When interacting with cloud systems optimized for field service, a field engineer equipped with a networked tablet along with the appropriate installed software may benefit in several ways. Examples include:
1. Retrieve cloud stored data: On-demand access to sensor collected data and other customer resources. For instance:
- Access to machine logs, configuration data, and service history can offer opportunities for the engineer to work with up-to-date and precise information.
- Retrieval of service manuals, customer information resources, and parts availability can be important factors in how efficiently the engineer closes a service case.
2. Add to cloud stored data: Engineer-assisted data collection at the worksite. Functionalities include:
- Paper replacement. Service notes entered directly into a web-based app. This process helps reduce the risk that paper notes are later lost or misplaced.
- Serviced machine update: Capture the tag or bar code on a just replaced part or machine to update account information.
- Multi-media data: Take photos or video of a repair process and share with colleagues for collaborative assistance.
- Signature capture: Acquire digital customer signature for work completion and invoicing purposes.
- Mobile billing: Enable credit card processing and other payment options.
From an IoT perspective, as customer data is entered into tablet software and uploaded to cloud services, it could then be merged and analyzed with machine and enterprise data to produce enhanced account insight.
Such insight may lead to a variety of quantifiable business value outcomes, mutually beneficial for the service provider and their customer. For instance:
- Predict machine failures before they occur.
- Prescribe a way to avoid failures.
- Decrease customer service calls.
- Offer competitive pricing.
- Enhance customer loyalty (ie, less churn).
- Maintain a happier workforce.
The success of such examples, however, is dependent on various additional factors including a field engineer’s access to appropriate tablet hardware configuration and a readiness to operate under variable worksite conditions. These follow next.