Under the treatment of the fourth industrial revolution, popularly termed as industry 4.0, the manufacturing ecosystem is undergoing a massive transformation. The impact of the Internet of things (IoT) is facilitating the production of robust and smart connected devices capable of increased automation and self-monitoring.
As the manufacturing industry is bringing up IoT powdered smart devices that can analyze and diagnose issues with no or minimal human intervention, the maintenance sector of asset-intensive industries like utilities, oil and gas, and telecommunications are also experiencing an innovative disruption in its ways of service conduct.
IoT Analytics, i.e the assessment of the large volumes of data generated by devices connected via the Internet of Things (IoT), provides the maintenance sector a way out to become smart by bestowing it with the power of data.
IoT enabled Field services – The Challenges
IoT integration empowers the maintenance field operations by driving end-to-end automation, thus enabling a space of notorious manual labor to become more intelligent and user friendly. However, there prevail some challenges when it comes to effectively using the IoT data for optimizing the field services.
Integration of IoT data with the existing field service management solutions, managing too much data, ensuring data security, dealing with misbehaving devices are some of the execution challenges.
Integration of IoT data with field service solutions can be complex, as multiple systems such as CRM, ERP, cloud applications, geographic information systems (GIS), AI/data analytics tools, support ticketing solutions, etc. are required for effectively executing the field operations.
Thus, for powering field operations with IoT analytics, there arises the need to update the IoT data in each system, which can be time-consuming, and also the accuracy of data becomes questionable.
One favorable solution in this regard is to switch to a comprehensive field service management software that has integrated capacities of multiple systems tagged above as necessary for the effective execution of maintenance field operations.
FSM software integrated with IoT analytics is worth exploring and adapting as these can help the maintenance sector to streamline its operations, optimize operational excellence and elevate the customer experience.
IoT Analytics- Its Types and Application in Maintenance Field Operations
IoT enabled field services are capable of driving increased potential among the field workforce, enabling them to transform the face of maintenance. Workforce management, regulation of field operations, on-move collaboration, interaction with customers, and service execution, everything can be made smarter, better streamlined, well-monitored, and data-driven.
As mentioned above IoT analytics (data/information) play a vital role in optimizing the field services of maintenance operations. There are three types of analytics possible on IoT data.
It describes the status of IoT devices through visually representative dashboards, showcasing the current and historical sensor data, statistics, key performance indicators (KPIs), etc. It addresses the question: why is something happening?
It has more extensive capacities as it allows the end-users to pre-identify core problems in the machines for facilitating a preventive or predictive fix or improvement in a product, process, or service. It permits drilling into data and facilitates visualization of data correlations and trends. It addresses the question: what can happen next?
It can suggest actions leveraging on data-based rationale prediction or diagnosis. Recommendations of prescriptive analytics tend to optimize or fix something. It addresses the question: what action should be taken?
Driving field services forward – How IoT analytics optimizes maintenance field service operational excellence
- Obliteration of silos: Operational silos often cripple the maintenance service providers limiting the interaction or collaboration among the processes, system, or employees. One of the common reasons for operational silos is the lack of a centralized point of operations that delays information dissemination and decision making. Remote and real-time collaboration upon data is needed for a dispersed field workforce to have a centralized operation point.
- IoT data is a centralized real-time database as data gets recorded in an automated mode. When integrated with FSM software, these data can be automatically channelized towards the on-motion service team. Thus, the field service team is not just always provided with the right piece of information, but also they can remotely collaborate upon that information, detect patterns and take up the right course of action on time. Also, this reduces dependencies on others for data access.
- Responding to emergencies: Maintenance services often face the ‘Now it’s too late’ situation when there is no time to avoid the downtime of a cell tower or to rectify the gas pipeline that is at the hinge of pressure bursting. But IoT can facilitate proactive and even remote response to emergencies as IoT analytics can predict or diagnose emergencies till there is time for action. And when integrated with the right kind of FSM, it can trigger automated maintenance scheduling, identify the nearest available rightly skilled technician and assign the task to him, so that the problem can be resolved on time.
- Getting rid of needless documentation: Managing the on-field maintenance services through legacy processes stifles the business, as it depends too much on human intervention. Despite the best field data documentation practices, it is nearly impossible to predict the maintenance requirement and render proactive services.
- Also, managing the subsequent field operational challenges like task allocation without scheduling conflicts, workforce and work order management, inventory, and warranty management is another mammoth task to be done manually. Moreover, manual documentation is prone to errors and doesn’t ensure data accuracy. Data generated by IoT devices are automated, accurate, and real-time. IoT can put an end to any form of manual recording and channeling of field data.
- IoT empowers ‘things’ like mobile devices, connected vehicles, or devices used by field service technicians, to become participants of the service process.
- Also, the transparency and intelligence facilitated by IoT enabled field services can improve the relationship dynamics with customers by making it more responsive and well monitored.
Know more: Emerging Trends in Big data and Analytics
Field service is the backbone of the maintenance operations of so many industries, and thus it can’t be left lagging in terms of technology. Its digital transformation is a priority, and needs to be continuous and in sync with the contemporary technological revolution.
IoT is the future; it is to grow broader in amalgamation with other new-age technologies like AI, augmented reality, machine learning, etc. Thus, the maintenance sector must make the timely shift towards IoT enabled field services.