A cancelled flight caused by a faulty aircraft part. A wind turbine shut down by component failure. A construction delay due to a crane’s broken hydraulic line. With heavy equipment, downtime can have a serious impact on profitability and safety.

Companies depend on technicians to field-service and maintain the complex machines and devices that deliver their products or services—and that’s costly. Forward-thinking organizations are turning to equipment makers that offer next-generation digital field services—a product-centric model that promises optimized efficiency, enriches workforce training, lowers operational costs, and delivers a better customer experience for maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO).

Digital field services present several important advantages over conventional field service management:

  • Digital representations of machines—“digital twins”—harness data from sensors that monitor equipment performance. Algorithms support predictive analytics to proactively take equipment out of production for maintenance.
  • Equipment comes with service built into its design: Sensors monitor performance, and can predict failure and take mitigating actions so machines can heal themselves—leveraging the Internet of Things and Cloud-based solutions and updating software over the air (SOTA) to minimize or even eliminate unplanned downtime.
  • Automated routing engines immediately accept work orders and allocate the appropriate field resources based on priority, real-time worker availability, and the skills needed. It assigns service appointments, and GPS technology tracks technicians and engineers in the field. This dynamic scheduling boosts productivity and reduces customer wait-times and total cost of service.
  • Mixed-reality technologies, including augmented reality (AR), mobile devices, and wearables, improve the productivity and performance of service technicians. Remote assistance apps enabled by AR create a “you see what I see” collaboration between less-experienced on-site technicians and off-site experts—increasing depth of knowledge for the case and decreasing total  cost of service. Field engineers gather information and diagnose issues by leveraging digital service manuals and collaborating with peers using smart devices.
  • Lighter parts created on demand using 3D printing can be delivered in hours instead of days, and lower the costs of holding inventory and of logistics and transportation.
  • Augmented reality enables an immersive training experience for field service personnel, to ensure that investments in new product development are fully leveraged.
  • Manufacturers can develop product-as-a-service or “servitization” pricing models, charging for product usage on a subscription basis.

Want to learn more about this radically different way of servicing complex equipment in the field? Join Cognizant at LiveWorx, where I’ll be speaking on Wednesday, May 24, at 9:00 a.m. I’ll share the top ten trends in digital field services and demonstrate a prototype bionic service solution, powered by Vuforia and Mix Reality, that transforms the capabilities of field technicians.

Author: John Gonsalves, Cognizant Digital Business, John.Gonsalves2@cognizant.com