Till last decade of 2000 service engineers used to visit organizations or consumers as per service plan. Service engineers were constantly on the wheels to cater to their customers located in widespread geography. Many times, either service engineers need to visit remote places multiple times for the same issue resolution for want of either consumable, spare parts or equipment shutdown schedule or customer has to visit the service center to repair their assets/equipment.
The customers, marketing team, sales team, and service professionals were on the different islands resulting in a lose-lose scenario for customers and service providers. Hence enterprises need a robust system that can help them to give service to their customers. They need to have a record of their customers, a record of sale items, a record of transaction dates, and previous history. Enterprises wanted to give a seamless service to their customers in Marketing, Sales, and service. Hence the ERP system should be capable of handling these business functions while keeping TCO (total cost of ownership) within control.
Despite technology development at many places, the service provision is still dependent on service engineers periodic visit to the customers/consumers. This is considering many of the service contracts are still based on periodic preventive maintenance schedule. Other aspect is that due to technology development in Engineering, especially in Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics and Metallurgy; the equipment’s are now more sophisticated but became more complex. At the same time the level of service engagement and complexity for each of product differs based on whether it is for consumers or business establishments. This situation led to need of more knowledgeable service engineer across all engineering disciplines.
Ideally, any equipment needs monitoring of various operational parameters (Like vibrations, temperature, noise, undue emissions, etc.) with capable knowledgeable personnel leveraging his 5 basic senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste). Depending on the criticality of the equipment the frequency of monitoring can vary. The equipment used in a nuclear reactor would need continuous monitoring while a dishwasher at your home would need less monitoring.
Enterprises were in constant need of a technology that will work on a single platform allowing the front office and back office to intelligently manage their day-to-day work. Today the advanced technology such as Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT has reached a mature and affordable stage. The need of the hour is to relook the service management strategy by leveraging such technology.
The below picture shows Service Management vision where equipments can monitor operational parameters themselves and communicate remedial actions to either inhouse service force or service providers through multiple channels.
Let us see few examples.
Self-Monitor and Remediate – Most of the mechanical equipment needs lubrication. Once lubrication level is reached to a certain level a sensor senses that either lubricant needs to be refilled or top-up. Lubricant top-up can be a self-initiated process by a machine based on its idle period. Also refilled process has to be communicated to the back office and front office for recording self-maintenance activities and to fill up the lubricant tank.
Consumable Proposal and Arrange Service Engineer – There are various parameters (for example vibration and noise) that tell whether mechanical equipment is running smoothly as expected or otherwise. If such parameters are not in control, the availability of required consumables at the site or in-service engineer trunk can be checked or procurement can be initiated automatically. The service visit is to be planned by the back office based on alerts on the readiness of the site and the availability of required consumables/spare parts.
Due to technological advancement, there is an opportunity for customers to move away from merely period-based maintenance schedules to the need-based maintenance schedule. This will increase equipment life, near to zero downtime due to breakdown, efficient utilization of internal/external workforce.
Below is the business process and technology view for people and machine collaboration.
In a nutshell, equipment will work like a human being which will tell symptoms and possible corrective actions with the help of intelligent technology resulting winning proposition to all stakeholders. Enhanced Asset Management will benefit organizations due to optimal usage of assets and reduce downtime due to self-service capabilities.
In our next blog, we will discuss the role of Intelligent Technology that will help enterprises with more details.