Our webinar, Automating Field Service Operations: the Key to Coping with Disruption, was held June 10, 2020 with Light Reading. Throughout the webcast, we received such a large volume of questions from the audience that we were not able to provide live answers to each one – so we’re continuing the conversation and providing answers to some of these questions on field service automation.

If you didn’t get a chance to view the webinar earlier, it’s not too late! It’s available on-demand here, and if you have additional questions that are not answered below, please feel free to reach out to our experts, Mateusz Cieślak and Piotr Stokłosa.

Q: What types of devices does Asset Management target?

A: Asset Management in FSM is a set of functions dedicated to any type of physical elements (customer equipment, network elements, spare materials, shared cars, shared tools, etc.). FSM can be used to monitor asset usage, help troubleshoot devices (also by reusing augmented reality features) or simply inform dispatchers about illegal usage. To prevent fraudulent activities, we can leverage NB-IoT and/or RFID technologies. Please find some use cases here.

In CSP scenarios, our solution FSM Asset Management can be bundled with Comarch OSS functions including configuration management, assurance and preventive maintenance.

Q: Considering that Asset Management is a major factor in the entire operations set, has Comarch integrated with IoT solutions?

A: Yes, we have already implemented solutions using IoT devices. Comarch has an important advantage in this market as we are not only a software house, but also an IoT hardware producer. We design, prototype and build our own IoT devices – beacons, IoT Hub, smart metering devices, e-health wearables, and many more.

In the context of field service management, for the most part, we have practiced three scenarios: predictive maintenance, site access authentication with Beacons and assets monitoring for fraudulent activities.

More information can be found here:

Q: An important use case emerging is residential apartments/condos etc. as working from home is becoming the norm. More people are at their apartments and the usage of home utilities goes up and thus the fault tickets as well – can you provide some insight here?

A: Absolutely – we are observing how COVID-19 has affected many industries. Utilities and telecoms are certainly facing difficult times, with many barely fulfilling service-level agreements.

Many problems can be quickly detected and solved, but some cannot. In many cases, we have to look at these problems in many dimensions and engage several domains. The abovementioned scenario, in which more people are working from home and the usage of home utilities is increasing, is a perfect example of how CSPs/Utilities can benefit from predictive maintenance. To implement it, we have to properly collect data from the different elements (i.e. Comarch IoT metering devices, information directly from network elements), process and analyze the data (i.e. Comarch BI/Comarch Assurance) and act quickly and accurately (i.e. Comarch OSS/Comarch FSM).

Q: Do you have a reference case study with a Tier 1 MNO? What are the main business drivers of such deployment?

A: Yes, we do have Tier 1 telecoms references.

Selected Field Service Management case studies can be found here:
 
Main business drivers:
  • Workforce productivity (increased number of work orders completed at the first)
  • SLA improvement (improved SLA times)
  • Operational savings: decreased number of back office staff
  • Operational savings: less fraudulent activities

Q: Is Comarch based in the US, or does it have offices in the US?

A: Comarch’s headquarters is located in Europe (Kraków, Poland) and we have offices in 34 countries on 5 continents, including the US and Canada.

Q: Can you provide some more context to a statement made during the webinar that “you can't benefit from predictive maintenance without process automation”?

A: Predictive maintenance is a set of activities executed in a few domains, including data collection (from devices), real-time analysis and execution of actions. To truly benefit from this process, it should be automated and run in a closed-loop approach.

Lack of automation in the field service domain doesn't negate the benefit of predictive maintenance, but it does significantly reduce its benefits. Based on our experience, manual or semi-automated FSM processes do not bring results, as they are usually not executed with proper priority when left aside for verification. Additionally, if it is not automated, predictive maintenance is an additional source of tasks for dispatching, which adds to the already large number of other tasks, which increases the overall level of work to be handled by dispatchers.

Field service automation requires establishing repetitive rules and policies in the organization. When applied to closed-loop algorithms, these rules boost the learning factors required for machine learning-based predictive maintenance mechanisms.

Q: Can the Comarch’s field service automation platform:

  • take more than 100 pictures in a single task?
  • work offline?
  • work with low-entry Android phones?
A: Regarding pictures in a single task: there are no limits in terms of the number of attachments, only proper storage sizing on the server side (differently addressed in Cloud and on-premise models). Please note that many modern smartphones take pictures with unnecessarily high resolution. We also have a solution for this, as Comarch FSM can be configured to force mobile applications to scale down resolution of pictures and unify the format before uploading to the server. Comarch FSM can set the standard of pictures for all technicians.

Regarding the entry-level Android phones: application is built to support also entry level android phones. The performance might be decreased, but application will work. Current minimum Android requirements include:
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop or later
  • CPU: 2 cores (4 is recommended),
  • RAM: 2 GB or more
  • Internet access (3G, LTE recommended)
  • GPS module
  • Built-in camera
  • Minimal screen resolution: 720 x 1280
  • Recommended screen resolution: 1080 x 1920

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