The Business Case and Opportunities for Remote Service for Manufacturers



Industry Week and Kronos recently released a new Special Research Report on the state of Manufacturing in the USA called “The Future of Manufacturing: 2020 and Beyond.” The subtitle says it all: “The management and technology priorities enabling global competitiveness in the years ahead.”

There are two main themes in the report: identifying future challenges and how the respondents plan to address these challenges.

“The top challenges to meeting…growth expectations are market volatility, rising material costs, price reduction pressures and increasing labor costs. To thwart such threats… manufacturers are pushing hard to improve performance across a range of capabilities, starting with improving production processes, strengthening customer relationships and finding people with the right skills and experience.”

Page 2: The Future of Manufacturing: 2020 and Beyond


Within their analysis of the challenges, Industry Week organizes their findings to reflect both external forces (“Top Market Challenges”) and internal factors (“Top Operational Challenges”), before moving on to a review of New Technology Investment Priorities.

First: Top Market Challenges

Two of the top five market challenges have to do with costs to a manufacturer that can occur during the service lifecycle of the product:

  • Labor costs
  • Transportation/logistics costs

By using remote access or remote service applications, manufactures can respond to these pressures and reduce their costs by:

  • Improving up-time, performance, and identifying product issues through continuous monitoring of assets and predictive maintenance capabilities.
  • Arm technicians with information that will allow for first-time resolution, when a visit to the client site is necessary.
  • Remotely repairing or upgrading systems and eliminating the need for some onsite technician visits.

Second: Top Operational Challenges

Of the 14 Top Operational Challenges, at least five can be addressed by manufacturers becoming able to monitor and interact with dispersed assets. The applicable challenges/solutions we have in mind fall into three categories:

Customer Service can be strengthened and improved by shortening downtimes, offering services proactively, and increasing the overall value of products and services.  Remote access to dispersed assets makes all of these outcomes possible, by giving the manufacturer or service organization real time information about what is happening with the product, often identifying service or consumable supply issues before the customer even notices or downtime occurs.

Productivity gains can be made by having the right parts, tools, and information for service visits, and by reducing the need for onsite visits with remote resolution, when applicable.

The Supply Chain is enhanced by providing real-time monitoring and predictive analytics to help manufacturers to manage the inventory and distribution of both parts for repairs and consumables.

Third: New Technology Investment Priorities

The report from Industry Week and Kronos concludes on investing for the future on page 6, “Decisions on where exactly to invest—or not—will depend upon leadership priorities and objectives…Every new capital equipment investment will be subject to a careful cost/benefit analysis.”

While specifically referencing equipment, the same rigor should be applied to the software that controls the machine. PTC sees this as an opportunity for competitive advantage.

If you are considering adding remote service offerings to your operations, you will undoubtedly run an analysis if you should buy it or build it.

Often, when building, an organization will evaluate in the context of one or two specific applications. With an out of the box solution, manufactures can address more than one business issue while providing faster ROI and greater customer satisfaction, with increased revenue opportunities and lower costs that impact the bottom line. One company’s use of a Remote Services solution reduced unscheduled downtime by 40% and reduced service costs by cutting field service visits by a third.

If you don’t know where to start, PTC has a white paper Quantifying the Return on Investment (ROI) that provides a business case for the Internet of Things that you can download for free.

In Conclusion

Finally, responders to the survey have a general positive outlook on the future of their industries. PTC believes that too. Today manufactures are reducing costs, supporting technicians, and maximizing uptime using remote service technologies. An out of the box solution like PTC Remote Service reduces the manufacturer’s barriers to entry in the IoT, speeds up implementation times, and thereby enables faster rollouts of connected service offerings to other parts of their business. One might say, the future is now.

Not every manufacturer will accept these findings or be ready in the next 24 to 36 months to change their entire business model. But, for those that do, the future looks bold and bright.

To download the complete Special Research Report visit IndustryWeek.com.

And to learn how companies like Diebold and Varian are achieving improved service KPIs with remote access to their equipment in the field, visit the PTC Remote Service page.

Curious About How Remote Service Could Help Your Team?

Learn How You Can Increase Customer Satisfaction and Reduce Costs with Remote Service.