The Internet of Things (IoT) will create boundless opportunities for every aspect of life and business. In fact, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt believes that the Internet will disappear as all of our devices will soon be connected.
Currently, analysts believe the IoT is in the same stage the Internet was in the 1990s. If that is indeed true, then it appears that groundbreaking changes should be taking place within a matter of years. As every man-made object can be connected to the cloud – and have its own IP address – how does that affect the field service industry?
Well, with over 20 million service pros across the world, imagine the boost to productivity. The IoT will change everything from the speed of repairs to real-time monitors. Right now, many things are in pilot mode – but, the trials will soon become the norm. Here are 10 ways the IoT will revolutionize the field service industry.
1. Removing paper and fax
Even in the age of mobile devices, you still see hundreds of field technicians and various organizations relying on pen, paper and fax. This means that it will become an even bigger leap for them to collaborate with the world run by IoT.
Yet, all of our devices, cars and appliances are becoming increasingly connected. These organizations will need to understand how data affects their business – from top to bottom. It might take several tries to become more centralized and contemporary. Nonetheless, the IoT will do away with reliance on pen, paper and fax.
2. Better reporting
After an incident, it can take up to two weeks for a field service technician to file a report. IoT can greatly improve efficiencies by reducing that time to a matter of days. This means things flow more quickly for clients. It also implies that billing and payment for a service event can cycle through much more quickly. As you can see, a faster billing cycle means better cash collection. More cash on hand – and an almost-instantaneous flow of consistent revenue – will allow for improved operations.
3. 100 percent uptime
Imagine machines that never go down. The IoT, through cloud-based management systems, can guarantee 100 percent uptime for machines and equipment. This can become a massive differentiator in a highly competitive global market. Clients can feel more confident knowing their vendor will always have working equipment on hand to fix and/or maintain any appliance within their niche.
4. Connected machinery
According to Cisco, around 50 billion objects will be connected by 2020. Of course, that number will grow even beyond 2020. Consider the fact that 2020 is only a few years away. Objects such as medical devices can be more easily monitored through GPS. Furthermore, heating and cooling units can self-report any maintenance issues. Soon, field service technicians can optimize machines via remote control – from anywhere in the world. As a result, the need for human involvement might be removed entirely.
5. Increasing number of sensors
Machinery can be fitted with sensors to oversee performance data. These sensors can then predict any potential issues before they occur. With industrial applications, this is called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). GE expects the IoT market to be worth around $225 billion by 2020. Companies, and individuals, can then plan scheduled maintenance much more efficiently.
6. One sensor for all
Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a sensor package that comes with nine different types of sensors. The objective is to use one per room. The sensor can monitor multiple activities such as light, heat, noise, temperature, sounds, vibration and more. It can sense when the faucet is running or if a burner is ignited on the stove. The result is the room automatically becomes a smart environment.
Field service technicians can use this type of sensor to monitor any machine or appliance they maintain. Since it monitors more than one thing at a time, it can be used to monitor several machines and appliances at once.
The raw data can then be used to determine the causes of maintenance issues from faulty design to human error or extensive use. Instead of hundreds of sensors, only one sensor is needed per room. Plus, those sensors can be configured to communicate with each other.
7. Become more competitive
The IoT will allow field service companies to stay relevant with the retrieval of actionable and real-time insights. Use of data intelligence will replace paper, pen and fax–as stated earlier, yet, it will do so much more. Field service companies can optimize their operations and even create personalized applications for customers such as software for remote diagnostics.
8. Sustainable machinery
The IoT will help to modernize machinery, appliances and more along with giving us a greater opportunity for sustainability. IoT data can determine the best time to take a machine offline for maintenance. With a continuous maintenance plan, there is a reduction in the need for replacements. As a result, machinery is more sustainable and longer lasting.
9. Reduction in errors
The IoT can guide field technicians to the source of the issues, as well as the best course of action. Accurate and metrics-based management will drastically reduce human error, which, means an increasing success rate. Plus, a reduction in errors also means a reduction in wasted time and effort – which, then leads to cost savings for the client and the business.
10. Predictive maintenance
Field service agents will have the ability to see performance more clearly and accurately. Wear and tear, along with fracturing can be immediately reported – without human involvement. The IoT can learn from large amounts of healthy data to detect any departures of optimal patterns. Any small changes can be flagged in an instant.
When the ice machine breaks down, the refrigerator will alert the field service agent. The data records are uploaded to the cloud, which is then accessed by the field technician. When a repair issue is not addressed quickly, it can lead to greater damage in the long run. Having the ability to receive an instant data record means that problems can be remedied immediately, saving costs for extensive damage caused by unresolved problems.
The IoT is going to absolutely change everything about how we lead our daily lives, including how industries operate. Field service agents will have an unprecedented amount of feedback. This data can lead to even more fine-tuned insights, which improves innovation, which improves insights and so on. This continuous cycle of improvements can lead to possibilities that have yet to cross our minds.