THE CURRENT LANDSCAPE
Given the current climate, things in a field service operation can go from smooth sailing to disastrous extremely rapidly and without notice. At one moment, it could be a quiet day, but then some emergency calls come in, major problems on the factory floor, new issues can make life extremely difficult.
Although back-end business innovations are mostly characterised by digital transformation in field service, enabling a mobile workforce with connected resources is a key factor. From 2019 to 2024, the global field service management market will expand by roughly USD 3 billion1, more than doubling in size, according to MarketsandMarkets. An increasing demand for mobility solutions that support real-time visibility into field operations is one of the key reasons for this. Manufacturers and distributors that have field service capabilities face the demand for these resources to enable greater collaboration, coordination, and real-time responses. To satisfy this demand, businesses have incorporated sophisticated mobile capabilities within their field operations.
To keep clients updated on service problems, technicians will use mobile apps and connected vehicles and use data from their experiences for analytics, upselling opportunities, and more. Technicians act as front-line agents in this way, building improved consumer interactions and encouraging long-term loyalty. Mobile tools, as we can see have also helped central teams optimise the processes of field service management.
Manufacturers’ field staff are responsible for their enterprise’s single most critical interface, the everyday contact with customers. If their employees are engaged in sales, operations, inspections, or asset monitoring, the productivity and performance of this workforce can have a tremendous impact on the company’s wellbeing. The quality of support these employees provide has a direct influence on the manufacturers’ revenue and customers.
Regardless of the industry, the impact can be debilitating when employees in the sector lack access to the voice and data networks in the workplace. Staff must use paper forms to gather data for a wide range of transactions without a real-time channel to back-end business applications, and then inputting the details on those forms into the computer upon returning to the office.
We look at a scenario in which MHI Vestas has improved their real-time visibility in field operations by leveraging mobility solutions provided by Resco.
Production of renewable energy is a world-wide priority. With offshore wind turbine farms in Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, MHI Vestas has fast expanded from 250 to 2200+ employees, many of which are technicians handling the maintenance of turbines. Hence, efficient servicing of the growing number of turbines has become a pressing need for the company.
“Our service teams work in truly challenging conditions. All our turbines are at sea, where you often can’t rely on a stable Wi-Fi or any other network connectivity, really. Because of the physical requirements of climbing into an actual turbine, the technicians must be mobile. They’re not able to operate a laptop or go through sheets of paper while they’re hanging on the ropes and trying to repair a blade,” explained Thor Tankred, Former Senior CRM Consultant at MHI Vestas Offshore Wind (August 2015 – June 2019).
MHI Vestas have already been running on Microsoft Dynamics 365 when they started looking for a suitable mobile solution to add even more flexibility.
“We’ve been using Dynamics 365 as a platform – not for sales, but pretty much for all other areas of our operation. So we wanted to provide a flexible mobile solution that would effectively bring the required functionality to our staff in the field. And would work fully offline as well – which is obviously a critical requirement for our service team.”
Thor Tankred, Former Senior CRM Consultant, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind
(August 2015 – June 2019)
To address these issues, field operation managers need to close the distance between the voice and data networks in the office and the staff out in the field to solve these problems. Imagine if you could motivate the field workers with a single, easy-to-use, versatile handheld tool that would include all of the office’s features.
Mobility will help you maximise income, irrespective of whether your field employees are engaged in sales, operations or inspections. Mobility turns the field service workforce into a benefit centre, usually a cost centre, by ensuring that all billable employees are correctly captured.
On-site time and supplies, as well as having a sufficient list of products to cross-sell to service technicians, plus the ability to auto-populate forms to include drop-down to check boxes increases performance and prevents mistakes from rental cars and construction to restaurants.
Mobility lowers expenses that are directly connected to the employees in the field and in the activities. Improvements in productivity allow the same workers to visit more prospective and current customers every day, reducing the requirements for personnel and vehicles and the associated capital and operating costs. Visibility into sales orders in real-time allows for just-in-time production and inventory management as well as a decrease in inventory stock levels and requirements for warehouse space.
Visibility in real-time in upcoming service calls guarantees that the correct parts and instruments are loaded onto the vehicle, removing the need to complete a job with expensive return trips to the office. And real-time visibility through integrated GPS on delivery and service routes allows for more efficient use of vehicles, reducing mileage, fuel costs and wear and tear of vehicles.
Mobility Enables Cost-Effective Compliance
Mobility will massively simplify data collection in the ‘last mile’ of the supply chain, dramatically reducing the cost of enforcement, no matter what form of resource you need to track, and whether you need to comply with regulatory regulations or business directives. Scanning the bar code allows for quick and precise inventorying of assets to ensure proper depreciation, eliminating tax overpayment and underpayment.
A mobile app enables technicians to access and work with the company’s data on phones and tablets – even offline, while on the turbines out at sea. It helps to guide them throughout the maintenance process, provide feedback to the back-office, and simplifies access to all required documents and other essential information stored in Dynamics 365.
“Even with our first mobile project using Resco, we’ve been able to deliver it far below the budget, because we were able to build in-house. We’ve only used one tenth of the budget allocated for the project. The only thing we had to buy were the licenses for the end users – so that was a huge win as well,” Thor added.
Mobility in field operations is one of the most critical tasks in the manufacturing industry. Most of the time, the hidden causes of the field force’s low productivity can be identified. Most field forces operate without fundamental approaches & standardised processes to ensure efficiency and optimize utilization. Inadequate or poor visibility into technicians’ activities, a reactive approach to dispatching, and inaccurate forecasting are among the recurring hurdles.
To address these challenges, many companies are searching for digital technologies and advanced analytics that can aid enterprise mobility to efficiently increase their workers’ efficiency and expand their capabilities. As highlighted in MHI Vestas’ case above, technologies such as the one from Resco can help line managers receive live updates on a technician’s progress at the task level and intervene as needed, by connecting experts to the technician ‘LIVE’ via augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). Furthermore, supervisors can identify technicians’ coaching needs by assessing their performance across each mission, helping accelerate their functional development using real-time data. A win-win for all involved.
Resco, founded in 1999, is one of the global leaders in developing cross-platform mobile software solutions. It enables companies to use and collect vital data in the field and digitize paper-based processes through state-of-the-art technology. Today, over 200,000 licensed users and 2,500+ corporate customers worldwide use Resco to mobilize their operations for the 21st century.