Last updated: Field service management for manufacturing: 5 essentials

Field service management for manufacturing: 5 essentials


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Field service management for manufacturing organizations is a booming business, and it’s no wonder why. Thanks to the rise of the experience economy, all customers – no matter what kind of customers they are – expect outstanding service and quick responses.

Manufacturers in South East Asia are no exception, and also happen to be major drivers of growth for the region – it’s a global manufacturing hub that’s estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6% between 2016 to 2020. It’s an especially significant sector right now for the region with China’s rising wages, tighter regulations, and trade wars leading some companies to consider moving their manufacturing to South East Asia.

Automation + people = the best service possible

To leverage opportunities, companies should focus on improvements to production output and internal operations. A critical aspect of this is minimizing machine downtime, including machine setup/changeover time, and scheduled and unscheduled downtime. This applies to machines on a company’s own production line, as well as to its equipment running its customers’ production lines.

To help minimize machine downtime, manufacturing organizations are now looking to Industry 4.0 technologies that provide advancements such as intelligent predictive maintenance and IoT to detect anomalies in machines and send out real-time alert notifications. According to a McKinsey report, manufacturing organizations in South East Asia stand to reduce equipment downtime by half before 2025 via the implementation of such technologies.

Even with the help of these advancements in automation, to service and restore a machine in the field, the last link in the chain is the field force. This is where field service management for manufacturing organizations need solutions to ensure teams in the field run quickly and efficiently to help keep machine downtime to a minimum.

Field service management for manufacturing: 5 essentials

So, when it comes to field service management for manufacturing organizations, what are the necessary components?

1. Automation: A good field service management (FSM) solution uses the predictive maintenance or IoT triggers to generate work activities and, in real time, find the best-suited field technician to be on site to perform the work activity. This is done via built-in intelligent scheduling, dispatching, and optimized algorithms.

2. Top-tier information: In addition, an FSM solution should provide the field service technician with all the information and guidance necessary to execute the task in the most efficient fashion. It should help the technician manage spare parts and consumables inventories. And it should support the management of in-house machine assets if used by manufacturing organizations, or customer machine assets if used by machine or equipment suppliers.

3. Real-time access: Integration of the FSM solution to an organization’s back-end ERP is important since it will allow straight-through processing of spare part inventory information, work time and costs, and also allow faster invoice generation. This provides more tight, cohesive field operations.

4. Crowd service with offline capabilities: A new disruptive concept in field service leverages the crowd-service model used by ride hailing services such as Uber and Grab, whereby the FSM solution provides the ability to on-board, certify, and manage third party technicians and freelancers on demand. This helps increase the service coverage area whilst not having to manage the overhead of these technicians as in-house employees. And it’s especially needed in countries like Indonesia and Philippines whose geographic profile is made up of thousands of islands, where it will not be cost effective to have in-house field technicians stationed everywhere.

The geography of the region is also the reason an ideal FSM solution should be available on mobile devices and have offline capabilities – vital since remote areas in most South East Asia countries have little or no mobile network coverage.

5. Data analysis: Finally, an ideal FSM solution not only optimizes the end-to-end field service process, but is able to automatically capture the relevant data to calculate costs and efficiency of the field technicians for continuous improvements.

Real-life examples of FSM solutions driving profits for manufacturers

Markem-Imaje is a global manufacturer of marking and printing equipment, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with presence around the world, and is one example of a large manufacturer benefiting from a modern FSM solution.

The company’s field service technicians use a FSM solution that has real-time integration to Markem-Imaje’s ERP system to manage the service and repair of their equipment at customer sites in a more efficient and productive manner. As a result, the duration of on-site service appointments reduced by 20 percent, and customers’ equipment downtime reduced, which has translated into more productivity in their production lines.

Another example is Muller Martini, a Swiss manufacturer of paper inserting systems, mail room delivery systems, and other printing-related equipment, with presence in Europe, the United States, and Asia.

Muller Martini also uses a field service management system integrated with its ERP system to manage issues within its own production lines. The solution has provided 60% faster distribution and service processes, as well as a 54% increase in efficiency.

Not all FSM solutions are the same

Companies considering an FSM solution should look for a mature and comprehensive solution primed to handle the particular field service operations challenges in the region where they are located since they provide the critical link for manufacturing organizations to ensure the machines in the production line have minimum down time.

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