Remote Monitoring / Field Services Management / Predictive Maintenance

Field service management's moment in the spotlight

Sheila Kennedy says connected field service management tools enable better planning, visualization.

By Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, contributing editor

The latest mobility solutions, bolstered by artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D modeling, and the internet of things (IoT), are turning field service management (FSM) into an art form. They are upgrading how practitioners communicate, make decisions, and achieve reliability, efficiency, asset longevity, and customer satisfaction objectives. They are also enabling new business models.

Pioneering platforms

Field workers can communicate with individuals or in groups using text, voice, video, content sharing, and push-to-talk through the integration of cloud-based mobile FSM solution Predix ServiceMax from GE Digital with Zinc’s secure, all-mode communication platform.

“Zinc’s integration with ServiceMax arms technicians with real-time communication and access to relevant people within the context of their work orders,” says Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc. “As a result, field-service teams can work smarter and faster, significantly impacting customer satisfaction.”

Technicians can only deliver superior service to customers when they have access to the right tools, data, and work-order history, adds Scott Berg, CEO of ServiceMax from GE Digital. By integrating with Zinc, technicians can communicate in real time about vital aspects of a work order, from the contract to the product itself, he explains.

Crowd Service capabilities in Coresystems’ AI-based FSM platform allow organizations to crowdsource, triage, diagnose, and resolve field-service needs in real time. “When a service technician or remote support is needed, Coresystems automatically finds the best match from a service marketplace of employees, partners, and freelancers to get the job done faster and more efficiently than before,” explains Jeff Bonnell, VP of industry solutions at Coresystems, now part of the SAP Service Cloud portfolio.

The Crowd Service concept offers manufacturers and independent service organizations the agility to access needed talent, deliver a world-class customer experience, minimize downtime, and lower service costs, says Bonnell.

IFS Field Service Management software supports the industrial servitization trend, wherein traditionally product-focused companies add strategic services to complement product sales or to replace product sales with outcome-based agreements. It offers connected functionality for workforce management, scheduling, planning, asset management, inventory, reverse logistics, and repair.

“IFS can operationalize the IoT while giving the customer the ability to monetize these efforts with deep contract management, warranty management, and billing,” says Tom DeVroy, senior product evangelist at IFS North America. “That means we can handle more-complex business models or enable businesses to adopt more-advanced business approaches to outflank their competitors.”

Field Service Edge from ClickSoftware, a cloud-based mobile workforce management platform, uses AI and IoT technology to enable predictive field service. Demand forecasting aids in resource planning and optimization, and scheduling accuracy is improved through integration of live traffic conditions, rapid creation of customer forms, and multifactor authentication.

Immersive digital enablers

3D-modeling-enabled immersive digital operations help streamline field service, decrease inspection costs, and allow for making faster and better-informed decisions. “Imagine avoiding a trip to a site to check or measure something because you have a georeferenced, spatially linked 3D model right in front of you on a web browser,” suggests Sandra DiMatteo, director of asset performance at Bentley Systems.

By combining asset information with a 3D reality mesh automatically created from photographs taken by a camera or drone/unmanned aerial vehicle, field technicians can more easily access information and associated documents and obtain intelligence about the assets they are servicing, DiMatteo explains.

The new Skills Insight Intelligent Wearables from Honeywell are voice-activated, head-mounted displays that visualize live data and documents, connect field workers with remote experts, enable training, and include geolocation, navigation, and safety capabilities. The Connected Plant technology combines RealWear’s HMT-1Z1 handsfree wearable computer with Honeywell’s Movilizer platform.

Cross-fleet services

Industrial operators and power-plant owners can have a single entity provide long-term services support for gas turbines from multiple manufacturers. The cross-fleet solutions portfolio from GE’s Power Services business includes inspections, maintenance, upgrades, outcome-based service agreements, remote monitoring, and more for GE and certain other OEM brands of gas turbines.

This “helps increase the flexibility, reliability, and efficiency of the assets, and the extension of intervals between outages results in fewer outages and creates better overall performance,” says Martin O’Neill, aero/gas turbine cross-fleet product line leader for GE’s Power Services business. “The addition of digital solutions allows for predictive maintenance capabilities and 24/7 remote monitoring of the assets, helping to eliminate unplanned downtime.”