Field service management in the era of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
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Field service management in the era of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

According to Wikipedia the term Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of devices (the Things) through the Internet so they can collect and share data without human assistance.

There is a wide range of different IoT devices ranging from smart thermostats to soils sensors used for smart agriculture. Even IoT wearable devices can be mounted on people to track vital health status and sent back via Internet to the hospitals or medical centers. All of this represents a true disruptive transformation across multiple market segments, ranging from consumer, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing and utilities to government and cities.

Industrial IoT (IIoT), a subset of the larger IoT, focuses on the specialized requirements of industrial applications, such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and utilities. Although IoT and IIoT share common technologies (sensors, cloud platforms, connectivity, and analytics), the similarities end there.

While IoT is mostly about human interaction with the objects (the Things), IIoT is used to monitor and control production processes while capturing detailed data for quality management and documentation. IIoT technology enables closer monitoring of more parameters and more sophisticated control of manufacturing processes, with quality being the result.

IoTIIoT
RevolutionEvolution
Things Data
Important – but not critical Structured connectivity
User serviced User + OEM + Vendor serviced
New
Devices
Standards
Existing
Devices
Standards
Property solutions Defined standards

Field service management. What is it and why is it used in all industries?

Field service management is a process of managing company’s resources used for all types of remote activities. This includes managing of all the resources, not just the field workers, such as the vehicles, scheduling and dispatching work, ensuring field engineer safety, and integrating the management of such activities with other company’s IT systems such as CRM, billing, service-desk, inventory, accounting etc. Field service management most commonly refers to companies who need to manage installation, service or repairs of systems or equipment.

Field service management solutions can be implemented in any branch of industry where there is a need for field activities to be performed by a field engineer. With the evolution of smartphones and mobile applications, field engineers can access all the information about the customer and the work order task (device manuals, training videos, and accumulated knowledge) required to quickly and safely complete it.

Scheduling and dispatching work is one of the most important features that a field service management solution needs to implement. With information like customer location, travel time, work order history, customer and field engineer availability, field engineer knowledge and skills, inventory and more, a field service management solution must determine the best possible appointment in a real time . That is something that can take minutes if not hours if done manually. By introducing machine learning and artificial intelligence, field service management solutions can process and assess any number of variables and create an optimized work order schedule.

The era of the Industrial Internet Of Things

IIoT devices monitor, sense and collect data from a large array of devices and machines on the factory floor. Collected data is stored and can be analyzed to detect potential breakdowns or problems in production. Imagine sensors (pressure, temperature, vibration, flow, and many more), that are already collecting data, but now that data can be combined with data from other systems and collected, analyzed, and exchanged in new ways. Use cases range from basic system monitoring and control through to developing insights and analytics that change the way systems and businesses function.

Based on collected and analyzed data, actions can be initiated. Some actions can be automatic, and some can be manual. Manual actions involve human involvement and can be managed using a field service management solution. A work order is created and assigned to a field technician that can finish the required tasks in a defined timeframe and minimize the potential fallout on the production process.

Case example – reactive maintenance

An IIoT device monitoring machine temperature has sent a temperature reading that is above a defined threshold. This indicates that the machine is not working properly and needs to be inspected for faults. The IIoT platform creates a work order in a field service management solution and the service engineer that has knowledge about the machine and minimal travel time is assigned to it. The service engineer arrives at the factory site, accesses the machine manuals and repair history using the mobile application and repairs the machine in the agreed amount of time.

Case example – proactive maintenance

An IIoT platform stores large amount of data coming from sensors installed on and around factory machines (pressure, temperature, vibration, flow, etc.). A business intelligence platform uses this data to run analytics tasks. Using machine learning algorithms, the BI platform has detected a possible fault on a machine on the factory floor. Based on this detection, an incident ticket in an IT service management (ITSM) solution is created. An ITSM solution creates a work order in the field service management solution and the service engineer that has knowledge about the machine and minimal travel time is assigned to it. The service engineer arrives at the factory site, accesses the data provided by the ITSM solution and BI platform using the mobile application and starts examining the machine. Using the mobile application, the service engineer accesses the machine’s user manual and detects the faulty part. After exchanging the faulty part, the service engineer closes the work order and notifies the ITSM solution to close the incident ticket.

Inceptum FSM: Five key features of field service management

Inceptum’s FSM solution includes all the resources required for implementing a solid and reliable field service management solution in any company. Special focus is put on the end user experience so that the users can use the field service management solution with ease and focus on important tasks in the field. 

Inceptum’s FSM solution offers several key features that can help customers:

  • Manual, semi-automatic and automatic scheduling of received work orders
  • Real time monitoring of work orders assigned employees
  • Work order prioritization and jeopardy monitoring
  • Resource consumption management
  • Focus is set on important field tasks without need for complex processes and applications