Hey folks, welcome back to part 4 of The Paperless Trail – our content series focused on making powerful mobile field service a reality in your organization. In our last installment, we looked at service tasks and how managing them effectively can improve work tracking and increase package profitability. This week, we’re discussing how field asset management can help you improve your service operation.
Let’s begin this post with the basic concept that knowledge is power. This overarching idea, which was a core theme when we discussed information access in mobile field service, is also the core foundation for our discussion of managing field service equipment assets.
The more information a service firm has on their assets in the field, the more opportunity they have to improve—not just their service efficiency, but their chances for up-sell, their scheduling processes, their customer satisfaction and more. It’s all part of what we like to call field asset management.
Exceptional field asset management, the kind that helps organizations exceed expectations, starts with having detailed data on every customer asset your organization has in the field, as well as having that data constantly available to both technicians and administrators. Service firms should know when a specific asset was installed, the customer name and location, serial number, components, service history (and parts used), warranty coverage, meter readings and any other information related to their service offerings.
By having organized, detailed sets of asset information available at a moment’s notice, your organization can improve on both ends of their service spectrum; both the break/fix repair side the preventive maintenance aspect.
To get a real look into the importance of field asset management, let’s examine two different scenarios. In the first, the service firm chooses not to conduct asset management. In the second, they embrace it.
This is Your Organization on “No Field Asset Management”
The phone rings in your call center and is dutifully picked up by one of your customer service reps. It turns out to be a service request for broken equipment at a manufacturing plant. to start, the customer’s information is taken down on a piece of paper or typed into the CRM/database. From there, either the call center or dispatcher creates a work order and a technician, let’s name this one Fred, is notified of the new service call.
When Fred receives the work order (by phone, email or mobile application), he receives the name of the customer (B&G Manufacturing) and the location of their manufacturing plant. Fred responds to dispatch, telling them he’s accepted the work order and is on route. He then plugs the job site into his GPS and sets off on his trip.
When Fred arrives at the facility, he heads towards the administrative office so that he can speak with his customer contact, Jim. Since Fred doesn’t have the serial number of the asset, he doesn’t know which piece of equipment he’s supposed to work on or what the issue is with it. After waiting for Jim to finish up a phone meeting, Fred speaks with him and is led to a material handling system on the main floor of the factory.
When Fred asks about the equipment issue, Jim points out that there seem to be diagonal breaks in the main conveyor belt of the system. Fred, who is looking at this piece of equipment for the first time, struggles in brainstorming a possible diagnosis. On top of a general lack in understanding of the equipment, Fred’s unfamiliarity with the conveyor belt’s components are also hindering his ability to start the repair.
Remembering that his coworker and fellow technician, Henry, has worked with B&G before, Fred calls him up to ask for help. Luckily, Henry has extensive experience with conveyor belts and appears to know what the problem is. Henry helps Fred perform an inspection and together they diagnose that the belt’s fastener plates are too long for the pulley.
Unfortunately for Fred, this means that to complete the repair he’ll have to replace the fastener plates. But since Fred didn’t know what equipment he was assigned on when he received the work order, he didn’t stock the right size fastener plates in his van’s inventory.
With Fred’s chances for a first-time-fix now non-existent, he tells Jim that he must go to a warehouse to retrieve the needed part, and that he’ll be back later to finish the service. Fred also asks Jim if, in the meantime, he could dig through his file cabinets to see if he can find the conveyor’s warranty. That way, Fred can bill the service correctly. Back in his van, Fred logs his service time on so he can enter it back at the office.
What Could Have Happened
Clearly, lack of asset information led Fred to poor service performance. This reflects badly on him and his firm as a whole. Here’s how Fred’s trip could have gone if his organization had consistently practiced asset management.
After receiving the work order, Fred uses his mobile device to analyze the piece of equipment he’ll be repairing (MHS Main Conveyor Belt). He also checks out the issue as it’s reported by Jim (diagonal breaks in belt). He then searches through his technician service portal to find the profile of the conveyor belt.
After looking through multiple service cases from other technicians, Fred sees that transverse breaks have occurred in these conveyor belts before. He sees they often happen when the fastener plates are too long for the pulley. Fred decides this is likely B&G’s issue, so now he can check for parts.
Fred uses his mobile device to search the conveyor belt’s components until he finds the fastener plates. He runs the plates’ ID’s against his vans inventory to see if he has them on-stock. Finding that he doesn’t, he decides he’ll have to stop at a warehouse on the way to the job site to pick some up if he wants to make a first-time-fix.
After arriving on the job site, Fred throws his fastener plates in his bag and heads to the administrative office. He gets on his mobile device to access the serial number for the specific conveyor belt he’s supposed to work on and shows one of the administrators. She then gives him directions to the equipment.
Fred conducts an inspection of the conveyor on his mobile device and determines his original diagnosis was correct; the fastener plates are the issue. Fred uses his Service Portal to access PDF instructions of how to make the replacement, and follows along without any problems. When the repair is complete, Fred uses his mobile device to look up if the conveyor belt is covered under some kind of warranty. He finds that it is; for both time and parts.
Fred heads back to the B&G office to tell the administrator that the repair is complete. He also tells them that, because of the warranty, there will be no charge for his service today. Grateful for the excellent service, the administrator thanks him and takes his business card. Fred leaves B&G with a smile on his face and a job well done.
A Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software: 9 Tips for Choosing a Mobile Solution
Manual paper logs are becoming increasingly incapable of keeping up with the current data loads of modern field service. Having a comprehensive mobile solution is necessary to keep in line with the ever changing landscape. Learn important tips, guiding questions, and to-do’s in our free, educational whitepaper: “A Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software.”