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Why is automation key for asset management and field service maintenance?

October 12, 2017
Loc8 Insights Why is automation key for asset management and field service maintenance?

The rise of automation in the service industry has been a game changer. Industrial automation in the 70s saw a considerable increase in not just the efficiency of manufacturing and maintenance processes but also a marked improvement in reliability. The concept of automation has also begun to seep into fields like asset management, and this has made life much easier for small-to-medium size businesses, many of which have started using asset management services to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.

In other words, if your company is still using spreadsheets and paper-based workflows to manage in-field assets, you are way behind the curve. Organizations are now relying on field service management tools to resolve their day-to-day logistics and maintenance. Tasks such as time-tracking and inventory management now require much less time and effort, freeing resources up to spend more time on actual productive tasks. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which field service management services have helped automate the whole process of asset management and maintenance.

Pre-programmed Workflows

Creating a customized or pre-programmed workflow is one of the biggest advantages of using field service management software. Technicians no longer have to memorize complex troubleshooting steps or lug around 100-page-long instruction manuals when making a service call. Field service management apps let you create customized workflows that provide detailed instructions, which can be supplemented with helpful content like how-to videos or interactive schematics. Further, some field management service providers implement a central management system which allows technicians to update processes on the fly with more efficient steps. This way, the next time a different technician faces the same problem, they can solve the problem quicker.

Planned Maintenance

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This old Benjamin Franklin saying holds true even today. Using the right field service management tools can help transform your reactionary workforce to one that plans maintenance schedules for customer assets. For example, you can set up preventative maintenance schedules on the basis of attributes like technical specifications, warranty, and expected lifecycle. Certain assets may require additional automation rules that involve remote monitoring of sensitive parameters like pressure, voltage, flow, and heat. However, once your workforce gets into the flow of planned maintenance, expect to see fewer reports of asset failures and overall improved efficiency.

Data Entry

One of the biggest complaints most field technicians will have is the wearying task of logging data. By using the right field service management tools, technicians can do away with the whole ‘take notes on a clipboard on site and re-enter the data back in office’ tedium. Instead, they can make easy (and sometimes automated) entries on a mobile app, which is then synced with the centralised system. Not only does this save time but it also eliminates the possibility of manual data entry errors.

Dynamic Scheduling

While it is definitely a good idea to have a planned maintenance schedule, rescheduling a job is often unavoidable and sometimes even necessary (for example, if the right technician is busy on another job or if the required parts are out of stock). Many field service apps allow for dynamic scheduling tools, which can automatically reassign jobs to a different time slot or to an available technician, depending on factors like job priority, technician availability, skillset, and proximity. These apps can also be used to tackle rectification tasks, i.e. tasks that crop up when a technician is in the middle of completing another task. Technicians can make a call to create a rectification task and perform repairs immediately, or they can generate a quote for the customer and wait for confirmation before proceeding.

Ultimately, the objective is to have prompt and efficient field asset management to maximise customer satisfaction. As long as technology and software continue to improve process efficiency while keeping resources free for productive tasks, you can bet that asset management and field service maintenance companies will continue to implement better automated processes going forward.

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