Field services and support are key to enterprises that deal with physical assets such as lighting, refrigeration, electrical and HVAC, where workers spend most of their time out in the field installing, maintaining and repairing equipment. Because of the need for efficient coordination and scheduling, it’s not surprising that field service automation is becoming a key factor for businesses that want to improve customer satisfaction and overall productivity. Take a look at three ways in which various sorts of automation are changing this vital industry.
Field Services Automation Software
While the individual services of highly skilled professionals working on infrastructure equipment can’t be automated, the day-to-day management tasks involved in getting your team out into the field is ripe for automation. Once you had to dig through packed filing cabinets to see the history of, say, repairs to a client’s HVAC system. However, now thanks to field services automation software, you have all the data you need at your fingertips with the touch of a few computer keys.
Field services management software helps you streamline your operations and be aware of upselling opportunities. You can also streamline your technicians’ work schedules through automating dispatch and through choice of the most efficient service routes. Field services software also helps you keep an eye on costs through inventory management and equipment tracking. By streamlining the customer-facing elements of your scheduling and management tasks, you’re also likely to increase customer satisfaction and retention.
Field Services and the Internet of Things
The mobility and versatility of the smart devices that populate the Internet of Things have the opportunity to be game-changers for those in field services management. In particular, wearables such as smart watches and smart glasses hold a great deal of promise to those with technicians in the field.
When technicians show up at a job site, the customer or client expects them to have the answers, parts and tools they need to solve the problem. Customers are, after all, now used to solving a myriad of problems on-the-go with their smartphones, so why should an HVAC technician or electrician be any different? The combination of mobile devices and wearables can empower your work crew by providing them with point-of-service mobility and access to complex information, including schematics or instructions for any piece of equipment they’re working on. They can hand over virtual manuals when installing new systems and even order parts while they’re actually on the job.
The Internet of Things is having a growing impact on field services, with Forbes estimating that 75 percent of field service companies will provide smart wearables to their technical crew to help them provide immediate answers and service to clients. Companies that lead the curve in this adoption of new tech are likely to find themselves in demand from customers who are already using similar tech in their own business endeavours.
Interoperability and the Future of Field Services Automation
The concept of interoperability is crucial when integrating automation and the Internet of Things into standard field service management. Workers in the field need the resources to make real-time decisions, and those decisions are made possible through the interconnections of the tools available at the work site with your network and computer systems back in the office. Interoperability provides the field services technician with the ability to collaborate with colleagues with dealing with a tricky problem and even to handle tasks traditionally handled by the back office, including invoicing and scheduling. Porting applications to the cloud enhances interoperability significantly, putting power into on-site technicians’ hands. By incorporating automated systems and wearables into an interconnected system, you can increase productivity, lowering your own costs and increasing customer satisfaction as a result.