Original article by Shloma Baum
Within the industrial manufacturing and services sector, downtime is a huge issue for customers – and it’s an area where effective field service management can really shine and increase revenue.
If we look at downtime in general, we could simply say that it is essentially a machine which is offline or not functional during a period when it can or should be. Most manufacturers will use true downtime costs which assists in analysing costs associated with machines being down and it can increase revenue, efficiency and effectiveness, once relevant changes are incorporated which is crucial when it comes to manufacturing. True Downtime Costs (TDC) can be calculated in a number of ways and involves taking hidden costs into account as well.
There are a number of downtime cost calculators available online, each with varying degrees of effectiveness. Here’s the simplest way to understand it within the context of an organisation and its decision-makers:
- Typically, people higher up in a management chain care a lot about financial metrics, labour and costs
- Downtime affects all of those aspects
- Less downtime = happier decision-makers and more savings
- More downtime = unhappy decision-makers and more problems across the board
In almost every industrial manufacturing and services situation, the goal will usually be reduced downtime, leading to increased savings in this context. Achieving these goals typically means winning customers and growing your business.
The question then becomes: how do you make sure you pre-empt downtime to win customers?
CRM Field Service:
Microsoft Dynamics Field Services empowers customers to execute their field service management strategy by enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of valuable resources. Its set of configurable tools includes centralized scheduling and dispatching, native mobile apps, and integrated back-office functions. The Field Services solution improves customer satisfaction rates, enhances productivity, and drives revenue.
With the Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the technology whereby inanimate objects – such as machines (machine-to-machine) are able to connect and communicate with each other, meaning they can send and share data about performance, status and so forth. If you are already using IoT technology in your field service business, you are ahead of the curve in many ways. In the field service sector, properly using IoT is a game-changer: you can essentially redefine what “service” means by doing so. Consider this: most people think of “service” as “Something breaks, so someone else goes and fixes it”. Now consider what happens with IoT: “No one knows that something might break, but a technical person shows up anyway and makes sure all is in good order.” That happened because one of your machines sent the data to your HQ.
“Service” used to be an after thought – something had to break first, and then service happened after the fact. With IoT, “service” is an ongoing thought. It’s pre-emptive and predictive. Your customers barely have to do anything; they are busy running their own businesses, so it’s a huge value-add for them.
They’ll value you, retain you and refer you. With IoT pre-empting downtime, you’re winning customers and growing revenue.
If you haven’t embraced IoT in your field service organisation yet, you may want to consider incorporating it. There are currently still a few ways to be proactive and provide pre-emptive and predictive services in the meantime, including:
- Maintaining detailed performance analytics on the machines you service
- Contacting the customer twice a month (if not more) to see if there’s any value you can add off-contract
- Building in schedule-adjustment plans in case a machine experiences downtime and you need to reroute techs from their existing jobs
The goal in all cases lies in providing value – and cost savings – back to the end customer. Pre-empting downtime is a massive component of that, because most industrial manufacturing decision-makers view downtime as money quite literally disappearing in front of their eyes. As a result, if you can prevent that – especially if you can prevent a breakdown before they even know it needs to be prevented – boost customer experiences and win clients.