Greg Burcham, Head of Service Effectiveness, MilliporeSigma
One of the biggest buzz phrases that has infiltrated the Field Service Industry in recent history is the Internet of Things (IOT). The concept of continual connectivity has driven manufacturers to implement these connected sensors in their designs in order to take advantage of the seemingly endless growth of bandwidth in the World Wide Web. Though the concept of IOT is sound and has proven to be highly beneficial to both the consumers and providers of Field Service, there are some hurdles when beginning the process of implementing the new processes once these connected devices are installed on instruments in the field.
One of the biggest hurdles is the inability to use a customer’s internal network to provide connection to the internet. The health care industry customers, with concerns related to HIPAA, are very reticent to allow an outside company to connect to their network for the purpose of taking advantage of the implementation of these sensors. The providers of these sensors, however, are overcoming this hurdle through the use of cellular connectivity built into the sensors.
The greatest benefit of the IOT innovations are lending to another growing trend in the Field Service industry, and that is a growing library of data related to the instruments and those who service them
This is a great solution in most of the United States, although many Field Service Engineers will attest that there are still many locations that lack adequate cellular coverage. Also, many that have good coverage will still suffer due to the installation locations being inside buildings that shield the cellular signals from reaching the devices. Regardless of these issues, most customers in the realm of the Field Service industry will be accessible remotely, and there is promise in upcoming technologies that will allow even the most remote locations to take advantage of the IOT.
The greatest benefit of the IOT innovations are lending to another growing trend in the Field Service industry, and that is a growing library of data related to the instruments and those who service them. Data Science is one of the fastest growing aspects in the realm of Information Technology. It has been predicted that the demand for Data Scientists will grow by 28 percent by 2020. Many companies are already recognizing the benefit of this higher level of data analytics and creating department heads whose sole job is to identify the opportunities — and to provide this service
Beyond data collection and analysis, Data Science brings a whole new perspective to the operation of a business in general. Using massive data collection and applying business rules to organize it, the ability to then apply statistical analysis and create a truly predictive process to manage that business. The selling points of this process become immediately obvious. Customer’s down time is appreciably reduced; break-fix becomes fix before break. The impact of preventive maintenance can be quantified for the customers which is a definite added value to them.
It is foreseeable that continued technological innovations will likely spawn others and methods of capitalizing on these technologizing will be realized by the consumers of them. In this case the consumers are the businesses that operate in the realm of the Field Service Industry.