3D printers, medical equipment, wind turbines and refrigeration equipment are just a few types of equipment that may need after-sales service.
1. Asset, Parts Monitoring and Inventory Management in After-Sales ServiceWherever the equipment is delivered, identification of their location is key for reaching if a repair is needed. In that case, IoT technology enables you to track assets indoor and outdoor to save time on searching for them. Having access to the equipment’s location, also allows you to confirm it is delivered to the intended place, and not misplaced or stolen. Similarly, technicians may track parts for their side of the work or for inventory management tasks.
2. Effective Work Order Management - Equipment MaintenanceWork orders related to installation, maintenance, and ah-hoc repairs should be kept in one place. By doing so, we can calculate the average service cost for a given equipment (or a particular type), used materials, and all labor costs. While some companies still operate using excel sheets, others have implemented a field service management software. This software not only supports an organization of work orders but also automates assignment of tasks based on the pre-defined rules adjusted to the company’s business priorities, and with optimal routes planning to the client’s location and technicians’ skills. Additionally, both internal and external mobile workers are equipped with the same mobile app for managing those tasks, which gives the certainty that all data are of the same format, enabling better analysis of their performance.
3. Preventive Maintenance or Periodical Supply DeliveriesAfter the installation process, maintaining the equipment in a healthy condition requires at least some periodical service visits to check its state and perform basic maintenance. Keeping track of all the maintenance visits may turn out be the main hurdle for equipment providers, especially technicians who usually are overwhelmed with ad-hoc tasks. Similarly, managing periodical supplies to locations require planning in advance.
The easiest way to streamline those processes is to treat those types of tasks as other work orders – with a scheduled time and date under one system enabling to track maintenance activities, as mentioned in the field service management system.
4. Condition-based Maintenance of EquipmentTo get on the higher level with maintenance management you should memorize two words - predictive maintenance, which simply means applying IoT devices and thanks to that - equipment diagnostics. By collecting data on some anomalies such as – unexpected vibrations, incorrect oil levels, or outstanding humidity or water detection, you may receive some recommendations on what to check, where to check, and whether this is a priority or not. If you integrate this technology with a field service management software, the mobile technicians will receive automatically generated tasks on their mobile phones or tablets.
5. Returns ManagementAlthough you may spend a great amount of effort on maintenance, sometimes, the equipment can be faulty from the beginning, and eventually it must be replaced. The problem arises again with tracking its location – whether it is at the client’s premises, manufacturer’s warehouse or has been replaced. The extra features of field service management system allows you to track the ID of the asset and its current status. Access to the location can assure you where the asset currently is and what stage it is during the return process.
Gradual automation of after-sales service and maintenanceOngoing servitization trends forces equipment providers to automate their current processes and therefore they are now faced with a challenge on how to perform that automation.
By identifying the most cost-generating areas, equipment and supply providers may implement digital transformation gradually. For instance, starting with automating asset tracking and work order management following the company’s decision makers the analysis, they may extend the scope of automation by installing sensors for chosen equipment or streamlining returns processes.
The journey to automation requires a great deal of time spent on process and performance analysis. Our 13 KPIs to improve field service management article provides more details on field service management and how to successfully manage all aspects.
It is also recommended to spend time on case studies and industry benchmarks to see the full picture of the possible transformation. After all, you should get the best out of the opportunities in front of you.