The evolution of the Internet of Things in field service

Equipment manufacturers and field service professionals need to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT), which continues to evolve and become more sophisticated in how it processes data and impacts manufacturing as a whole.

03/26/2016


The Internet of Things (IoT) has made quite a buzz the last few years, especially in the industrial realm. It was without a doubt the most talked about topic at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. And over the last couple of years, IoT has made its mark as a leading technology guiding the future of field services.

This means that, for manufacturers, the product they make is no longer the most important or highest revenue opportunity in their business. "The manufacturer can now offer a package of connected equipment and related services that optimize overall results," said a recent Harvard Business Review article, "How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Competition."

"There are many opportunities to add to existing telemetry to power continuous analytics at the individual component or system level," VentureBeat wrote in a
recent article, "IoT Mapped."

IoT sensors allow manufacturers to monitor equipment at a granular level. They can see how systems are working together, or whether an individual component on a generator is working correctly. By using this information to guide business decisions, manufacturers become more knowledgeable while making their customers more efficient.

Perhaps the biggest benefit manufacturers gain from IoT sensors is the ability to make service programs proactive rather than reactive. As the world enters an age where customers demand more from their equipment and the service they receive, manufacturers are discovering the importance of gaining loyal customers and achieving ongoing service revenue by leveraging the power of smart, connected equipment.

Information tsunami

As more field service things become smart, service firms will need a place to capture, organize, and make actionable the key data their machines produce. Anybody can gather data—sensors are cheap—it's about what is done with the data.

With solutions that make sense of incoming machine intelligence and spit out actionable feedback, manufacturers can produce better products and provide more informed, proactive service to customers.

In their guide "The Rise of Systems Intelligence," Salesforce calls this influx of data the tsunami of information. "Enterprises will need to figure out how to not only capture this data, but how to search, analyze, and visualize it... The ultimate goal is the ability to perform predictive analytics and real-time intelligent decision making.... This is going to require an IT transformation from systems of record to systems of intelligence."

Salesforce outlines the progression technologies like the IoT will take in the industrial service realm.

  1. Starting with mobile apps and connected products, service organizations will streamline the service process and eliminate paper.
  2. The next stage includes the collection of data streaming from machines so service orgs can gain insight into field asset performance and other vital information.
  3. From there, solutions will get more sophisticated. IoT data will inform key performance indicators and guide businesses' ability to make real-time, intelligent decisions.
  4. Eventually, the IoT will transform industrial business models, forcing companies to create new revenue sources and use predictive intelligence to turn product support into a major revenue stream. 

IoT progresses for industrial equipment

The IoT will continue to grow in functionality and popularity among industrial equipment businesses. Some of the future trends industrial businesses will see in the coming years include:

  • Initiating tasks and communicate with other equipment.
  • Tailoring user interfaces, recommendations and movements to meet customer preferences.
  • Strengthening features—and thus the benefits they provide customers—through software improvements.
  • Learning how to lower operating costs.
  • Optimizing yield and productivity. Prevent accidents and failures during operation.
  • Taking action in uncertain or adverse conditions.

The IoT is the next frontier in product support and manufacturers need to have the right tools to meet tomorrow's service demands. 

Joanna Rotter is content marketing manager at MSI Data. MSI Data is a CFE Media content partner. See the original article here. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineeringcvavra@cfemedia.com.

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