Product and service innovation starts in the field

  • Posted by admin on April 8, 2017

Wouldn’t it be great if your business could leverage the knowledge of your field service technicians to help drive product innovation? Manufacturing service engineers are on the front lines, dealing with failures and gaining insights into what is failing and why — crucial information for your research and development department. Unfortunately, many service techs are already overloaded, rushing from one appointment to the next, never really knowing what their next issue will require. Heading in with only partial information, they are under pressure to quickly diagnose the issue and develop a repair plan on the spot. Running from call to call makes it difficult to manage parts inventory, and given the fact that they diagnose problems on the fly, it’s next to impossible to show up with just the right part every time. Having to source needed parts means a “two-hour repair” can easily become an all-day affair. Without imposing cumbersome extra duties on technicians, how can manufacturers consistently draw on field experiences to catalyze innovation?

Considering the challenges service technicians face managing day-to-day activities, it’s no wonder that valuable field knowledge isn’t always shared widely. But today, with the advent of technologies like the cloud, ubiquitous mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturers are changing how field service is delivered and how field experiences are captured.

By streamlining manual, time-consuming tasks like collecting data, detecting the cause of a problem, and identifying the best solution, these technologies are creating opportunities for field service teams to play a more strategic role in manufacturing organizations. Let’s take a closer look at how new technology solutions are paving the way for field service innovation.

Field and equipment data are an untapped source for innovation

A big part of what’s enabling more nimble field service is the growth of connected equipment, a foundational element of IoT.

Because connected products generate and communicate data on their status, they give businesses greater visibility into performance data, like how and when the equipment is used. Connected equipment can automatically send alerts when it detects an issue, helping service organizations troubleshoot potential problems more quickly.

In addition, it’s also easier than ever to collect field service insights. Thanks to cloud-connected mobile devices, field technicians can document repair notes quickly and easily while at a customer site. Those notes can then be automatically aggregated and analyzed to uncover trends and best practices.

When usage data from connected equipment is combined with field service data, an entirely new range of insights becomes available. For instance, correlating equipment performance data with observations from service technicians can shed new light on why a certain type of failure happens, and help pinpoint the best ways to address it. By using this information in the innovation process, R&D teams are better equipped to drive improvements. Similarly, putting IoT data in the context of service data can also guide future product development.

Sandvik Coromant wanted to provide customers with instant feedback for optimizing their assembly line cutting tools. Using sensors embedded in customers’ products, Sandvik Coromant collected temperature, load, vibration and other important data in real time on the machining process. Working with Microsoft, Sandvik Coromant managed this data with Azure IoT Suite, developing a solution that connects its products directly to the Azure IoT cloud. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 in its call centers enabled Sandvik Coromant to provide customers with recommendations on when to change bits, order new tools or perform maintenance. This service-based revenue stream helped its customers improve efficiency and save millions of dollars.

Amplify innovation with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Integrating connected equipment and mobile solutions into field service programs requires the right kind of
technology. With Microsoft, manufacturers gain the technology foundation needed to connect their devices, gain actionable insights, and address customers’ service needs faster and more effectively.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service opens up new possibilities for your service organization. The solution enables dispatch teams to adjust scheduling on the fly with a drag-and-drop schedule board. And service managers can define rules that trigger automatic work orders when a service call is needed. Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 knowledgebase capabilities, the solution provides built-in intelligence on the spot so service techs know the optimal fixes to try and steps to follow. This helps them better troubleshoot issues based on previous resolutions of the same problem and update equipment information in real time. And this built-in intelligence also helps service organizations identify repair and failure patterns to support new predictive maintenance programs, not just faster break-fix service.

Improving field service starts with optimizing your techs’ experience in the field. Imagine if you could arm your field techs with a mobile app that optimizes their day and gives them real-time access to data about customers and equipment. Not only do technicians have the ability to see asset performance indicators and remote diagnostics before they arrive at a customer site, they get repair recommendations based on repair and performance history. This ensures that techs arrive informed, and bring the right tools and the right parts for a first-time fix. While at the customer site, techs don’t need to capture common information like serial numbers because all the information is already in the customer database. Rather than using written notes to communicate wear and tear, techs can update records with pictures taken through the mobile app. All of this drives efficiency and saves technicians valuable time. And this updated information is no longer confined to siloed repair notes — it can be analyzed and passed on to design teams to make the next wave of products smarter and less error-prone.

Building on these foundational capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service also provides real-time visibility into the status of IoT-connected devices. With data on performance coming from connected products, service organizations can identify problems and solve them before their customers are aware of the issue. Organizations can explore remote troubleshooting and self-healing repairs options to optimize service resources and dispatch service techs only when required. The enhanced visibility coming from connected products helps field service organizations improve customer satisfaction, first-time fix rates and resource productivity.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service can be configured to your organization’s needs, from basic anomaly detection and technician dispatch to more complex, multistep workflows.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service provides a number of unique benefits, such as:

  • Fast and easy setup, allowing technicians to register assets by simply plugging in an identification number.
  • A user-friendly interface that allows any business user, from a service tech to a field manager, to get started quickly.
  • Interoperability with nearly any device, enabling teams to leverage the form factors of their choice.
  • Easy-to-create business rules that anyone can set up — no coding required.
  • Seamless operation in one end-to-end solution, so that you don’t have to build it yourself or assemble parts from multiple vendors.

Get started today

Dynamics 365 for Field Service is an end-to-end solution spanning connected devices and Connected Field Service to advanced, intelligent business systems. Leading manufacturers are harnessing the combined experiences of service technicians, data from connected products, and even data from other sources like call center records, to drive product innovation in new ways.

Learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service and Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can transform your service organization today at www.InternetofYourThings.com.

Internet of Things

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