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Creating Competitive Edge through Streamlined Maintenance in Connected Field Service

By Shrey Fadia
August 17, 2020

Since its emergence onto the market, Connected Field Service (CFS) solutions continue to evolve. While there are several terms for digitally enabled field service: FSM, Connected Field Service (CSM), Integrated Field Service (ISM), they all have in common the idea that with sensors in the field, any device can be remotely monitored, managed and maintained.

This week, five industry experts are coming together to share their views on the opportunities to improve field service with IoT, automation and AI: Aaron Allsbrook, CTO, ClearBlade; Jason Shepherd, VP, Ecosystem at ZEDEDA; Mike Berryman, Director, Technical Services and Solutions at Advantech; Mikael Samuelsson, Director of Strategic Alliances & Partners at Crosser Technologies; and Jags Kandasamy, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Latent AI.

All will be virtually presenting at the free ZEDEDA Transform industry event, August 19, 12:00PM to 6:00PM EDT, where industry analysts, entrepreneurs and experts will be covering trends in the world of Edge, IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT).

We caught up with Aaron Allsbrook, CTO of ClearBlade, the edge computing software enabling enterprises to rapidly engineer and run secure, real-time, scalable industrial IoT applications, who will share his company’s experience in the management, monitoring and maintenance of industrial systems, connected rail, public venue instrumentation and more.

“We are experiencing a huge surge of demand for remote field service applications, fed by sensors at the edge, which can improve performance of the machines locally, but also pump data into enterprise systems hosted on the cloud,” Allsbrook said. “One of the fastest ROIs in the IIoT industry comes from connected Field Service Management solutions, which have been proven to dramatically improve productivity with a single tech able to manage what used to take many more techs to manage, and to be able to fix problems immediately using remote software solutions, or make it possible for a live tech to fix problems within minutes given the support provided by centrally available experts and of course information at their fingertips when they arrive at a job site.”

Allsbrook sees the taxonomy of FSM in three buckets:

Process Automation

  • Open Tickets
  • Make change requests
  • Order parts
  • Reserve items
  • Schedule work

Systems of Record

  • Asset Management
  • Inventory Management
  • Process Management
  • Billing and Purchasing
  • Customer Relations
  • Resource Planning
  • Point of Sale

Analytics

  • Big Data
  • Business Intelligence
  • Reporting
  • AI Models

“This is all about improving operational efficiency across the lifecycle,” Allsbrook said. “While getting the physical connectivity right – the right sensors, actuators, local mesh networks, gateways, secure communications networks, cloud and applications – is important, the real art is to build new ways to manage the most basic needs faster and more elegantly. Break-Fix will always be with us, and in fact, as we bridge the physical and digital worlds, just like automotive technicians needed to become technology certified to work on smart cars, we will need field service technicians to also leverage technology to keep our massively digital landscape running.”

According to analyst firm Gartner, this year it is anticipated that there will be 26 times more connections between machines than between humans themselves. Thus, FSMs will have exponentially more data each year to manage and do so securely.

Allsbrook says ecosystems are becoming more important than ever, as AI and XR (various forms of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality) will drive increasing value through more automation once FSM platforms and solutions are up and running.

“More and more field services companies already rely on augmented reality to facilitate the work of their technicians, both when they are repairing and when they are training,” Allsbrook noted. “We’re seeing integration into wearables, glasses, and of course the usual tablet and smart phone apps.”

IBM claims that 35% of manufacturers on a global level will implement intelligent vision platforms to improve operational efficiency and productivity, and these platforms rely on edge sensors, cameras and more to work.

“In 2021, look for greater use of drones and robots in services, and some ‘co-botting’ where machines and humans work together to solve problems. The use of drones to carry out the monitoring of machinery which is otherwise difficult to access will increase. These drones are just another data generator at the edge of the IIoT.”

Allsbrook said we are just at the beginning of this movement to deliver intelligent, connected field service by moving from a costly break–fix model to proactive, predictive maintenance.

“The list of use cases and benefits is long,” he summarized. “Companies can almost instantly improve decision-making and preventative maintenance with insights gleaned from use and repair data, so not only are they fixing what is broken, they are illuminating product weaknesses, usage issues, or knowledge gaps. This product and device data can be used to precisely predict problems and breakdowns, enabling product companies and their managed services partners to rapidly diagnose issues from a central point, and access repair guides or provide remote assistance. This is one of the easiest business cases in the world to pitch to management – decision makers intuitively understand this value and see how the numbers stack up.”

ZEDEDA’s free, half-day inaugural event is scheduled for 12pm to 6pm Eastern Time on August 19 and is open to the public. Additional featured speakers include leading analysts and influencers including Stephanie Atkinson (Compass Intelligence), Harry Forbes (ARC Advisory), Stacey Higginbotham (Stacey on IoT), Evan Kirstel (eVira), Leonard Lee (neXt Curve), Dave McCarthy (IDC), Daniel Newman (Futurum), Dilip Sarangan (Frost and Sullivan), and more. To join the event and get more information on the schedule and speakers, go to https://hopin.to/events/zededa-transform.




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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