all of the 3D illustrations, written instructions, and animations associated with the bulldozer, including those that describe how to work on its new configuration. If another mechanic has to work on that dozer several months later, the SIM will ensure he has information associated with the engine upgrade.

What this does is establish a more informed after-sales service organization.

3. Proactive and predictive maintenance

Remotely monitoring equipment allows service teams to detect operational anomalies and take action before those aberrations result in catastrophic failures. Those overseeing smart mining operations can funnel real-time utilization data through predictive analytics programs to determine when, where, and why certain parts will fail.

Downtime forces your customers to suspend operations. Depending on the industry in which they participate, the costs of such downtime may range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour. So by eliminating disruptions, you save them money. Such a capability isn’t lost on your customers, and they’re likely to renew after-sales service contracts if you can deliver it.

4. Remote service

Remote service enables you to resolve issues before customers even realize there were any. Costly onsite visits can be replaced by remote technicians capable of identifying anomalies in operating conditions and using remote service software to address problems. Elekta, a medical device manufacturer, actually resolved 20% of its service issues without dispatching technicians within the first year of its remote service program.

Before investing in the IoT, you need to assess your current service capabilities. The Service Performance Assessment tool below allows you to do just that. Take the questionnaire to see where your IoT-driven journey will begin: 

PTC Service Performance Assessment