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Seven Trends to Watch in Field Service
Brought to you by WBR Insights
Field service is constantly-evolving and forward-thinking providers are continuously innovating to better serve their clients. From new ways of training the next generation of field service engineers to the incorporation of Industry 4.0 technology and more, there are tons of new ways to bring maintenance and service into the 21st Century.
Some of these innovations are little more than incidental ideas and aren't seen in more than a handful of providers. However, some are so promising that they've become trends and led to a paradigm shift in the way field service business is carried out.
Here are seven such trends you should be keeping your eyes on as we move through the second half of 2019 and beyond.
#1 Internet of Things (IoT)
Connected technology is empowering field service providers to stop reacting and become proactive. With internet-enabled sensors built into critical machines, potential failures can be detected when they are in their very early stages, or before they even begin.
This means an engineer can be dispatched to repair the issue and large-scale shutdowns can be avoided - saving the client time and money.
#2 Remote Diagnostics
Another way IoT technology is making field service a more efficient machine is through remote diagnostics.
There are few things in the industry more frustrating than showing up to a callout, having to dismantle a machine to work out what the issue is, then leave the site to go and get the parts and/or tools required to fix it - only to return once again to finish the job. With connected technology, the problem can often be diagnosed remotely, meaning engineers can arrive on site armed with all the information and the correct equipment they need to complete the task on a single visit.
#3 Automated Scheduling
It used to be a massive challenge for field service administrators to process last-minute jobs and emergency callouts. They would often have to go through cumbersome manual processes to figure out which engineer could be rerouted to attend the job - all without letting other clients down, and without significant additional traveling time.
However, with sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning software in play, scheduling programs can calculate all this automatically and find the best engineer for the job with the absolute minimum of disruption.
Gone are the days when field service engineers would have to call the office every time a new issue arose. Now, thanks to mobile technology, anything an engineer might require is available to them at the touch of a button.
Cloud-based software enables engineers to access schematics and other job-critical information wherever they are using a device. They can also access parts inventory to make sure a particular component is in stock and can receive alerts to altered schedules, jobs running over time, and a ton of other information.
#5 Driverless Vehicles
The full rollout of driverless vehicles may be a little while off yet, but we're starting to see them slowly populate our roads thanks to innovative car companies such as Tesla.
It is estimated that a field service business with a driverless vehicle fleet could save anything between $16,000 and $500,000 per year by eliminating accidents caused by human error. Driverless vehicles will also be able to follow schedules to the letter and easily find the most optimal routes to ensure engineers reach each appointment on time, every time.
#6 The Aging Workforce
One of the biggest challenges facing the field service industry right now is the aging workforce. Baby boomers are now reaching retirement age, and there is a severe shortage of young people choosing field service as a career path.
Millennials and the older end of Gen Z tend to gravitate towards technology- and service-based jobs such as digital marketing or app development. The challenge, then, is figuring out how to attract this demographic to the industry.
#7 Augmented Reality
Since a certain mobile game featuring collectible Japanese monsters dropped a few years ago (that's Pokemon Go, by the way), augmented reality technology has grown from being a simple novelty to a powerful part of many business strategies.
In field service, AR-powered glasses can be used to superimpose schematics over real-life machines to help with maintenance and repairs. They can also be used to help clients carry out minor repairs themselves while being guided over the phone by a qualified engineer - often removing the need for a callout altogether.
There are seven big trends to keep your eyes on over the next year or so. With the development of new technology moving at such a breakneck pace, it's exciting to imagine what other amazing innovations might be just around the corner.
These trends and more are set to be hot topics at Field Service Europe 2019, taking place this December at the NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.