How and why IoT is enhancing the efficiency of field services


Published

Rapid advancements in technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) are helping businesses to increase profitability, improve customer service, and make significant improvements to their field service operations.

Before the rise of digital tools, field service technicians would often struggle with misidentified specs, unidentified malfunctions, and delays from inaccurate diagnoses. Today, advancements such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT have redefined field service management. And these changes are only going to increase over time. In fact, by 2025 it’s predicted that almost 35 billion IoT devices will be in use across the globe.

In line with this rise, a 2018 report showed 42% of companies had already deployed IoT into their business models. Plus, where 48% of businesses are currently using Field Service Management (FSM) software to manage operations, field service technicians can look forward to more enhanced roles thanks to this increased use of technology.

In this article, we’ll clarify what IoT is, identify the advantages of using IoT in the field, and provide some guidance on how technicians can enhance their efficiency using this technology. We’ll cover:

What is the Internet of Things (IoT) in field services

What is the Internet of Things (IoT) in field services?

IoT is a term used to describe the expanding network of electronic devices that connect to the internet. Mechanical and digital smart devices transfer data between each other and the external environment, without the need for human contact. IoT technology also enables connected devices to report into a central hub. Devices include a range of hardware items that are generally used for business purposes.

IoT devices may also use AI and machine learning to make data collection and transfer more agile.

When it comes to Field Service Management, IoT creates a seamless link between field service operations and customer engagement. With connected devices able to sense each other, businesses are transforming the management of time-consuming field service activities such as scheduling maintenance or locating vehicles. Real-time, remote diagnosis, and predictive maintenance are no longer wishes for the future. But they’re now available to companies to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

With integrated technology able to diagnose a problem and alert the right technician to resolve it, businesses are saving valuable time. As well as becoming more flexible and driving significant efficiencies across their field service provisions.

By 2025 it’s predicted that almost 35 billion IoT devices will be used globally

What are the advantages of using IoT technology in field service management?

IoT is becoming increasingly popular for field service organisations, and for good reasons:

IoT for convenience

Automation is the driving force to IoT, which makes field service management more agile, responsive, accurate, and fast. Combining IoT with automated Field Service Management Software will drive efficiencies across every aspect of your delivery.

Better productivity

IoT devices are capable of self-diagnosing problems, which means technicians won’t need to carry out the same number of initial inspections. With more accurate first-time diagnoses, technicians can take a more procedural approach to repairs and complete more jobs.

Proactive maintenance

Because the field service management industry was founded on a culture of reactivity, technicians tend to resolve problems once they appear. Leveraging IoT infrastructures is changing this. By using sensors in hardware, IoT devices can monitor progress and alert maintenance managers to any concerns before they lead to breakdowns.

Improved customer experience

On average, only 77% of field service management problems get fixed the first time around. By carrying out more accurate first-time diagnoses, companies can address issues sooner. IoT saves clients the cost of potential asset replacement and prevents any interruptions to their business.

Increased revenue

Improving efficiencies in field service management means clients are more likely to be happy with the service they get. The result for your business is an increased likelihood of contract renewal and referrals to new clients. The investment in IoT technology also brings a reduction in overall costs. With fewer delays to maintenance scheduling and increased completion of preventative works.

5 ways field technicians use IoT

5 ways field technicians use IoT, software, and technology to improve their practice

1. Real-time monitoring and diagnostics

Collecting real-time data from IoT devices means companies get a more accurate picture of equipment condition. A central hub will receive data from IoT sensors, review the data, then use it to inform technicians which services to deploy, and when.

Rather than carrying out monthly maintenance work, jobs get assigned based on direct diagnostics from IoT hardware sensors. 68% of experts predict a future increase in wearable IoT diagnostics hardware in the future.

2. Remote asset management

Connecting assets to field service management software becomes easier and more flexible with the Internet of Things. Along with tracking assets in real-time, IoT enables remote diagnostics that remove the need for management by a technician or field service professional.

Plans to support field service management with 5G-enabled technology are underway. In part driven by the increase in remote working following COVID19.

3. Predictive maintenance

Companies who adopt IoT solutions will need to flex their cultures to become more data-driven. Accuracy of maintenance data is paramount to driving efficiencies, but good data management can support companies to switch to a predictive maintenance model.

When used well, predictive analytics will enhance your business. In an e-book by DataRPM, predicting anomalies in field service data in a timely way will eliminate equipment breakdowns by up to 70%.

4. GPS Tracking

IoT technology relies on good GPS (Global Positioning System) to track field service technicians. GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that most of us are aware of, used to power sat-navs and maps on our mobiles. Using handheld devices to track employees can benefit you processes in several ways:

  • Accurate, real-time data on maintenance works
  • Keeps employees safe
  • Improved customer service

5. Enhanced roles for technicians

Real-time, automated data alerts sent to your field service teams via IoT technology will drive efficiencies throughout your workforce. By highlighting the scope and urgency of issues to technicians in the field, IoT monitoring services help teams work safer and smarter.

“Dirty Jobs” such as wastewater treatment or offshore drilling, for example, can be better prepared for using IoT sensors. This leads to safer and more comfortable conditions for your staff. Electric power holding company Duke Energy, based in the US, saved more than $30M in repair costs in the first three years of adoption. With more advanced sensors better able to pick up data on their plant conditions. There was also a little-to-no risk to engineer’s safety.

Steps you can take to implement IoT in field service management<

A Summary: Steps you can take to implement IoT in field service management

Many businesses are transforming field service management and improving efficiencies using IoT technology.

With so many benefits of integrating IoT devices in the field, it makes sense. The Internet of Things will enhance the role of technicians and improve your field service operations.

When deciding to integrate IoT in your business, make the safety and security of your systems, people, and your data the highest priority. Following the effects of the recent pandemic, staff and clients have been impacted and may need support to implement changes. And, with the shift to more remote working, COVID19 has accelerated the digital transformation of many businesses. This makes 2020 a wise point to consider introducing it.

Make sure to educate your teams on the benefits of IoT. They will need to understand the importance of switching your company culture to more data-driven, remote operations. Visit our pages for more information on how field management software can support IoT integration.