IoT expert and construction industry editor, Peggy Smedley, explains how technology has shaped construction equipment service operations.
For construction equipment manufacturers and dealers, quality product support is becoming one of the most important after-market success drivers. Customers no longer want just a piece of equipment…they want a service experience.
Field service departments need to provide quality service experiences that show customers their equipment is in good hands. Access to connected machine data gives service executives the information they need to create quality service programs.
Peggy Smedley, editorial director of Constructech and Connected World, understands the importance of strong service programs for construction equipment manufacturers. She explains how the industrial internet of things (IIoT) can make service proactive by connecting equipment.
In this exclusive interview, Peggy explains how equipment manufacturers can use IIoT-driven data to improve customer service experiences.
Let’s see what she has to say.
MSI: Thanks for speaking with me, Peggy! Let’s get started with a general field service question. In the last few years, how have you seen field service changing in the construction equipment industry?
Peggy Smedley (PS): It’s interesting to think where the construction industry was just 15 years ago. This was a time before apps and smartphones. Mobile capabilities began to evolve in construction, with push-to-talk features first, allowing field technicians to communicate from the field without constant stops to the back office.
Interestingly, Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and then the iPad in 2010 changed the way the construction industry does business. However, it wasn’t necessarily the device that had the biggest impact, but rather the apps. It is all about the data, and apps provide construction companies a way to easily gather data using apps. Really, when it comes right down to it, easy access to data on the jobsite is how the construction industry has changed the most in the past few years, and this is the story we continue to tell in Constructech magazine and Connected World magazine.
MSI: The evolution of mobile devices and apps in the construction industry has been striking. Along those lines, how do you see the role of technology (mobile, cloud, others you are aware of) impacting field service in the construction equipment industry?
PS: The biggest impact for field service is having that instant access to data. For example, a dispatcher can receive updates from a technician’s iPad and can then schedule and dispatch in realtime. That is how mobile is impacting construction, but it goes a lot further than just smartphones and apps.
IoT (Internet of Things)/M2M is the next step in all this. Here at Connected World and Constructech magazine we talk about the future of this space all the time. While IoT is applicable to a number of verticals, for construction IoT can help connect equipment, tools, and more on the jobsite.
Think of Caterpillar; it is using big data to capture analytics of the equipment on the jobsite. This data can help construction companies improve business processes—and ultimately the bottomline, which is the chief objective on any construction project.
Think about the cost of a worker losing a tool. With IoT/M2M, construction companies can track equipment and tools. Then the construction company will have quicker billing and no redundant data entry; everything’s more efficient.
It’s all about keeping costs down and profitability up. IoT/M2M helps construction companies do a better job of that.
MSI: Clearly, IoT has a lot of potential to shape how construction equipment manufacturers perform service. What sort of predictions can you make for the future of IoT in construction equipment service?
PS: There are a number of predictions out there right now about the potential for IoT. Some analysts are forecasting billions of devices will be connected. Here are the facts: The mobile phone market is the largest of the global device market and is expected to continue to grow. We have even had conversations with construction companies recently that are ditching the laptops and are doing everything on mobile devices.
The challenge is construction companies need to develop a strategy for how to leverage all these devices and apps. That is what we are hearing today. There is so much technology available to the industry. Now it is time to really implement the technology.
MSI: How has the IoT shifted the nature of service for construction equipment manufacturers?
PS: We talk a lot about IoT’s impact on manufacturing in Connected World magazine. Again, it all goes back to having realtime access to data. In the past, if a piece of equipment broke, for example, a technician would come and fix it, but there would be downtime. Now, sensors can be built into the equipment that indicates when repair is needed. That way it can be serviced before it even goes down. They can be proactive, instead of reactive.
This works with inventory too. IoT sensors signal an automated notice when a part needs restocked.
We write about this technology often. This is not new technology. We have been writing about this for more than a decade. However, now, the industry is really beginning to recognize the value of this technology. If it can save a business time and money, it is worth the initial investment.
Conclusion: Moving Forward with Construction Equipment Service Trends
If you’re a construction business or construction equipment manufacturer or dealer, this is a sneak peek into where the industry is headed. It’s a lot to digest, but it’s also really exciting! As we move into an era of connected equipment and mobile technology, it’s exciting to think of the opportunities strong, automated service programs offer construction equipment companies ready to take the IoT plunge.
ABOUT PEGGY SMEDLEY: Peggy is an internationally known, highly respected personality and speaker in the media world educating businesses and consumers on the latest technological advances shaping everyday lives. An outspoken advocate and supporter of the construction industry, Peggy is the quick-witted host of The Peggy Smedley Show, the editorial director of Constructech magazine and its sister publication Connected World magazine, as well as the president of Specialty Publishing Co.