6th August 2015
Mobile technology is a key enabler for those within field service industries and essential to the success of their operation. As technology evolves to further improve the efficiency of field services we look at what the future holds
For those within field service industries, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptops and smart phones are commonplace. Mobile technology has proved vital to improving productivity, streamlining workflows and ROI. However, there is still room for improvement, with new technologies that have the potential to provide those within field service the means to become proactive rather than reactive.
Cloud and mobile technologies along with the demand for increased productivity and “one device to rule them all” is driving fourth the development of innovative new hardware and field service management software that is to become the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT will allow all connected devices to be controlled by a master or parent device, which has the potential to allow field services to provide customers with accurate estimates, cut costs and manage their overall operation more effectively.
Global Positioning System (GPS): GPS itself is not new, but the development of indoor GPS with the ability to locate individuals or navigate a building is. In a recent blog post we mentioned First Sign, which can monitor the health of workers and locate them within a building. Another company dedicated to indoor mapping technology is Infsoft. Their navigation technology takes the power of traditional GPS and applies the concept to the interior of complex buildings. This technology will enable field service workers to locate equipment, find other team members on-site and track down the contact person for a service order. Added to this, knowing the location and status of your workforce and their vehicles can significantly improve customer service as staff can be quickly deployed depending on where they are.
3D Printing: For those in field services, 3D printers could provide the ability to print parts on demand either from their vans or a depot, something that would significantly improve first-time fix rates. As explained on FieldService.com, “…3D printing out-of-the-van may not be practical. [However] There is still a valuable role for this technology in field service — as an on-demand producer of parts that are hard-to-find or can take several days or weeks to arrive.”
Depots would provide the ideal location for 3D printers, as the environment could be closely controlled. Added to this, installing one printer at each depot that would serve a high volume of staff would prove to be more efficient and cost effective than installing one in each van. The ability to connect mobile devices to these printers would significantly reduce the time taken to locate and order parts, improving customer service and ROI. This could be the solution field service organisations have been waiting for.
Service Management Software: The ability to control and monitor scheduling and routing optimisation, vehicle location, remote vehicle diagnostics, driver logs and hours-of-service tracking, inventory, field workers and driver safety is critical. Those within field service industries need to ensure they’re provided with the most accurate data to maintain high standards of service, which requires the ability to access business systems via mobile devices. NAVservice along with NAVmobile is one solution that provides businesses with the ability to effectively manage their entire operation within one companywide system. Furthermore, real-time, accurate data informs managers and field staff so they may make strategic decisions and complete jobs on-time, resulting in reduced operational costs and better customer satisfaction.
As explained on FieldServiceNews.com, “Deploying workforce management solutions with sophisticated analytics tools will enable managers to improve operations with real-time visibility into their operations. Data gathered from smarter mobile apps and equipment sensors will provide insights on performance, tasks, service quality, and new products that will enable field service managers to not only keep up with the competition but to step ahead.”
As field service businesses improve performance by using mobile and back-office service management software, customers will expect more from their service experience. These increased customer demands will fuel competition, which will increase the rate in which businesses adopt new mobile solutions.
By utilising technology that is to become the IoT, including advanced analytics and smartphone/tablet and wearable device integration, field service businesses will be able to harness data and interpret it to become more competitive. Furthermore, this intelligence will enable them to create a preventive, predictive and proactive operation, opposed the reactive model they have now.