IoT and Smart Field Service Management: the future of full service offerings

By innovatively combining IoT, ITS and FSM, mfr® and Software AG introduce a Smart Field Service concept. This concept revolutionizes service processes, enabling profitable business models and Asset-as-a-Service.

Identifying a problem does not equate to solving it, and this is true even in plant monitoring. The Smart Field Service concept from Software AG and mfr® demonstrates how seamlessly processes can run between fault detection and troubleshooting when IoT and FSM are intelligently combined.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized device and system monitoring by enabling early detection and prevention of potential failures through data collection, analysis and even remote troubleshooting. However, to maximize the benefits of Industrial IoT (IIoT), it's important to determine how best to utilize the collected data and identify the processes it should be integrated with.

This is because even system monitoring using IoT assets quickly reaches its limits when used in isolation. Additional software tools are required to turn an error message into a problem analysis and the problem analysis into an appropriate solution.

The Smart Field Service concept by Software AG and mfr demonstrates how to combine IoT-supported asset and field service management.

 

From the Initial Alarm to the Completion of Field Service Operations

Rethink IoT consistently - this means using the data that IoT assets provide us with effectively and cleverly to create the greatest possible added value for customers and end consumers.

Increasingly, device manufacturers are adopting business models that extend beyond the sale or installation of their products. They often offer plant monitoring, maintenance, and repair services as additional features to provide a comprehensive package to the end consumer. To deliver top-tier performance, it's crucial to swiftly identify, verify, relay, and rectify, if necessary, any errors or deviations on site. Ideally, this should be done in a seamless process, without manual steps in between.

However, it is often the case that even where IoT assets are in use, a lot of time is lost between problem detection and remediation. This is partly due to the fact that manufacturers often have to manually transfer data from one system to another, which involves a lot of effort. In addition, the technicians who are at the end of the problem cycle in front of the plant rarely have access to the IoT platforms where important information about the plant is stored.

The Smart Field Service concept by Software AG and mfr links the IoT platform Cumulocity with an Issue Tracking System and the Field Service Management software from mfr. This ensures smooth asset management, monitoring all stages - from the initial alert to the final field service action.

 

The life cycle of assets and devices seamlessly connected with IoT, ITS and Smart Field Service Management.

 

How Smart Field Service works with Software AG and mfr

Imagine a wind turbine with installed IoT sensors. These continuously provide real-time data about the state of the plant: wind speed, temperature, and vibrations are measured, and forwarded to the cloud-based IoT platform Cumulocity, where a digital twin is created based on this data.

All recorded values can now be viewed and checked in real-time via a dashboard on the Cumulocity platform. From the collected and stored data, a pattern is formed, which indicates the optimal operating condition.

IIoT and Issue Tracking System

Now, if there is a deviation (for example, excessive vibration), the affected IoT devices trigger an alarm, which is synchronously displayed on Cumulocity. The problem is thus recognized, the in-house technicians informed. But since a recognized problem is far from being managed, and certainly not solved, an issue tracking system (ITS) comes into play.

The reason: Even though IoT sensors automatically report deviant values and potential errors, they usually do not provide any further information about the quality of the problems. Without an ITS, the in-house technicians would have to manually check how serious the incident actually is. This means: logging into different systems, tediously transferring data or even carrying out an on-site inspection of the plant.

The ITS responds immediately to the alarm and creates a so-called ticket ("Issue"). Here, all important information about the problem is stored: type of problem, time of detection, location of the plant, urgency, and any recommendations for immediate measures.

Since the cause of the problem lies in the IoT platform Cumulocity, master data such as serial number, software and hardware version as well as current and historical movement data (alarms, status events and measurements) flow into the ticket. This is then automatically assigned to a technician.

IIoT and Field Service Management

The seamless integration of issue tracking and IoT allows for early detection and management of deviations. Many problems can already be resolved remotely by technicians. However, what happens when on-site deployments are required?

Let’s go back to the wind turbine: The IoT sensors, which monitor vibration and temperature in the main bearing, register unusually high values. This suggests wear or failure. As a result, an alarm is triggered and the issue tracking system creates a ticket. In-house technicians analyze the problem and conclude that an on-site operation is necessary.

At this point, manufacturers dispatch their own field service technicians to the impacted plants or reach out to subcontractors. However, service technicians and subcontractors usually have no or limited access to the IoT platform. This leaves the on-site technicians without crucial plant data, which must be retrieved later. Consequently, this leads to time loss, inaccuracies, and inefficiency.

Linking an IoT platform to a Field Service Management software allows access to all essential asset data anytime, anywhere. The order issued to the service technician includes all crucial information such as the device's serial number, geographical location, error cause, and current measurement data. The technician, constantly in touch with the internal service via a mobile app, can quickly clarify any queries about historical data. The outcome: swift, precise, and effective work.

All actions taken by the technician, such as replacement of spare parts and changes in device configuration, are documented and stored in real time in Cumulocity. This information will also be valuable for in-house technicians in the future.

 

 

Problem Solving with Smart Field Service Management

  • Equipment faults that occur are detected by Cumolicity and forwarded to the in-house technicians
  • These analyze the fault and decide whether a deployment is necessary. If so, a work order is created with all necessary real-time data.
  • The work order appears in the mfr system and is automatically sent to the customer and a field service technician. mfr ensures that all necessary parts are available and that pending maintenance work is taken into account.
  • The customer can track the technician's route in real time and is informed at all times about the status of the fault rectification during the deployment.
  • The technician rectifies the problem on site based on the real-time data stored in Cumolicity.
  • The technician is in constant contact with the internal service during his deployment. This way, even questions about historical device data can be answered immediately.
  • Once the work is completed, the technician creates a detailed document in which the interventions carried out, parts replaced, etc. are recorded. These data - as well as the measurements made by the technician on site - are stored in Cumolicity.

 

The Benefits of Smart Field Service

The integration of IoT and FSM facilitates plant monitoring, allowing all processes to be tracked. This presents new opportunities for plant and equipment manufacturers. Having a comprehensive view allows them to not only expand their insights but also their offerings. For instance, an Asset-as-a-Service (AaaS) model becomes a viable option.

Smart Field Service actively engages customers in plant monitoring. It maintains transparency from the initial error report to the tracking of assigned technicians' routes. This provides both manufacturers and end consumers with primarily one thing: security.

This lays the groundwork for a robust customer relationship, fostering an enhanced customer experience and long-term collaboration. Besides the benefit of reduced reaction times (IoT) and intelligent field service (mfr) - translating to decreased costs and improved quality for manufacturers - the Smart Field Service concept also offers sustained competitiveness.

Because modern companies know: The trend is towards service. Innovative business models are increasingly focusing on service offerings in their concepts. Software AG and mfr provide an unparalleled all-round solution in the asset management field with their Smart Field Service, which allows companies to position themselves securely in the market and have long-term stability.

 

Conclusion

Intelligent plant monitoring starts by taking IoT a step further. With the Smart Field Service concept from Software AG and mfr, an all-round solution in the field of asset management is available that combines rapid response with clean administration and precise work assignments.

Manufacturers using Smart Field Service can continuously monitor their plant status and track any arising issues from the initial alarm to the documented work assignment. Manual intermediaries are entirely eliminated, maximizing the potential of IoT assets.

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