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Uses of IoT in Field Service Management



Summary:


Integrating IoT (Internet of Things) in field service management has revolutionized various aspects, from tracking assets and technicians to remote diagnostics and proactive maintenance. IoT devices provide real-time data, enabling companies to offer enhanced customer experiences and derive insights for performance improvements. The choice of sensors and protocols is crucial and varies based on specific application needs. Furthermore, the rise of IoT has paved the way for diverse business models, allowing companies to monetize their services in various ways, from subscription models to performance-based or pay-per-use systems.


Key Highlights:


IoT Applications in Field Service Management:


  • Technician and Equipment Location: Real-time tracking enhances customer service and inventory management.

  • Remote Monitoring: Allows for off-site checks on equipment health.

  • Proactive Maintenance: Identifies potential issues before breakdowns occur.

  • Data Analysis: Provides insights into equipment performance trends.

  • Enhancing Customer Experience: Offers transparency into equipment performance.

Sensors and Protocols:


  • Asset Tracking: Uses GPS sensors and RFID tags.

  • Remote Monitoring: Employs vibration, temperature, and fuel level sensors.

  • Maintenance and Updates: Utilizes OTA modules for software updates.

  • Data Analysis: Uses current sensors and operational time counters.

  • Customer Experience: Incorporates user interface panels for feedback.

Business Models Spawned by IoT:


  • Subscription-Based: Recurring fee for IoT services.

  • Data-as-a-Service (DaaS): Selling aggregated data or insights.

  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Platform for deploying IoT applications.

  • Performance-Based: Charging based on service outcomes.

  • Pay-per-Use: Fees based on service usage frequency.

  • Asset Sharing or Leasing: Real-time tracking of leased equipment usage.

  • Service Differentiation: Tiered services based on features.

  • Freemium Model: Basic services for free with premium features at a cost.

  • Integrated Service Offerings: Bundling IoT services with other offerings.

  • Value-Added Reselling: Partnering with IoT manufacturers for reselling.


Benefits of IoT in Field Service Management


IoT offers multiple benefits to companies in the realm of field service management:


Asset Tracking and Inventory Management

  • Technician Location: IoT devices in company vehicles allow for real-time tracking of technicians. This enables dispatchers to provide customers with accurate updates on technician's whereabouts, enhancing customer service.

  • Equipment Location: IoT aids in inventory management by pinpointing the location of items. This is especially crucial for high-value equipment that demands precise tracking.


Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics

  • Equipment Health: IoT devices can gather data such as a power generator's uptime, fuel levels, and error codes. This allows technicians to assess the condition of equipment remotely, eliminating the need for on-site manual checks.


Proactive Maintenance and Software Updates

  • Preventive Action: IoT enables technicians to identify and rectify potential issues before equipment breaks down, leading to cost and time savings.

  • Software Management: Devices like automation tools or elevators often need software updates. IoT facilitates the monitoring and updating of this software, ensuring tools remain up-to-date and secure.


Data Analysis and Insights

  • Performance Metrics: IoT devices supply real-time and historical data on equipment performance metrics, such as energy usage. Analyzing this data provides service companies with valuable insights into performance trends and potential areas of enhancement.


Enhancing Customer Experience

  • Transparency: IoT offers customers greater visibility into the performance of their equipment, leading to a more informed and satisfactory service experience.


Sensors and Protocols for Field Service Management


For the various IoT applications in field service management mentioned above, a variety of sensors and protocols are employed. Here's a breakdown:



Asset Tracking and Inventory Management

  • Sensors:

    • GPS Sensors: For real-time location tracking of vehicles and high-value equipment.

    • RFID Tags: For inventory management and tracking of equipment and parts.


  • Protocols:

    • GPS: For location tracking.

    • NFC (Near Field Communication): For short-range communication with RFID tags.

    • LoRa (Long Range): For long-distance, low-power communication.


Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics

  • Sensors:

    • Vibration Sensors: To detect anomalies in machinery.

    • Temperature Sensors: To monitor equipment temperature.

    • Fuel Level Sensors: For monitoring fuel levels in generators.

    • Diagnostic Error Code Readers: To retrieve error codes from machinery.


  • Protocols:

    • MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport): Lightweight messaging protocol for small sensors and mobile devices.

    • CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol): For devices with limited processing capabilities.


Proactive Maintenance and Software Updates

  • Sensors:

    • OTA (Over-The-Air) Modules: For remote software updates.

  • Protocols:

    • HTTP/HTTPS: Commonly used for OTA updates.

    • MQTT: For pushing update notifications.

Data Analysis and Insights

  • Sensors:

    • Current Sensors: To measure energy consumption.

    • Operational Time Counters: To monitor equipment uptime.

  • Protocols:

    • HTTP/HTTPS: For sending data to cloud platforms for analysis.

    • WebSocket: For real-time data communication.

Enhancing Customer Experience

  • Sensors:

    • User Interface Panels: For customers to interact with and get feedback from their equipment.

  • Protocols:

    • Bluetooth: For short-range communication between equipment and user devices.

    • Wi-Fi: For connecting equipment to local networks and the internet.


The choice of sensors and protocols can vary based on the specific requirements of the application, the environment in which they're deployed, and other factors.


Business Models


IoT applications in field service management have given rise to various business models. These models leverage the capabilities of IoT to create value for both service providers and their customers. Here are some prevalent business models associated with IoT in field service management:


Subscription-Based Model

  • Companies charge customers a recurring fee for access to IoT-enabled services. This could include software updates, real-time monitoring, or predictive maintenance services.


Data-as-a-Service (DaaS)

  • With the vast amount of data generated by IoT devices, companies can aggregate, process, and sell this data or insights derived from it to interested parties. For instance, equipment manufacturers might be interested in usage data to improve their products.


Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

  • Companies provide a platform for equipment manufacturers or other businesses to deploy their IoT applications. This model is especially beneficial for businesses that want to avoid investing in building their own IoT infrastructure.


Performance-Based Model

  • Here, customers pay based on the performance or outcome of the service. For instance, a company might guarantee a certain uptime for a piece of equipment and charge based on meeting (or not meeting) that guarantee.


Pay-per-Use Model

  • Customers are charged based on how often they use a service. For instance, a diagnostic service might charge each time it's used rather than a flat monthly fee.


Asset Sharing or Leasing

  • IoT can enable "smart" asset sharing or leasing. For instance, high-value equipment embedded with IoT sensors can be leased out, and usage can be tracked in real-time. Customers pay based on the duration or intensity of their usage.


Service Differentiation

  • Companies can offer tiered services, with basic services at a lower cost and premium (often IoT-enhanced) services at a higher price point. For instance, a basic maintenance package might offer traditional service calls, while a premium package includes predictive maintenance alerts.


Freemium Model

  • Basic services are offered for free, with advanced features or services available for a fee. This model can be used to introduce customers to the benefits of IoT-enhanced services and upsell them later.


Integrated Service Offerings

  • Companies bundle IoT services with other offerings. For instance, an equipment sale might come with a year of free monitoring or maintenance services.


Value-Added Reselling

  • Service providers can partner with IoT device manufacturers to resell devices as part of a larger service package, adding their value-added services.

As IoT continues to evolve and integrate deeper into field service management, new and innovative business models will emerge. Companies should remain agile and open to adapting their models to serve their customers best and remain competitive.


Sources


  1. Iot Field Services [5 Methods to Implement + 5 Benefits]: This blog post discusses how the Internet of Things is innovating field service management and how IoT field services are helping many businesses.

  2. How to Use IoT in the Field Service Industry: This article explains why the Internet of Things (IoT) is not a passing fad and how it can be used to improve your business in the field service industry.

  3. How IoT Can Better Connect Field Service Operations - Comparesoft: This resource discusses how IoT creates a seamless link between field service operations and customer engagement.

  4. IoT & Field Service 2023 | How The Industry Has Transformed - SelectHub: This article provides insights into how IoT is a critical digital extension that helps field service organizations adopt a wide range of activities starting from remote monitoring, preventive and predictive maintenance, and going up to self-healing or self-correcting.


Volkmar Kunerth CEO Accentec Technologies LLC & IoT Business Consultants Email: kunerth@accentectechnologies.com Website: www.accentectechnologies.com | www.iotbusinessconsultants.com Phone: +1 (650) 814-3266

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