The Uptime Blog
Tags: electronic parts catalogue, parts catalog, field service, mobile, InService EPC, dvautier, fleet maintenance, electronic parts catalogs, epc software, complex equipment, mobile parts catalog
When it comes to complex equipment maintenance and repair, mobility is a key factor to success. According to an infographic “Delight Customers and Increase Profitability,” by SAP, an Enigma partner, mobility improves first-time fix rates, increases productivity, produces gains in profitability and is a key strategy for improving performance.
Customers Want More, Now
Customers are increasingly demanding more from their equipment service providers – OEMs operating in-house service and field service teams, dealership service departments, and independent service providers. Customers want faster, smarter, more extensive service to combat equipment downtime, and they want it NOW.
Although service providers recognize shifting customer expectations and are eager to respond, they are restricted by the technology available to them. The inability to remotely access service and parts information, and the limitations of mobile device operating systems present stumbling blocks to productive and profitable field service.
Mobile Electronic Parts Catalog Software Delivers
Just a few weeks ago Enigma announced InService EPC Version 5.5. It includes new advances in parts catalog software that help service providers tackle the challenges of field service mobility. It gives service teams the tools needed to meet customer’s demands head on.
The InService EPC Version 5.5 puts the power of a parts catalog where it’s needed most – in the hands of the service technicians. It works equally as well on a tablet as is does on a desktop or laptop. Five key features make InService EPC tablet compatibility advantageous:
- Mobility – full remote access to parts availability, pricing and service information
- Independence – browser and device independent
- Design – easy-to-use touch screen graphic user interface
- Viewing – ability to view, search with highlight and display pdf documents without additional software
- Technology – HTML5 and CSS3 compliant with Enigma 3C platform technology Improved Service Performance
Mobility – Tablet compatibility expands the mobile capabilities of service staff. It offers a fully functioning software application that gives field service techs access to all the same functions found in the desktop or laptop versions. Search for parts availability, pricing or detailed service information. View parts assemblies, add items to the shopping cart, and submit orders online.
Independence – InService EPC Version 5.5 is HTML5 and CSS3 compliant making it device- and browser-independent. Service technicians can use whatever device they want, wherever online connection is available. This cross-platform support is also useful for IT departments struggling to manage challenging BOYD issues.
Design – A sleek new interface is expressly designed for tablet use. Internet Explorer users won’t notice any changes to the user interface, but when you view version 5.5 on your team’s tablets using other browsers, you’ll experience a simple, easy-to-use design. The touch screen navigation eliminates the need for a mouse while maintaining the full application functionality. Service technicians have all the information they need – literally at their fingertips.
Document Viewing – InService EPC Version 5.5 features built-in streaming pdf viewing. No plug-in is required. There are no apps to download. View, search and get highlighted search results. Display pdf documents without additional software. Open multiple windows to compare models, share e-notes, or get detailed parts information with fly-out boxes when hot-spotted items are selected.
Technology – Version 5.5 is based on our proven 3C Platform technology, and incorporating international programming community standards. It conforms to the latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards making it a powerful and robust mobile application supporting multiple types of rich content formats.
InService EPC Version 5.5 is true mobility without compromise – the power of a desktop with the portability of a tablet. It makes increased mobility a reality for service teams looking to improve performance and is leading the transformation of the field service industry.
In October, Enigma was a guest speaker at the ATA e-Business Forum and delivered a presentation about tablets on the tarmac, which focused on helping aircraft mechanics get the information they need while out on the flight line. But the story of tablets is applicable to any industry where technicians must work in remote, restricted or challenging environments.
Tablets promise higher productivity for just about everyone involved in aftermarket service and parts: technicians, inspectors, engineers, parts managers, planners, etc. Tablets promise that maintenance tasks will be performed faster and more accurately, which will decrease mean time to repair (MTTR), increase first time fix (FTF) rates and reduce no fault found (NFF) events. The problem is that it takes more than tablets to deliver on those promises. For companies to realize these benefits, the tablet-wielding workforce must also be rewarded for their achievements, otherwise any efficiency gains might get spent on longer lunch breaks. Furthermore, industries that rely on organized labor may run into contractual issues before they get buy-in from mechanics and engineers. And so tablet promises come with some strings attached.
This raises an interesting question, “Do tablets offer any benefits that are independent of workforce cooperation?” In a word that benefit is “visibility.” Tablets offer visibility into the parts, processes, products and people involved in service and parts decisions – visibility into how people approach maintenance tasks and visibility into why some are successful and others are not. Tablets allow the collection and analysis of “big data” straight from the field (i.e. at the point of service). Such passive data collection provides insight to part selection, purchasing and service processes, and to problems with training and product quality, without being a burden on the workforce.
Despite all the hype about tablets improving maintenance and repair, the real opportunity is less about service productivity and more about sales strategy. Tablets provide the necessary link to understand aftermarket parts and service workflows. By exposing bottlenecks, inconsistencies and missed opportunities, companies can fully optimize their parts strategy and streamline service offerings. And that represents a much higher value than simple mobility.
Tags: Maintenance, Electronic parts catalogs, parts and service, service technicians, turnaround times, parts catalog, technical documentation, alternative parts, service information, asset maintenance, field service, customer support, dealer support, appliance repair, mobile
Natural selection is the process of one thing being replaced by something else that is better, stronger or faster. It happens everywhere, nature, people, and business. Something in the “natural order” changes and you either adapt or get left behind, permanently. Natural selection is underway right now around the process of servicing and supporting complex equipment—and only the “fittest” will survive.
The Service Council conducted a remote services benchmark survey regarding the future of the services industry, which identified three factors that drive the services market today:
- The service organization’s demand for more productivity
- The customer’s demand for higher quality/uptime
- The customer’s demand for faster repairs
In a perfect world, new products would require less service and have fewer failures, thus reducing the need for better field service. In the real world, where complex products often need more service, the factors listed above will define success or failure for products, brands and even companies.
The Service Council benchmark suggests that implementing so-called “smarter services” is better than simply waiting for products to reach perfection. It seems that as long as products are manufactured, sold, distributed and installed in a less than perfect state, service will continue to be the key to customer satisfaction.
In the same survey, services executives claim their industry is vibrant and responsive—fully able to meet customer demand for performance and uptime. They say this even as they are trying to implement new technology that helps field technicians complete tasks quickly. The most successful service executives have already implemented a strategy to automate business processes and increase customer satisfaction. Some of their tactics include:
- Focus on those metrics that have a high correlation to service performance (and ignore the others)
- Automate field service processes to reduce “look-up” delays and eliminate clerical tasks and errors
- Provide customers with insight to equipment performance and required maintenance
However, maintenance and repair is more than a service contract between vendors and their customers. It is a way to ensure customers maximize the value of equipment. While customers often consider service to be a cost-center—an unavoidable cost of doing business—without proper maintenance, complex equipment can never meet expectations. Companies that meet customer expectations achieve long-term stability within their installed base, along with profitable parts sales and service contracts. Missing customer expectations risks lost revenue and bad PR, often in the form of negative stories that “go viral” on social media. The problem is that field technicians often need sophisticated technical support when performing repairs at the customer site. (It’s more difficult to get guidance when working remotely.)
There is now a change occurring within the service industry. Customer expectations for complex equipment haven’t significantly changed—faster production, more uptime, higher quality and lower cost. What has changed is the time allowed to meet those expectations. Companies are demanding their equipment be repaired better and faster than ever, which is why many service organizations now track productivity and fix-first-time rates for each technician. The compression of response times and the demand for higher quality is driving natural selection in the service industry.
Service organizations that achieve equipment performance and customer satisfaction goals are financially rewarded. Those that don’t, cease to be a player in the industry.
For those companies that fear they may be on the wrong side of the natural selection process, facing increased customer expectations and lacking an effective response, it’s not too late to adapt. Enigma has the talent and technology to turn your service organization into a competitive advantage, enabling all your technicians to perform with excellence—even with the most demanding customers.
An article in the April edition of Field Technologies Magazine spoke at length about how SMB companies are looking to leverage mobility. According to the SMB Group, a market research firm, the number of SMB enterprises considering giving their workforce mobility solutions has tripled. This is a significant number but it doesn’t mean that all field engineers will be getting company hardware. Service delivery is a key factor in driving adoption of mobile technologies, especially as a means to stay competitive. Firms that pursue a mobility solution have a number of choices related to deployment and implementation.
Some of the unique implementation challenges for mobility solutions are that most companies don’t have the time or capital to roll out a pilot program. Heavy leveraging of BYOD hardware (bring your own device) is another emerging trend for companies trying to cut costs while maintaining a competitive edge. Initially this may reduce hardware expense but, it poses interesting challenges when choosing software solutions. Off the shelf software usually needs some modification to be effective on mobile platforms. On the other hand, solutions that work well on mobile devices may not be scalable to support enterprise-level integration, interactivity and expansion.
Finding reliable, compatible solutions requires partnering with organizations that have mastered aftermarket parts and service processes and successfully deployed them into multiple environments (online, offline, mobile). Companies need powerful solutions that aggregate, integrate and deliver content that is relevant and accurate.
Mobile solutions that are designed for the enterprise and deployed to the field bring the collective experience of the entire organization to every service problem. Companies need solutions that provide a structured and methodical approach to problem solving, so that service technicians are prepared to face a constantly changing set of requirements and multiple types of equipment with whatever mobile device is available.
Mobile devices have uncovered multiple opportunities to improve field service operations. However, those opportunities cannot be realized without enterprise quality software that can: 1) leverage the hardware; and 2) improve efficiency and consistency across the enterprise. Enigma has proven expertise in both these requirements so if mobility is part of your company’s strategy for product service and support, it may be worthwhile to see a demo.